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Wednesday, April 23, 2014

A Time to Pray

Lately, God has been impressing upon my heart the beauty, the power, and the simplicity of prayer. I've been drawn back to a child-like state of speaking with my Heavenly Father.  I've been convicted to not wait to pray about something, but stop in the moment and just pray. Pray over the phone with a friend who is rejoicing or mourning. Pray on a plane with the stranger next to me. Pray when I stub my toe for the thousandth time (instead of complain or say a word I might regret). Pray for the person about whom I'm tempted to gossip.  Pray for the person that may have wronged me. Pray with hope. Pray with passion. Pray with simple words, attempting to listen to God more than merely talking at Him.  My prayer life is not where I hope it to be, but I am reminded that it is not my power working, but rather the Spirit of God working within me to transform my thoughts and prayers. I hope this reflection encourages you, whether you haven't prayed in weeks, or you pray every hour of every day, to dig deeper into the power of prayer, rejoicing in your communion with your Heavenly Father through the finished work of Christ and intercession of the Holy Spirit.


Let's become small, because God is big. Let's become like a child, for a child's faith is exactly that which our Lord desires and demands. Oswald Chambers illuminates the power of prayer, ""In the eyes of those who do not know God, it is madness to trust Him, but when we pray in the Holy Spirit we begin to realize the resources of God- that He is our perfect Heavenly Father, and we are His children...The revelation here is of the free kingdom of love...in which the one who prays is conscious of limit only through the moral nature of the Father's holiness...We are God's children, and we just stay before Him with our broken treasure or our pain and watch Him mend or heal in such a way that we understand Him better." A child's faith is bold. It is sweet surrender, free and honest. A child has not tried to grip the handles of control over life yet. Prayers uttered by a small child are never lofty and verbose, but straight-forward, real, and incredibly simple.

A little girl wears no masks when she asks her daddy questions of the world and tells him her wishes and her joys, her pain and her fears.  Even so, let us be like that little girl, going to our Heavenly Papa-  no masks, no speeches, just honest conversation. Listening to His gentle voice; then speaking in response from our own heart to tell of our happiness, our sadness, our desires, our questions, our everything. Let us not get caught up in asking for so much, that we forget to seek the Giver more than the good gifts. "Praise and thank God more than you ask for favors. "When you ask God for a favor, stick with it until He gives it, or until you see why He withheld it," my pastor, S. Bowen Matthews, has challenged our church body. So may we pray in bold faith, holding onto the promises of God, and may we pray in surrender, where we do not know what exactly His promises entail. "By scriptural warrant, prayer may be divided into petition of faith and that of submission," E.M. Bounds shares as he examines the prayers of Abraham, Moses, and Daniel.

From where might our prayers arise? If we attempt to pray like a child, do we come up with prayer on our own...or is there a greater Source to our prayers? Is there a Truth and Word from which they emanate? Lauren F. Winner in her book, Still, writes about a study by psychologists on children's evolving understanding of prayer. As they get older, children seem to "understand that prayers come from within themselves," and they see themselves as the author of their prayers.  Winner notes, however, "I think it is something those children will unlearn, later, if they keep praying...I think they will come to know that their prayers do not, in fact, come from within themselves. I can participate in prayer...but I am not the author of my prayers; when they come, they come from God."

If true prayer is the work of God manifested in our lives, then it must come forth through the power of His Word and His Spirit. How does prayer originate from God? There is a beautiful invitation awaiting you in the form of the greatest love letter ever known to man. Let us dare to dig into the Eternal Word and soak in the truth that sets hearts and minds free. Let us meditate on His law day and night and find out for ourselves that His Word is sweeter than honey. Let us build our lives upon the Rock of the Word, where the sinking sands of this present age will not bring us down, for we are fixed and stable as His everlasting truth concurrently binds us to Him and frees us from all that entangles in this life. E.M. Bounds touches on the mystery of God's word working through prayer: "The Word of God is the fulcrum upon which the lever of prayer is placed, and by which things are mightily moved. The Word of God is made effectual and operative, by the process and practice of prayer." Bob Sorge echoes this very sentiment: "The one who meditates in God's word will slowly transform the inner well from which his soul draws...The sweetest morsels...are those which Jesus gives directly to your own heart. When the Holy Spirit custom-fits the word to your life circumstances, the sustaining power of His personalized word has the ability to carry you through great tribulation. This is the true fountain of life!"

So let yourself escape away from the noise and clamor of the world today, even for a few moments. Pick up your dusty Bible or use your high-tech app.  Find a handful of verses to soak into your spirit. Become a sponge deep on the ocean floor of God's mercy and truth. Listen in prayer to His voice of Love. Wait. Then speak. Speak with boldness like a little child, with raw and rugged honesty. Let His Word become the words on your lips. Let prayer transform you and draw you deep into a secret place with the Father. And let yourself be taken there to the secret chamber of communion again tomorrow, and the tomorrow after that...and every day, until it is your most sacred part of each day, and the days are a collection of holy moments, and all the holy moments become a resting place under His Wing. There you'll hear the Word in utter reliance and dependence,  and you'll speak the Word in unreserved power and passion, and your faith will become like a child in sheer simplicity and sincerity.