(note: the words that are a different color are links to other pages.)
Hey everybody! This world traveler is in Germany a little more than a week. I'm at TeenStreet again. You can check out a little what TeenStreet looks like from my blog update last year. I'll do another one for this year once we get further into the week.
I arrived yesterday, on the 27th. This morning I led devotions for my group. I did my devotion on prayer, which was really renewing for me, and something that I feel led to share with you.
I'm reading a book called Too busy Not to Pray. It has really convicted me that although I shoot a quick prayer almost on a daily basis, if I had more understanding, my prayer life and therefore my life would be more fulfilled, grounded, and blessed.
The author of the book, Bill Hybels, says "Many of us have pressing personal needs and serious problems that ravage our lives, but we don't ask God for help because somewhere, well beneath our surface layer of faith and trust, we don't believe God as the power to do anything about them."
Neither this book nor I can set your hearts right, but we can give you examples and thoughts to meditate on to start cultivating it. I know I need a change of heart to change my prayer life.
We must believe that God has the power to change our circumstances. In Acts 12:5-11, Peter is in jail and because of the demand of all the Christians to release him, the jail increased their security. The night before Peter's execution, verse 5 says "So Peter was kept in prison, but earnest prayer for him was made to God by the church."
To summarize what happens next, Peter is asleep, and an angel wakes him up and leads him out of the prison. What actually surprises me more than the angel leading Peter out of jail is that Peter was asleep. When I'm nervous about anything in the least bit, the first thing to be affected is my sleep. Peter had such confidence in the Lord's plan - whether that was to live or die, he didn't know that God was going to save him - he could sleep.
Things that hold us back from prayer: guilt, we think God has more important things to attend to, and we're not in the habit of it.
Regarding habits: Seeking change and developing habits have to start with making non-negotiable decisions: "I will learn what disciplines are necessary to my prayer life, and I will practice these disciplines regularly without fail."
Regarding God and more important things: First, we must accept that God is all-knowing and all-powerful. He is equally concerned about all his children. Second, God invites us to pray. [Philippians 4:6-7 - Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.]
Regarding guilt: Sometimes when prayer is one-sided, we feel guilty and when we feel guilty, we stop prayer regularly. By one-sided, I mean we just pray help, or we only pray to confess sins. When the disciples asked Jesus how to pray, he responded with the Lord's Prayer . It covers praise to the Lord, confession of sin, giving thanks to the Lord, and finally asking requests. Jesus' response ends with "If you, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!"
Lastly, when our motives are wrong, guilt follows closely. Here are some suggestions of what you could ask yourself: Would this bring Glory to Him? Would it advance His kingdom? Would it help people? Would it help me grow spiritually?
Feel free to comment - I'd love to hear ways that help you take time out to pray or ways that you've been encouraged by prayer.