Saturday – Called Aside
Saturday – Called Aside
As we begin looking at our magnificent, transcendent God, I am reflecting on how He has patiently drawn me toward Himself. Here is the third of four major turning points.
In my mid-forties, God challenged me to begin spending more time with Him in prayer. He specifically asked me to begin using the Lord’s Prayer as the pattern for my praying. I had heard speakers suggest that before, and it had struck me as artificial. So when God asked me to do it, it took me by surprise. But I began to obey.
Then a few years later, in 1998, I reduced my work load to half-time in order to have more time to write. That schedule change took away my long-established means of daily exercise, so I found myself looking for another exercise routine. In early 1999, at age 49, I began taking long daily walks – an hour or more every weekday. Those walks soon became my prayer time.
Those extended prayer times have done more to enrich my life and my relationship with the Living God than anything else. The first half of the Lord’s Prayer, applied to my daily situation and prayed from the heart, has been deeply formative in the way I think of God and relate to Him.
Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name,
your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven. (Matthew 6:9-10, NIV)
In the early years of those walks, I usually walked outside, alone, in nature. Spending all that time speaking with God the way Jesus taught us to pray, while immersed in His creation, continued God’s process of drawing me into Himself.
A reflection on Revelation 8:3-12,
the first four trumpets
Sovereign God is moved by the prayers of His people.
He seeks our prayers.
He welcomes our prayers.
He listens to our prayers.
He is pleased with our prayers.
He answers our prayers.
The God of fire acts mightily in response to our prayers.
The Holy God brings justice because we pray.
The God of the Exodus delivers oppressed people because we pray.
Our humble, stumbling prayers rise as fragrant incense
in the throne room of the universe,
in the presence of the Lord of all reality.
Our prayers matter because they align us
with His purposes,
with all He has and all He is.
Our prayers matter because the Sovereign God
says that they matter.
Father, may our prayers rise to You
as constantly as breath,
from hearts of love, warmed by Your love,
in simple, childlike faith.
I have loved you with an everlasting love;
I have drawn you with loving-kindness. (Jeremiah 31:3, NIV)
Practicing the presence of God is for everyone.
It is both necessary and easy.
Talking with God is
the most holy,
the most universal, and
the most necessary practice in the spiritual life.
We can speak humbly and lovingly to Him
at all times,
wherever we are.
There are no rules or procedures to follow.
Just talk to Him honestly and
believe that He hears you.
Though church is important,
you don’t have to be in church to talk to Him.
Make your heart a chapel where
you may escape from time to time
to talk with Him.
Everyone can live in
with the Living God.
by Brother Lawrence and Ken Bible
Father, You act in Your all-wise, all-loving time,
not on my anxious, self-centered schedule.
Help me to wait for You patiently,
as the farmer waits for rain (James 5:7-8).
Father, we consider the great saints to be greatly blessed of You.
They patiently endured suffering.
They remained faithful,
no matter how dark the days seemed.
Like them, help us to stay strong in faith (James 5:10-11).
Father, as Your people,
help us to meet every situation with prayer:
suffering, with patient petition, relying on You;
joy, with thanksgiving and song;
sickness, with anointing and intercession;
sin, with confession to one another and forgiveness (James 5:13-18).
from the devotional book, PICTURES OF GOD
Read John 14:12-14; 15:7-8; 16:23-28
Part of a fruitful relationship with God is prayer. As Jesus taught His disciples for the final time before His crucifixion, three times He talked about prayer. Three times He made the lavish promise, “Ask, and you will receive.”
What did He mean by this? Is this a blank check to indulge all our desires?
Whenever we want to understand what a person is saying, we have to take it in context, in the flow of what he or she is communicating. Taking isolated sentences out of context is a recipe for disaster, whether in daily conversation or in interpreting the Bible.
Read today’s scriptures, and notice the contexts for Jesus’ promises about prayer. The context is always Christian service. He is talking about asking for ministry purposes, not for personal reasons. The focus is on bearing fruit for the Father. There will be times in God’s work when we will either ask the Father plainly for what is needed, or the job won’t get done. So ask!
Ask for the Father’s benefit, not your own. Ask in Jesus’ name, for His purposes, for the Father’s glory. Prayer is not drawing the all-wise, all-loving Father down to your petty, personal viewpoint. Prayer is drawing us upward into His perspective and His concerns. Sovereign God is not going to dance to your tune. He wants to teach you to dance to His. Note what James says:
You do not have because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, so that you may spend it on your pleasures. (James 4:2b-3, NASB)
Pray as a branch in the Vine. Pray out of the life you share with Jesus Christ. Pray as standing in the loving Father’s presence, as a brother or sister of Jesus Christ, as His friend and servant.
Pray as Jesus would pray, and the Father will answer you as He would answer Jesus.
Do everything in love (1 Corinthians 16:14, NIV).
When your mind wanders, where does it go? What do you think about in your spare moments – when driving, eating, waiting, or doing undemanding tasks? What are your daydreams?
During one particular vacation, I was in the same room with a number of family members, all near and dear to me. Yet I caught myself being so self-absorbed that my heart and mind were not awake to them and their concerns. If they had felt problems or pain or confusion, I would not have sensed it. I would not have reached out to them to offer a listening heart.
The Lord has graciously showed me that I waste too much of my time and thought on myself.
I want to be preoccupied with loving other people. What could I accomplish if I let the Lord’s love dream through me?
I want to be awake to the kaleidoscope of concerns around me, ready to be Christ’s presence however I can.
I want to be more Christ-like. I’m tired of being insensitive in the little things I say and in the little things I don’t say. I want to have the mind and heart of Christ.
How does this happen, after a lifetime of being self-centered? Resolutions and guilt trips don’t work. But I’m finding the answer is much simpler. Whenever I realize that I stand in Christ’s presence, my heart is drawn to Him in prayer. And as I turn to Him, He soon brings other people to mind. When I pray, He frees me from bondage to myself and into the freedom of love. And I can pray anytime.
Sitting in church on a Sunday morning, the Lord prompts me to pray for the needs around me:
In traffic, passing coworkers in the office, or in my home, He is ready to share His mind and His heart with me. He just calls me to turn to Him more often as I live in His presence.
Lord, draw me to You.
It is personal conversation with Him.
Who can pray?
God only asks that we trust Him –
that we believe
He is listening and
will respond to us.
How do I pray?
Simply talk to Him, from your heart.
You can pray in silence or out loud,
sitting, kneeling, or in any position.
How long should I pray?
Prayers can be as short as a single sentence, or
as long as you need them to be.
Where should I pray?
God is always with you and is always listening.
Pray anywhere – at home, at work, or
in the privacy of your car as you drive.
Pray alone or with others.
What should I talk to God about?
Whatever is on your mind.
Thank Him for His many wonderful gifts.
Share your problems and ask for His help.
Pray for others – for your family, your friends,
your nation, your world . . . or
for the person ahead of you in line.
God is always with you.
He always listens when you pray.
Pray for each other (James 5:16, NIV).
My daily walks are my prayer time. It’s a wonderful, beautiful time alone with the Lord.
But even then, foolish, selfish daydreams invade my thoughts. I don’t want my mind or my time spent that way, so I asked the Lord to help me.
He answered my prayer. He challenged me to look into the faces of the people I pass and pray for them.
When I do, I find that my thoughts are turned away from myself and toward those around me. The love of Christ is stirred in me.
Prayer is a wonderful privilege. It is there throughout the day, always available to realign our hearts and minds with Christ and His love. Make prayer a constant part of your life.
Jesus went out to a mountainside to pray, and spent the night praying to God.
(Luke 6:12, NIV)
Jesus, You prayed so much when You were here on earth.
At times You ministered to people through the day,
then prayed through the night.
How did You do it, Lord?
For You, was prayer work,
or was it rest?
Did You need to rest from praying,
or was prayer itself a type of rest?
For me, should prayer be labor,
an activity requiring energy and discipline,
an obligation to be endured?
Or should it be rest,
a retreat into You?
If I trusted the Father as You did and
relied on Him completely,
then what would prayer be for me?
Jesus, my Savior,
You are my example.
Teach me to pray.