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Posts Tagged ‘#prayerchangesme’

FullSizeRenderIt is an age old question …

Does prayer, does praying, make a difference?

I heard a line in the movie Shadowlands, many years ago, that has become my own understanding and belief for why I pray:

“I pray because I can’t help myself. I pray because I’m helpless. I pray because the need flows out of me all the time, waking and sleeping. It doesn’t change God. It changes me.”

Though I cannot find evidence of CS Lewis actually saying those words, Lewis does lead us to a model for prayer: “for most of us the prayer in Gethsemane is the only model.”

It was in the Garden of Gethsemane, where Jesus prayed “my Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass me by. Yet not as I will, but as you will.” (Matthew 26:39). His  request, offered up, to his God and Father, was offered up three times, and was denied. This reality of God not answering Jesus prayerful request, is a reality that we must remember, for if God would deny Jesus … we too will sometimes be denied.

Lewis also reminds us, “prayer is request. The essence of request, as distinct from compulsion, is that it may or may not be granted.”

At Gethsemane, Jesus also gives us an example of how to make such a request to God in saying “if it is possible” and “not as I will, but as I will but as you will.” I believe that this is what the author of Philippians is referring to when he wrote,  “Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 2:5). We need to seek to have the mind of God as we pray, acknowledging that he is the author of life, that his plan is sovereign.

Even those things that we pray that we think could have only a ‘yes’ response, for it to be the ‘godly’ outcome. I remember laying on a hospital bed, awaiting just one more sonogram. I remember praying that God would allow us to see that heart beat, to show his power, to allow us to praise him for a miracle. The following day, recovering from surgery to remove that heart that remained still on the sonogram, as I looked up to the sky, I tried to gripe and complain to him … about his denial of my request, but all I could say were the same words from Gethsemane … “not my will, but yours”.

I can think of recent times when it seemed as though God was silent in response to my crying out to him. Yet, in the days and weeks and months that past, my prayers were indeed being answered, by other people, who God has used as vessels for encouragement, to meet real needs, to cheer on and to be the hands and feet of him. These people, being our Aaron, holding us up to God, so that the enemy would not have the victory.

God’s mind, his will, is never for the enemy to be victorious.

Prayer makes a difference.

It causes us to acknowledge God’s sovereignty.

It is request … and we have to accept that the response to a request is in the hands of the one we ask.

It is submission to the answer.

Prayer of others, for us, is the support that keeps us from failing, that keeps the enemy from victory.

It is an evolution of our human minds to God’s own mind.

I pray to change me, to change my heart and mind and will, but not change the unchangeable God.

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IMG_3142

(obviously I love alliteration …)

Sometimes we forget what we know in exchange for what we feel.

I had that happen when I read a news article about Canada’s Prime Minister, rolled my eyes and thought … well, not nice thoughts. That was the feel part.

In the midst of my negativity, another thought, one might even say a still, small voice quieted my negativity …

pray for your leaders

I knew I had heard it before, and I was pretty certain that it was from (what I declare, over and over as the source of truth) …

the Bible.

That still, small voice followed me, for days and weeks. It haunted every social media feed, every radio and television newscast. Finally, I did what I knew it was whispering in my ear to do … see what the Bible does say.

1 Timothy 2:1-4 reminds, instructs us:

I urge, then, first of all,
that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving
be made for all people—

for kings and all those in authority,
that we may live peaceful and quiet lives
in all godliness and holiness.

This is good, and pleases God our Savior,
who wants all people to be saved
and to come to a knowledge of the truth.

Well now … that’s a bit of a spanking of biblical proportions!

And so, I (and maybe we) do a bit of a readjustment.

Timothy (that younger, right-hand-man of Paul), tells the Christians of the day (and every day after) to:

  • make petitions/requests of God for all people— for kings and all those in authority. 
  • pray for all people— for kings and all those in authority. 
  • interceed/speak for all people— for kings and all those in authority. 
  • give thanks for all people— for kings and all those in authority. 

Our leaders, whether we voted for them … or not, whether we agree with them … or not, whether we like them … or not, live in a fish bowl of pressure, responsibility and with divergent voices all around (kinda like that of a pastor … but I digress), need our prayers … even if our leader does not acknowledge to whom we are praying. It is our responsibility, straight from the Bible, to pray for our leaders … and it pleases God our Saviour.”

Do you ever wonder might be the fruit for our countries, if Christ-followers, committed our leaders in prayer?

“It is a great privilege
as well as our responsibility
to pray for our government leaders”

Billy Graham

 

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I feel so honoured when people ask me to pray for them. It is as though they are drawing me into an intimate trust relationship. Most often, when someone does ask me to pray I start whispering intercession immediately from my heart to the heart of God (partially because I have a short memory and I don’t want to forget).

Recently I had a day … a dark and stormy day (and night … and day … on repeat). One of those days we all have once in a while, when everything seems to go wrong, fall apart and weigh fully on our shoulders.

I was really down, and knew I did not want to stay in the mire of that day. So I did what I usually struggle to do … I contacted a handful of friends, told them of my dark and story countenance, and asked if they would pray.

It was still dark and stormy, there were still things that went wrong, that fell apart, but the load was lighter … because the load was lighter.

Praying for each other is drawing each other into an intimate trust relationship, it is sharing the load … the load of real life, that we were never intended to carry alone.

As I drove to work, the next day, the clouds parted (literally), showing the bright light of the sun and the clear blue of the sky. It was as if creation was reminding me of how the dark clouds had parted the evening before, when I swallowed my pride and asked for prayer.

“In the same way,
prayer is essential in this ongoing warfare.
Pray hard and long.
Pray for your brothers and sisters.
Keep your eyes open.
Keep each other’s spirits up
so that no one falls behind or drops out.”
Ephesians 6:18

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Lets Pray

CS Lewis said,

I pray because I can’t help myself. I pray because I’m helpless. I pray because the need flows out of me all the time- waking and sleeping. It doesn’t change God- it changes me.”

When life is rolling along, and we are happy and content, prayer often gets forgotten, other than momentary whispers of thanks. But, when struggles, heartaches and worries mount, we are often more aware of our need to pray.

I liken prayer to taking vitamins.

Certainly, much of the nutrition I need comes from my food, but vitamins fill in the blanks, topping our bodies up on what our food does not. With vitamins, I feel I have an element of extra protection for my body.

Sometimes (especially on holidays) I forget to take my vitamins, forgoing my routine, and they sit, un-utilized for weeks at a time. Then I notice my joints aching, my energy lagging and the effects of low iron. Immediately I return to my routine, knowing that the results will take days or weeks to be felt.

I know, from past experience, that the wait will be worthwhile!

Prayer is similar. When I am practising daily prayer, I have balance in my life. Even though there may be challenging days, I have the assurance that my soul is protected. But, sometimes I get out of the practise. I can go days, even weeks, without bowing my knee (will) to God in prayer. Then, I notice my heart is heavy, fears begin to invade my thoughts and I am rather dissatisfied with life.

The difference between taking vitamins and praying, is that, returning to the practise of prayer produces immediate results.

Lets not stop practising this life-giving habit. It’s benefits far outreach changing the situations around us, for it’s benefits can change our hearts.

pray

“Then Jesus told his disciples a parable
to show them that they should
always pray and not give up.”
Luke 18:1

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