Pastor Bill, “We still do. Most of us struggle with prayer. We forget to pray, and when we remember, we hurry through prayers with hollow words.
Our minds drift; our thoughts scatter like a covey of quail.
Why is this?
Prayer requires minimal effort. No location is prescribed. No particular clothing is required. No title or office is stipulated. Yet you’d think we were wrestling a greased pig.”
I reflect personally here and realize that when I pray the most is when the most prayer is required. Meaning, I don’t get up in the morning and stop to even take five minutes to send up prayers or before I go to sleep.
I remember when we first started at Plymouth Pastor Bill talked about prayer (a year ago) in the guidance of the five fingers (yes, I am calling the thumb a finger).
Finger 1 – For those closest to us
Finger 2 – For those that protect us
Finger 3 – For the clergy and spiritual leaders in our lives
Finger 4 – For the government, whether we like them or not
Finger 5 – For ourselves
Now this is paraphrased a bit, but I believe I got the order correct.
How difficult would it be to stop and say a quick, fervent, earnest, prayer? Obviously, it takes a lot because it is not happening in my life. And I am ashamed of this fact.
When I do take the time to pray it is watching my son leave for school, “Please God don’t let some crazy take his life today,” or Scott going on a business trip, “Please God, bring him safely home,” or when I hear of something that requires a prayer, “Please God…” and though they are of the truest nature, pure of intent, it seems a bit selfish, and very myopic, to only pray when the request is made, or needed. It’s like washing your clothes because they all are stained and there is nothing to wear instead of proactively doing it so you are not rushing around the house in your skivvies late for a business meeting.
What has happened that we don’t take time to pray?
Now I lay me down to sleep,
I pray the Lord my soul to keep.
If I should die before I wake,
I pray the Lord my soul to take.
Child’s bedtime prayer – 18th century
What about blessing a meal, any meal?
Is it that we question the power of prayer? Our open line of communication straight to the Big Man himself? Is it in that lacking of confidence, or taking the time to pray, we are questioning His power, so we just don’t until it becomes really necessary? And what is really necessary to get you on your knees, or in your car at a stoplight, to spend a little time talking to God? What is the necessity to get you to communicate?
Pastor Bill, “Speaking of pigs, Satan seeks to interrupt our prayers. Our battle with prayer is not entirely our fault. The devil knows the stories; he witnessed the Angel in Peter’s cell and the revival in Jerusalem. He knows what happens when we pray. Our weapons have power from God that can destroy the enemy’s strong places. 2Corinthians 10:4.
Satan is not troubled when Bill prepares his sermons but his knobby knees tremble when Bill prays. Satan does not stutter or stumble when you walk through church doors, when we attend committee meetings. Demons aren’t flustered when you read books about God. But the walls of hell shake when one person with an honest heart and faithful confession says, oh God how great Thou Art.
Satan keeps you and me from prayer. He tries to position himself between God and us but he scampers like a spooked dog when we move forward. So let’s do.
Humble yourselves before God Resist the devil and he will flee from you Come close to God and God will come close to you. James 4:7-8.
The Lord is close to everyone who prays to Him, to all who truly pray to Him. Psalm 145:18.
When the children the Israel went to battle against the Amalekites, Moses selected the mountain of prayer over the Valley of the battle Exodus 17:8-13. The Israelites won.
When Abraham learned about the impending destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, he remained standing before the Lord rather than rush out to warn the cities Genesis 18:22.
Advisors informed Nehemiah that Jerusalem was in ruins. He laid a foundation of prayer before he laid the foundation of stone Nehemiah 1:4.”
Then we ask, what do we pray “for”? What do you pray for? Do you pray for power, wealth, money, personal growth and richness? Do you pray only for what will directly impact you?
When a person comes into my life, I pray for them. Whether I know them well or not, they are added to my list. The ones that leave my home on ill terms, well, I should pray for them too, but I don’t. Am I wrong? God would guide me to reconsider and to pray for these people even more.
When I invite my son’s friends into our house, I am inviting them into our lives, our world, and I will care for them as I care for my own children because I know the impact they will have on all of us. I pray because I am selfishly motivated. One day those kids are going to grow up, and if they don’t murder, get murdered or die from some other unforeseen circumstances, they will become a politician, a doctor, a lawyer, a dentist, a caregiver to the old and infirmed – that would be m – and rule our nation. Do I wait to pray until they are grown up with kids and lives of their own creation, or do I start now not knowing where God will guide their lives?
So when you pray, shouldn’t you think about all those people you have never met, because there may come a day when that young man or elderly woman actually will make a difference in your life – directly. How about just pray for them regardless of how they will impact your life, if ever they do, because prayer makes happier people?
Could you imagine if Peter, James, or Paul, prayed only for personal gain and wealth?
Pastor Bill, “Paul’s letters contain more requests for prayer than they do appeals for money, possessions or comfort.
And Jesus, Our prayerful Jesus:
Awakening early to pray Mark 1:35
Dismissing people to pray Matthew 14:23
Ascending the mountain to pray Luke 9:28
Crafting a model prayer to teach us to pray Matthew 6:9-13
Cleansing the temple so other could pray Matthew 21:12-13
Stepping into a garden to pray Luke 22:39-46
Jesus immersed His words and His work in prayer. Powerful things happened when we do the same.”
Bill shared a story about two woman who lived on the coast of Scotland, and in return I shared my own story.
Back in Washington state, where we moved from in 2007, I was a member of MOMS (Moms Offering Moms Support). The meetings were held in a church, and welcomed all Moms of young children – non church affiliation or belief in God needed to exist in your life.
The meetings were all about making it from one week to the next raising our children, tending our husbands, meeting government requirements, and some where in the mix remembering that we are people too. We had a bountiful breakfast provided by members of the group while our children played gleeful on the other side of the building. A two hour respite shared with others that are walking your same path through life.
And yes, we would take a little time to pray. The prayers were driven by needs, and done privately in our little small group meeting.
One day a Mom, whom was at the table adjacent to mine, and whom we all celebrated the arrival of her second child just a week early, was not present. Nobody thought much about the absence, new baby and a toddler at home, it is to be expected.
The group leaders took the stage to begin our morning session. The attendees, about 100 in all, began to slowly drift into silence. That is when we learned that this wonderful woman, this new mom (for a second time) was in the hospital. There was a complication, a week plus, after she gave birth to a beautiful little girl, with her heart. It stopped working.
No time to enjoy her precious bundle of joy, or to comfort her son as they rushed her to the ICU and put her on all kinds of life saving machines while her name was added to the donor list for a heart transplant. The doctors said it was a matter of urgency, and the Mom’s said it is a matter of prayer.
Our whole ensemble began praying. We prayed at the beginning of the mornings meeting, and we prayed at the end. We prayed in our break out groups. We prayed at home. We spoke with hushed sadness to our spouses in prayerful gestures. And we waited.
Our miracle came a month later when, to know explanation of the doctors, her heart healed. She was reunited with her newborn, her son, her husband, and all of us. The resounding prayer that went up to Heaven at that mornings meeting was heard around the world. A beacon of faith surely shot to the moon and returned in the body of a life altered forever.