< What I Learned Teaching Sunday School: More on Prayer from Growing Your Soul

Sunday, March 11, 2007

More on Prayer from Growing Your Soul

- Prayer also requires wholehearted honesty – which should probably go without saying. (Isaiah 59:1-2) Unworthy thoughts and sinful deeds hinder communication with God. He wants humility and authenticity. God knows everything, including our attitudes. We cannot bluff Him. Sometimes we almost convince ourselves of something with our self-delusion, our rationalization and half-truths. Honest prayer changes that.

- Prayer judges integrity. This may surprise you, but some people who go to church aren’t very nice OR very honest the other 6 days of the week. And some ministers and priests sin big time! This fits the last one in that when you pray realizing God knows everything you begin to see your actions through His eyes.

- Prayer helps us determine what’s a minor irritation and what is truly significant.

- Prayer frees us from self-centeredness. The author suggests when we pray for something we should also ask ourselves: will our world, church and family be better? Who will get the credit? If you pray for your spiritual life who will gain from your piety? Will you mirror the purposes of God more clearly? If you pray for a job promotion and more money – how will that outcome affect your faith? If you have more money or a higher position – how’s that going to help people?

- Prayer motivates action. The author here says when we offer intercessory prayer; God may very well ask us what we’re going to do to help out? If we’re praying for a sick friend – are we also going to stop by and offer to: cook, clean, take the kids somewhere, pick up something at the store, send a card?….

- Prayer often gets us to answer our own petitions. It could be that God expects specific usefulness from us for every answered prayer. Linking to God through prayer gives us the strength to take action.

- Prayer also tears down our feelings of uselessness. An older person who feels they are no longer needed can always pray. A person in a job that they feel is unimportant and that they are not contributing anything to can always pray. No one can do anything more important than pray for someone else. And prayer blesses twice when it’s intercessory. The person praying and the one prayed for. And I would even suggest – more than 2 – it can be like the rock tossed into the lake – who knows how far the ripples will go? He also says that it’s wrong to do a Christian service without prayer because it’s a temptation to the ego of the doer and therefore a potential problem for the one who receives the benefits.

- Prayer admits absolute dependence. We’ve all heard there are no atheists in foxholes. President Lincoln said that during his most demanding days of Presidency, “I have been driven to my knees by the overwhelming conviction that I have no other place to go: my own wisdom and that around me seemed insufficient for the day.” We have days when our own wisdom just isn’t enough: parenting, sickness, divorce, relationships, forgiveness and death. It’s the most natural thing in the world to turn to God in those circumstances.

- Prayer cultivates friendship with God. This made me think of how people bond more when they work together or go through a trial together: prayer acknowledges that God’s right there going through something with us. So our relationship gets stronger. Psychiatrists will often tell you people already possess answers to their own problems deep down in their psyches. And they can be discovered by verbalizing the problem in conversations. Prayer allows you to do that.

Have you ever started to ask a question in a class or during a presentation and before you even finish the question you find yourself saying, “Oh, wait – now I see”? I guess God can be our own personal psychiatrist. So just tell Him everything that’s on your heart – nothing will shock or surprise Him – EVER! Tell Him your troubles, your joys, your dislikes, your temptation, your longings, when someone’s hurt or disappointed you – candid conversation with God takes spirituality into all levels of life. And it’s not that He doesn’t know any of this stuff you’re thinking or going through, but it helps you sort through and have the “Oh, wait, now I see” moment.

Frequent contact and serious conversation deepens our friendship with God and the intimacy that it develops is a thousand times more meaningful then the SOS’s we send out in the middle of a problem.

Labels: , ,


Post a Comment

<< Home