Prayer will always have an element of mystery to it. We can’t completely figure out how it works or how we interact with God’s will through prayer. But we do know that God tells us to pray, and that He reveals a picture of what prayer should look like in the Bible. This is a resource to get you started in exploring what the Bible says about prayer.
They say that having a child colors your understanding of God and life. That bringing new life into the world changes how you see the world. Until three months ago I didn’t realize how incredibly true this was. I feel like the charcoal sketch that I was looking at has been transformed into the most vibrant of Monet’s. Possibly the most profound instances of this is in regards to how God has painted my understanding of prayer and His emotional nature.
I’ve always prided myself on being a man who was confidently in touch with his emotional side and when it comes to prayer I’ve always prided myself on being the guy who says “it doesn’t matter what you say — just speak and let the Holy Spirit translate it for you!” But if I can be honest, having Maisey has opened my eyes to just how theological I’ve been about all of it. It’s been a standard case of the “head but not heart syndrome”. I’ve known in my mind how God desires us to talk to him in prayer, I’ve known theologically how the Holy Spirit intercedes and translates for us when we talk to God but I haven’t felt God’s heart for us regarding prayer. It took the birth of my daughter for it to finally click.
We live in a noisy world in which busyness is often treated as a badge. Even as we complain about our busyness, many of us would be lost without it. Conscious of it or not, it becomes a defining piece of our identity and worth — in our eyes and in others’.
In our world of constant movement, it can be frustratingly difficult to find consistency and intimacy in prayer. I’m definitely speaking from personal experience. In recent weeks, God has been teaching me about the lost art of attention and how to recover it in the midst of a world that competes for our focus with excessive volume and motion.
To sit in the presence of God in prayer is an act of love and obedience to be sure. It also has a lot in common with the ancient practice of Sabbath. Both are acts of trust. When we choose to step out of our busyness for a moment, we trust that the world will spin without our maintenance. We trust that our work was never really in our hands to begin with.
Speaking for myself, even when I finally sit down to pray, it’s not long before my mind drifts off. I fear that I have destroyed my ability to focus. Faced with the choice between a long exertion and a quick reward, I will consistently chose the latter. But just as I’ve trained my brain to be distracted, I can re-train myself to foster attentiveness. I can’t cure my distraction, but I can give God space to do it.
Week 2: Connect With Others
Day 1: What We Are To Each Other – The Church As Christ’s Body
1 Corinthians 12:12-27
12 Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ.13 For we were all baptized by one Spirit so as to form one body—whether Jews or Gentiles, slave or free—and we were all given the one Spirit to drink. 14 Even so the body is not made up of one part but of many. 15 Now if the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason stop being part of the body. 16 And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason stop being part of the body. 17 If the whole body were an eye, where would the sense of hearing be? If the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be? 18 But in fact God has placed the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be. 19 If they were all one part, where would the body be? 20 As it is, there are many parts, but one body. 21 The eye cannot say to the hand, “I don’t need you!” And the head cannot say to the feet, “I don’t need you!” 22 On the contrary, those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable,23 and the parts that we think are less honorable we treat with special honor. And the parts that are unpresentable are treated with special modesty, 24 while our presentable parts need no special treatment. But God has put the body together, giving greater honor to the parts that lacked it, 25 so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other. 26 If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it. 27 Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it.
A lot of people say they don’t like “organized religion,” but I doubt they like disorganized religion either. What I think they really mean is that they don’t like public religion. They like their faith good and individualistic. They see faith as more like golf than basketball: it’s not a team sport. They think that faith is supposed to be both individual and individualistic.
Week 1: Connect With God
Day 4: The Effects of Christian Conversion
In the last reading, we looked at how Jesus connects us with God through Christian conversion in John 3. We saw that this event has two contributions: We come to repentance and faith, and God does the supernatural, miraculous work of regeneration. This is what Christians are talking about when they say that they have “been saved,” “accepted Christ,” “been converted,” “been born again,” “become a Christ follower,” “prayed the sinner’s prayer” and so on. It means they’ve turned away from the demands of their depravity, apologized to God for having lived in that depravity, and pledged to trust in Christ’s death and resurrection for them, living under his leadership.
2 Timothy 2:1-3 You then, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. 2 And the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable men who will also be qualified to teach others. 3 Endure hardship with us like a good soldier of Christ Jesus.
Titus 2:3-5 3 Likewise, teach the older women to be reverent in the way they live, not to be slanderers or addicted to much wine, but to teach what is good. 4 Then they can train the younger women to…” (NIV)
There’s a difference between seeking a shortcut and choosing to do the most effective thing. Being effective is being maximally efficient while avoiding the detrimental consequences of taking shortcuts that hurt you in the long run. Christianity has very few shortcuts, because Christianity is loving. However, there are more and less effective ways to grow and seek the benefits of following Christ. Continue reading Mentoring: An Investment Like None Other