Monday, October 26, 2009

Prayer Takes You There

In our final look at prayer I wonder where prayer takes you? What image or experience do you have when you pray?
For me, prayer most often leads me to two places. While I am praying with some frustration or worry, God leads me to a place of peace. If my heart is troubled, whether I recognize it or not, prayer brings a sense of peace to my soul. After some time in prayer I feel God the Father wrap me in His arms and hold me close. God reminds me that in the midst of trouble His hand is strong. When I finish praying I have an assurance that God is still in control.
The second place God takes me in prayer is to a place of joy. This is where God takes me as he reminds me of all the blessings I have in this life. He brings to my mind the joy my wife and kids bring to me. He helps me remember how blessed I am to have my occupation match my calling to serve God and His children. When I finish a prayer time like that a smile is on my face and I am ready to receive all that life has to offer.
So where does prayer take you? It may not take you to the same place every time and it will not be the same places I go in prayer, but I want to hear from you. Share your prayer experiences with us.

Monday, October 19, 2009

When to pray?

Yesterday we looked at the prayer life of Daniel, the famous survivor of the lions' den. Daniel had a routine of praying three times a day. So I encourage you to follow his example and set at least 5 minutes aside three times each day to pray to God.
I think it is important to have a routine daily prayer life, but there are also other times to pray. I think we have discussed this on my blog before that praying when a concern is brought forward is powerful. A common phrase said by many well meaning Christians is, "I will be praying for you." That is a nice offer to someone in need, but how often do we actually follow through with that offer? Too often we probably forget when we do get around to pray or worse yet, we just offered those words as comfort with no real intent behind them.
Instead let's be a people who pray, not people who offer to pray. I know some of my blog followers have shared powerful stories of not waiting to pray, but offering a prayer right then and there. It does take some courage depending on how public of a place you are in, but even in those places there is power in prayer.
A few weeks ago at our Wednesday night activities I was talking with a woman who started to share how tough a week she had. Other people gathered around as she shared and tears filled her eyes. After she shared a while and we asked if there was anything we could do, we made a circle with our arms around each other and prayed for her. There were five of us in the circle.
Helen said that she walked into the sanctuary while we were praying. She said it was a great sight to see. Other people were walking around as classes were ending and choir was about to begin. No one was acting like anything strange was going on as a group was circled in prayer and yet there was a sacred moment of prayer happening in the midst of the busyness in that room.
We will be blessed by daily praying to God three times a day, but we will also be blessed when we take the time to pray whenever a joy or concern is brought to our attention.

Monday, October 12, 2009

How You Pray?

What have you found to be helpful in prayer?
I said yesterday that I do not think there is a "right" way to pray. You do not need to say the right words or be in the right position to pray. Although words and position can be important, they will not be the same for everyone. Prayer is an art form. What may work for me may not work for you.
Never the less, I will share what works for me. 90% of the time I pray I do so with my head bowed. I have always felt that is a way to show reverence for God. There are a few times I will turn my head up towards the heavens in prayer, but not too often.
I also prefer to kneel when possible. I will kneel at the altar or beside my bed. Again it is a sign of reverence to God and a reminder to myself that I am a servant of the Lord Jesus.
As for the words I use in prayer, they are often just regular talk for me. I do not regularly use fancy words, but just my every day conversation words. I will pray for scripture passages when they speak to a given situation. Like thanking God that the Scriptures say, "when two or more are gathered, God is there." This reminds me of His promised presence.
Another way I pray is in short one sentence prayers. If some blessing happens or a revelation of some kind comes to my mind I will just say, "Thank you Jesus." Or in the midst of a struggle I will just pray, "What are you doing to me?" because I know God is present in my struggle.
So, again, maybe this can help you in your prayer life, and maybe not. Please share what is meaningful to you when you pray. What is special to you in your prayer life?

Monday, October 5, 2009

Why Pray?

My hope during the month of October is that this blog might be a place for others to share some thoughts about prayer. Prayer is very personal and therefore each of our prayer lives will be unique. What is valuable in my prayer life, may not work for you. At the same time, something in your prayer life might really improve my prayer life. So I would love it if each person who read this would give some input from their experience.
First topic is why you pray? What leads you to pray?
For me, as I said yesterday, my prayer life has been up and down. There have been times prayer has been important and other times it was something I purposefully did not do. I felt I was wasting my time and maybe God's time with my prayers. God already knew everything I was telling Him and He would do what He wanted anyway. Looking back, maybe I just told myself that so I would not feel guilty for not praying.
Now I am drawn into prayer by two things. First, is my desire to build my relationship with God. I want to get closer to God. I want to learn to understand and love God as best I can and one way to build that love relationship with God is through prayer. Second, I am draw to prayer because of my need for God's wisdom and strength. I realize more each day how my strength and wisdom is not enough for all of God's work. Only by connecting to God will I be able to follow the call He has in my life. Without prayer I know I will not be able to do what God has called me to do.
So, why do you pray? What makes prayer important to you?