CONTINUING THOUGHTS ON PRAYER
Last month I gave readers some thoughts on praying and some ideas for structuring a time spent in prayer. This month continues with the aspects of prayer containing a time of confession, meditation, intercession and supplication.
Remember the verse from 1 John:
“If we confess our sins, God is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness”. If you cannot think of anything very specific, ask God to reveal to you
anything that is causing him displeasure. It may be a habit that isstopping you from growing as a Christian, or an attitude, or resentment of something or someone.
Reflect on the Ten Commandments, Ex. Ch. 20 1-17 and see if any of them apply to you now. Think about ‘Love your neighbor as yourself’. Say you are sorry and receive God’sforgiveness. Think through your day asif Jesus had been there with you or listening to your conversations. Would you have felt comfortable with him there? If not, why not?
With God there is no fishing.Once you have asked for hisforgiveness, that’s
it. Remember the woman taken in adultery?
MEDITATE (in other wordstake time to think about God through means of his Holy Scriptures).
The subject of mindfulness has emerged in the past few years and become very popular as a means of de-stressing from sometimes very busy or messy lives. The Bible talks about our minds and God himself gave us the commandment to Worship the Lord your God with all of your heart, mind, soul and strength. So God knows how important our minds are to our bodily and spiritual health. The increased challenges facing people in school and the workplace are also burdening them with mental dis-ease.
The Jewish Old Testament contains 150 wonderful songs (psalms) which were written for use by the Jewish tribes and many of them were written by King David. These Psalms have sustained Christians also and they are a good jumping off place for coming apart quietly with God.
Find a Bible. Find a Psalm which means something to you. The following are some good choices.
Ps. 5 Ps.8 Ps. 17. 6-9
Ps. 27. Ps. 42 vv. 1-5 Ps. 103 1-6,
Ps. 108 1-5, Ps. 107 1-9 Ps.111.1-5,
Ps.113. 4-6, Ps. 119, Ps. 145, vv. 8-9 and 17-20
Read it through quite slowly. Reflect on the mood being expressed and take the wordsinto your own mind and spirit. Worship God through these verses.
Psalm 23 has a special place in English culture and the first words‘The Lord is my shepherd’can become a realstatement of praise. Speak out that line, emphasizing each word in turn.
The LORD is my shepherd.
The Lord IS my shepherd.
The lord is MY shepherd.
The Lord is my SHEPHERD.
See how differently the sentence comes across in this way.
Another fantastic psalm is Ps. 49. This one helpsthe reader to stay focused on the things of God in the midst of our secular world and all its ‘attractions’
INTERCESSION AND SUPPLICATION (asking for others, asking for yourself)
Interceding means standing between God and the situation. You are the instrument through prayer and want God to change something. If there is some kind ofsituation that you feel is contrary to God’s will, and you really feel you want to see it change, come to God and begin to ask Him to
change things. It may be that there are people involved whose attitudes need softening. Ask God to blessthem. It can be helpful holding the name of people in your hands and just offering them to God. Or the name of a situation which is challenging – ill health or relationship problems, major political issues and those trying to balance many different attitudes to things. Again hold them in your hand and bring them to God.You may not have words but the Holy Spirit can pray on our behalf.
This is focusing on your own needs and coming to God to ask for his blessing. Asking God for things is more personal. He is a Father who loves us and wants to give us good things (Luke 11.) (bread and stones?). Think hard about the things you ask God to give you – in Ephesians Paul asks that the Holy Spirit might help the Ephesians to grow in their knowledge of God. Do you need guidance about moving? Or about your relationship with loved ones in your family? Or for practical help or a new direction in your life? Bring these thingsto God and ask him to make situations clearer.
Ask also for the spiritual gifts such as patience, wisdom, love, self-control,
Perhaps you need guidance to make an important decision. Ask God to give you a word from scripture or from trusted Christian friends. In Matt. Chap. 6 Jesus tells us our heavenly Father knows what we need before we ask him.
EVERY TIME OF PRAYER STARTS WITHTHE WILL.
TAKE TIME TO BE QUIET.
EXPECT TO COME INTO GOD’S PRESENCE.
START SMALL BUT BE FAITHFUL.
LET GOD GROW YOU’RE
A ROUGH GUIDE TO PRAYER
1. Praise God – for his creation and all it tells us about God’s nature.
2. Wait on God
3. Read a verse of scripture. Think about it. Does it tell you more
about God and his nature, or his creation or his promises. Can
you take these into your prayer life?
4. Confession time
5. Intercession – make a list of things/people to pray for over the
whole week, e.g.
SUNDAY The Minister and support clergy, their families, lay preachers, elders and children’s workers.
MONDAY People involved in caring: at home, particularly young carers, those caring for relations suffering from dementia or disabling conditions; those in residential homes, hospitals, clinics, prisons. Those involved with asylum seekers and people who have been trafficked.
TUESDAY For civil servants, councilors, ministers in govern
ment departments. Pray for good standards of service, integrity and decisions which honour God.
WEDNESDAY For police personnel, fire fighters, paramedics and the armed services. For those who are involved with keeping the country safe in any way.
THURSDAY For the Christian church in our land, especially for small and struggling congregations, whether in town or country. For their pastors and ministers and the members who serve God in their communities.
FRIDAY For those working abroad in the mission field. For medical personnel, teachers, agriculturalists and Bible translators. For their children, either with them or boarding elsewhere; for the parents of mission families, often far away.
For Theological and Bible colleges that they may receive good funding and students.
SATURDAY For your own personal friends, neighbors and
specific needs. For opportunities through conversations to spread the knowledge of Jesus love. For any specific item in the news which God lays on your heart. For integrity in media coverage
Another way of bringing prayer into your life is to occasionally go round your house and observe the objects you have there. Many of them I suspect will have been given to you by friends or family members. Lift the object up and look at it (i.e. photo or picture). Ask God to hold the person whom it reminds you of in His hands and given them His blessing. I have myself some smallstones which once were on the mantelpiece. Each stone represented a member of my family. From time to time I would pick up each stone and simply hold it while offering that person in prayer to Jesus.
For those who are artistic, you might like to try and express one of the psalms through drawing or painting. Words in themselves can be quite limiting as we all know. But God’s glory is expressed through his created world and if you have artistic talent let Him bless you in that way. For myself, as a musician, I can praise God when I play hymns and worship songs and music is another God-given means of entering into His presence. (I think of J.S. Bach here too.)
Keeping a record of your prayers. This can be very useful as it is very easy sometimes to forget what you have prayed for. Also, keep a record of any blessings which you feel have
come to you from God. Share these with friends as you feel led.
May you enjoy praying more.