Prayer is an area that I long for myself and for us as a community to grow in. There have been few things that have been more important to my own spiritual growth and the development of a greater intimacy in my life with Jesus than the gradual deepening of my prayer life. And I so want to continue to go deeper in my life of prayer life and I so want this for you and us as a church. Living a life where we are growing in the area of prayer brings many healing and strengthening benefits to us and the continual development of our spiritual lives and our intimacy with Jesus. All of which then flows into growing in our love for others and our ministry to them.
Prayer is such an important and vital part of the spiritual life. A few weeks ago I taught on prayer, which can be accessed in our podcast. In this teaching on prayer I spoke about some words that help to define for me what prayer is. I'd like to share these words for you to spend some time meditating on and asking Jesus to deepen your intimacy with Him through prayer.
Transparent Dialogue/Intimate Conversation- Prayer is a place for us to be completely transparent before God and share what is deepest in our hearts. Prayer though is a dialogue, a conversation, with God. Meaning that there is Another who desires to communicate His heart to us and we need to make room in our prayer lives for His Word and Spirit to speak to us.
Deep to Deep- I love the verse in Psalm 42:7 where the psalmist says, "Deep calls to deep." Prayer is our deep calling out to God's deep, and the depths of God calling out to us.
Greatest Safety- Prayer should be your safest place on earth. The place where you know you are completely loved, understood, and always under God's grace. There's nothing you cannot bring to Him and receive His wisdom, love, grace, forgiveness, strength, and empowerment.
Come As You Are- Prayer is not a time when you have to put your best foot forward. God wants all of you, the good, the bad, and the ugly. He wants you to trust Him with all that is going on in your life and in your heart.
Transformation- I like this quote I came across on the transformation that prayer brings to our lives: "To pray is to change. Prayer is the central avenue God uses to transform us. If we are unwilling to change, we will abandon prayer as a noticeable characteristic of our lives. The closer we come to the heartbeat of God the more we see our need and the more we desire to be conformed to Christ."
Power- There's power in prayer, friends; power that God uses to change our lives, the lives of others, and the world itself. God invites us to partner with Him in His transformative and redeeming work in the world through the power of intercessory prayer. We see throughout Scripture and Church history the great importance of believing prayer in the pouring out of God's blessings and His Spirit upon His people.
Learning to See Things From God's Point of View- In prayer we can get out of the small box of our worries and fears and see our lives and all of life from the much larger viewpoint of God's perspective. Prayer helps us to see not just through our eyes but God's eyes.
Aligning of Our Wills with God's Will- We see in the Garden of Gethsemane, on the night of Jesus' arrest, Jesus said, “Abba, Father. All things are possible for you.
Remove this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will(Mark 14:36)." There often comes times in our lives when our will desires to go one way and God's will is leading us another way. Prayer is a time to align our will with God's will for our lives.
Learning to Listen, Not Just to Speak- Mother Teresa said something about listening prayer that has stuck with me for many years. She said, "God speaks in the silence of the heart and we listen." Growing in our prayer lives requires times of solitude and silence where we can have the space to listen to God's still small voice speaking into the depths of our heart.
Trust- Trust is the foundation of relationship. If we do not trust God's love, goodness, and care over our lives it's going to be difficult to have much of a deep prayer life. Prayer is a place we can come to deepen our trust in God.
Work- I like this quote about the "work" of prayer: "We must never wait to pray until we feel like praying before we pray. Prayer is like any other work; we may not feel like working, but once we have been at it for a bit, we begin to feel like working. We may not feel like playing the piano, but once we play for a while, we feel like doing it. In the same way, our prayer muscles need to be limbered up a bit and once the blood flow of prayer begins, we will find that we feel like praying."
Embodied- If you want to grow in your prayer life, use your body. We see throughout Scripture that prayer is embodied. Whether it is lifting up our arms, opening the palms of our hands, opening our arms to the sides of our bodies, lifting up our faces, getting on our knees, bowing with our face to the ground, prayer is something that we should do with all of our self, and that includes our body. If you want to grow in your prayer life, use your body. Let your body try to help express what your soul is communicating to God or how it might be trying to listen to Him and receive from Him. Let your body be your communication at times when words do not come. Use your body in prayer.
Waiting- One of the most difficult aspects of a life of prayer is that prayer often requires waiting on God. His timing in our lives is often not our timing. Prayer helps to expand our patience muscle and keep us close to Him as we trustingly wait on His answer in His time.
Fuel- Prayer is a place we can come to recharge and refuel our spiritual lives. Our spirits can get drained and weary. In prayer God recharges and refuels us to live in the power of His Spirit. If you're feeling drained and weary come to God in prayer.
Set aside a regular time of prayer, friends; times when you can commune with God, speaking to Him and listening to His Spirit speak to you. Try having a regular time of prayer at least 3 times a week, 15 minutes each time. I have given you some prayer helps called ACTS and The Examen that are excellent tools to help us in our prayer lives. Please consider using these. If you do not have one of these prayer help cards they will be in the bulletin. I'm looking forward to seeing how God grows us as a community in the area of prayer and in intimacy with our Lord!
Blessings to you,