Archive for the ‘Prayer’ Category

Questions and Answers About Prayer 3

March 18, 2013

Title: Questions and Answers About Prayer 3

Text: Romans 8:26

Time: March 12th, 2013

 

 

During the Easter season this year I’m throwing in another message on prayer because we’re continuing on with Lent, and one of the emphases of returning to the Lord is a return to prayer. I’ve already taught a couple of messages recently on prayer, but today I’d like to talk about it further, and in particular, using a prayer journal or notebook to accomplish more praying. The New Testament teaches, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus,” Philippians 4:6-7.  But the question remains, “How do we pray?” When you think about it, there are many ways to pray – there are many ways to communicate to God. We can pray out loud, verbally, alone or with a group. We can pray silently in our thoughts, also, alone or in a group. We can pray spontaneous prayers that arise from within, within our heart and mind. We can pray written prayers composed by others and set to print in a prayer book or hymnal. We can “pray in tongues,” or as the New Testament describes it, “In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weaknesses. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express,” Romans 8:26. I’ll talk more about that in another message on prayer. But today, I’d like to teach on the helpful practice of recording our prayers in a written journal or notebook – first, writing down specific prayer items or lists of prayer topics; second, praying these specific written prayer items; and third, reviewing our written prayers in order to either continue to pray them, or to rejoice in their answer from God. I’ve been writing down prayers for at least fifteen years now, in big journal books that usually last around four to six months before I have to start a new prayer journal because the old one is filled. I probably average three or four new entries a day, not long written prayers, but short paragraph-length prayer items or prayers. I’ve found this extremely helpful in praying and encouraging me in prayer. We all need to find ways that not only help us pray, but help us continue to pray. Prayer journaling is one way I’ve found helpful in praying and staying in prayer. Now I do most of my praying without a prayer journal, because the bulk of my prayers are said as I’m walking for my daily prayer walk for one hour. I start out in one direction from my house and walk for one half hour praying, then turn around and walk back to the house praying for the last half hour. This is my main prayer for the day. But I use prayer journaling inside my house during different times of the day. Let me explain how I do it. (more…)

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Questions and Answers About Prayer 2

March 2, 2013

Title: Questions and Answers About Prayer 2

Text: Mark 1:35, Acts 1:13-14, Psalm 23:1-2, Romans 8:26-27

Time: February 21st, 2013

 

I’ll be continuing in a message series on prayer, the practical nuts and bolts of actually praying, not so much the theological or theoretical aspects of prayer, although these are important and also interesting as well. What can actually get us into praying, and what can keep us in prayer? I’ve been answering some very basic questions about prayer based on the Bible and my own personal experience in prayer. I pray every day, usually around one hour or so. How often do I actually keep my daily prayer time? Probably about ninety-five percent of the time.  That’s pretty good considering all the modern day distractions of twenty-first century living. It’s not good enough, of course, because my aim is to keep to my prayer schedule one hundred percent. But I’m thankful, by the grace of God, I’m able to pray as often as I do. I’d like to pass along anything and everything I’ve learned through the many years I’ve followed Jesus. How long has it been now that I’ve been following Jesus – I mean, seriously following Jesus? It’s been over thirty-five years. I can hardly believe it, but it’s been that long. And along the way I’ve picked up some knowledge and experience in respect to praying. I’ve got a long way to go and lots to learn still, but I think I have a few things that I know and can pass on to anyone interested in learning. Today, I’d like to cover three more aspects of praying. First, what is the best place to pray? Once we decide we are going to get serious about prayer, we have to figure out where we’re going to do it. I hope I can offer some suggestions. Second, is group prayer important? A lot of times when people think of prayer they think almost exclusively of individual prayer. While that’s the primary way of praying, it’s not the only way of praying. Group prayer is an important, biblical way to pray. Third, should there be any place for written prayers, or should prayer be solely spontaneous verbal or mental? These are very interesting and practical questions that every believer will face at some point in their journey through prayer. Of course, there are a lot more questions we could ask and answer; at some point I hope to answer more questions concerning prayer. But for now, I’d like to focus on the three questions I’ve stated here. My suggested answers won’t make or break your own prayer time – actually nothing will impact your prayer habits for good, unless you yourself decide to apply them. You may already be doing some of things I suggest for prayer; no doubt you won’t be doing all of them, nor is it important that you feel you must do everything I describe. In the end, we all must decide how we will pray, or what’s the best way for us as individuals. But hopefully something I say will inspire and motivate you to pray better than you did before. That’s my goal today. So let me jump right in and get to it. (more…)

Questions and Answers About Prayer 1

February 18, 2013

Title: Questions and Answers About Prayer 1

Text: Luke 11:1

Time: February 7th, 2013

 

I’m going to get really practical today, and teach about prayer. We all know that we should pray because we’ve been taught in Sunday School as little kids and on Sunday morning in church as adults to pray. But for some reason, it goes against our natural inclination to actually pray; thus making it difficult to establish ourselves in the regular daily activity or discipline of prayer.  Of course, it doesn’t help that we live in an increasingly secular, materialistic society. We aren’t given any encouragement from our environment to pray. Instead, we are encouraged to just the opposite of prayer – that is, secular society encourages us not to pray but instead to trust our instincts and “go with our gut” on everything. Now that hasn’t always been the case, but it is now. There once was a time here in the United States, around a hundred years ago or earlier, that society in general encouraged prayer, especially during the special times that occurred once in a while in our country called “revival.” At those times you wouldn’t need to go to church in order to be encouraged to pray – you’d be encouraged simply by living in the local community, because nearly everyone was thinking along spiritual lines. Of course, not everyone even a hundred years ago was so positive towards prayer. Along with a general Christian consensus in our country during most of its history was another belief or philosophy, not nearly as popular but still influential, that discouraged prayer and encouraged only rational thought. It was called Enlightenment thinking. Today in America, this philosophy is also popular, in fact, it’s second only to consulting one’s subjective intuition as the chief means most Americans make decisions and run their lives. Prayer, sadly today, is far down the list as a method of handling life. There’s no doubt that we need another great revival in this country to bring people back to God, and back to prayer. But even among Christians, even among those who know they should turn to prayer in life, few do. Why is that? Isn’t it because prayer is a little difficult – or a lot difficult at times? It’s different from any other type of communication we participate in. It’s essentially talking to a spirit, God, who is invisible and doesn’t give us immediate feedback. It involves talking, by faith, and assuming, also by faith, that God has heard and is acting or reacting with some form of response. But even though prayer is difficult, it’s not impossible; in fact, it’s possible to develop our ability to pray. That’s what I’d like to explain this morning, that is, how to develop our prayer life to the point that prayer isn’t a bother, but instead it’s a joy, something we look forward to. Instead of saying, “I should pray, but I don’t want to,” we’ll say, “I want to pray, and so I will pray.” We’ll take Luke 11:1 as our verse, “One day Jesus was praying in a certain place. When he finished, one of his disciples said to him, ‘Lord, teach us to pray, just as John taught his disciples.’” (more…)