Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Be With God-Prayer

I am leading a Lenten Study tonight on the topic "Be With God-Prayer." As I was working on it these verses came to mind. First, Mark 1:35, "Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed." Alone, while it was still very early, Jesus felt the need to pray. He had spent the previous evening healing. After praying He went back to work.

Second, Luke 5:16, "But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed." Jesus OFTEN withdrew and prayed. Third verse, Luke 6:12, "One of those days Jesus went out to a mountainside to pray, and spent the night praying to God." The next day Jesus chose the 12 men that would become his apostles. Before this major decision of choosing the 12, Jesus spent the night in prayer. Finally, Matthew 14:23, "After he had dismissed them, he went up on a mountainside by himself to pray. When evening came, he was there alone," Jesus had just finished teaching and feeding the 5000, and would follow up this prayer by walking on water top reach the disciples.

Pray? Some people do, but most don’t, except when they’re in the midst of a crisis. Many people who do pray just go through the motions, never really expecting God to answer. What we think about God shapes the way we experience Him in prayer, and how we experience Him in prayer transforms what and how we think about Him. The primary reason not to pray has to do with control. We want to be in control. Genuine prayer means giving up control of our destiny to God. Many people don’t pray because of the way they perceive reality. They simply deny the existence of God. For people like that, it would be absurd to pray. Another reason people don’t pray is that they think it is too hard. They think intimacy with God is reserved for spiritual giants—ordinary people can never experience God like Mother Theresa or John Wesley. The fact of the matter is that God calls out to every human being through Jesus. Prayer does not demand any particular talent, or special skill. Effective prayer simply demands a desire to know God, the desire to move beyond ourselves into the richness of God’s kingdom. Prayer is a discipline, but it is a discipline that everyone can learn!

Prayer is not a monologue to God; it is a conversation with God. One of the two biggest faults in many people’s prayer life is the failure to give time for God to respond to our prayers. Our prayer time needs to have silence in order for us to listen for God. During this silence we are actively listening for God. The response probably won’t come in an audible voice, but in images or simply in nothing! Sometimes, the silence prepares our hearts for God to answer us IN HIS TIME. It may be later that day, in our dreams at night, or though an individual or situation you deal with following your prayer. (By the way, the second biggest fault in many people's prayer life is the failure to thank God for answered prayers!)

This Lenten season, Be With God, take time to PRAY!

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