RSS

Monthly Archives: January 2013

Chapter 15: Realizing the Struggle of Prayer

Isaiah 30:15: “This is what the Sovereign LORD, the Holy One of Israel, says: In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength, but you would have none of it” (NIV).

Main Idea

One of the truly beautiful things about Christianity is intimate prayer with Jesus Christ. But prayer should be focused and centered on the living presence of God. A key difficulty many Christ followers struggle with is quieting their minds in prayer. But when we can, we form an unbreakable, cherished bond with God.

Story

We all receive up to 3500 sensory stimuli a day. With wireless and technological advances, we are bombarded with so many messages, we can easily overload. One of my greatest assets in working with children is my ability to do twenty things at once. I can talk to a co-worker, do my daily paperwork, treat my clients, all while arranging travel itineraries to yet another conference. Being an ADHD individual, my mind is at its best going twenty different directions. But when I sit down to pray, this “asset” becomes my greatest weakness. I can’t let go of the five loads of laundry demanding my attention in order to listen to the still small voice that God uses to speak to me. I find my most excellent rest in the small hours of the morning after I have exercised and before everyone is awake and the distractions are at a minimum. Only then do I stop and feel God’s beating heart, and we are one. I find peace and intimacy with the One who created me, the One who molded my personality. From this experience, I can say that in my weakness, God gives me rest.

Discussion

As a Christian grows in Christ, her status evolves from acquaintance to friendship to a deep relationship. But this only happens through prayer. Prayer is what binds our hearts and minds to the spiritual world, yet keeps us in the physical world. Therefore, it is crucial for every Christ-follower to devote time and effort in prayer.

Challenge

Every day, morning and night, give a certain amount of time to God, just praying. Focus your mind completely on Him. That may sound easy, but it is not. But with persistence, faith, determination, and the mighty power of God, you will overcome the barrier of distraction. It will not be a fight anymore, but only a pure joy to speak to the Author of your story, the Finisher of your faith, the King of your soul.

Advertisements
 
2 Comments

Posted by on January 31, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Chapter 14: Learning to Pray Scripture

1 John 5:14-15: “This is the confidence which we have before Him, that, if we ask anything according to His will, he hears us. And if we know that He hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests which we have asked from Him.”

Main Idea

This week Thrasher helps us to understand what it means to learn to “pray scripture.” For many this is an idea not often used when we pray. We just come with our laundry list of needs and people, and we pray through the list of “I want…” or “please bless these people.” Thrasher tells us regarding the practice of prayer that “the greatest help did not come from these excellent books [on prayer] but rather from the Scriptures themselves. The most significant aid came from going through the Bible and praying the prayers of Scripture” (95). That is a powerful statement!

The prayers that Thrasher lays out are the beginning examples of what he learned. He writes, “there is a difference in knowing a truth of God’s will or desire and being controlled by this truth” (102).

He shows us in Ephesians 1:3-14 that this prayer is praying for spiritual enlightenment through praying for hope in “one’s own life and the lives of others.” This prayer also brings about the understanding of the “inheritance among the saints”—how God considers us and communicates to us about being His treasure and that we also would know His power. This power is shown through the resurrection power, which gives “victory over sin and death,” and the power of His authority over all creation and that all things are under Him.

The prayer in Ephesians 3:14-21 is a prayer for us who have the Spirit living within us, to lay hold of God’s power and to embrace the depth of the riches of His love for us.

Philippians 1:9-11 is another way in which we can know and understand God’s great love for us and how “God would help us put our stamp of approval or choice on the most excellent ways to express our love” (101). Thrasher goes on to say that “we will never be able to make these correct choices apart from the help of God” (and His love).

The last prayer that Thrasher shows us is Colossians 1:9-12. In this Scripture we see that God’s desire for us is to know Him. In knowing Him we will bear fruit for others with whom we are in contact. This becomes abiding in God, which is our ultimate goal as we glorify God through our walk with Him.

My Story

I think for many as well as for myself we do not think to pray, either silently or out loud, the prayers that God has given us in Scripture. As we look, read, and then fully give ourselves to embracing and internalizing the prayers that God has given us, we will begin to sense more of what God wants for us in and through His will, and not so much what we may think we need to bring before the Lord. There is nothing wrong with bringing our needs before the Lord. Scripture tells us that in many places. I think, though, that as Thrasher has shown us in this chapter and the prayers that he lays out, there is great depth that comes in our walk with God when we pray through the prayers He has given us through Scripture. We come to know His will in a defining way as opposed to wanting our will to be brought to God and have our way accomplished.

Discussion

The quote at the beginning of chapter fourteen I think is an excellent thought to bring all of this to a focused conclusion.

“The key is to pray according to God’s will. To know His will we must know His thoughts. To know His thoughts we must saturate our minds with His word. Then we will begin to experience the authority of God in our prayers.”—Charles Henley

I do not know about you, but for me this has been enlightening and encouraging to make the effort, take the time, go back, focus and pray through these prayers in Ephesians I:15-23, 3:14-21, Philippians 1:9-11 and Colossians 1:9-12. This week take some quiet time and pick one of these prayers. Read, embrace, digest and pray through these scriptures so that your spiritual eyes may be opened to the depth of God’s love for us and the understanding of HIS will in our lives!  There are many more prayers in the Scriptures that continue to teach us more of who God is and His will for us—search them out! Let us know your thoughts. And don’t forget to journal.

 
1 Comment

Posted by on January 21, 2013 in Book Study, Prayer

 

Tags: , , , ,

Chapter 13: Learning How to Pray for Christlike Growth

Luke 2:40 “And the Child continued to grow and became strong, increasing in wisdom; and the grace of God was upon Him.”

Main Idea

So, far we have seen how our weaknesses, the power of the Holy Spirit and the companionship of others can help us in our prayers. In this next section, the author discusses the help of the word of God.

The Scriptures help us to grow in our faith, expanding our capacity to pray and providing powerful motivation. When we read the word of God we can also learn from the example of others.

Thrasher calls upon our Supreme example given in the above passage. Here we see that Luke describes the young Jesus as becoming strong, increasing in wisdom and the grace of God. It is also probable that this passage can be better understood by comparing it Luke 2:52 which describes Jesus as growing in wisdom and stature in favor with God and man.

Jesus grew in strength and was physically strong most likely because of His profession as a “tekton” which is often translated “carpenter” but could also mean a stone-cutter or mason. Thrasher makes a case for Him growing in strong in spirit which is no doubt also true. I found it particularly interesting to ponder what it means to be “strengthened in our spirit or in the inner man” as it states in Ephesians 3:16. Though there is much more here than meets the eye and much more than I can attempt to explain or understand. There does seem to be a sense in which the believer can be strengthened in his spirit through the exercise of faith as the body can be strong through physical exercise.

The young Jesus also increased in wisdom which carries the idea of skillful living and discernment that is rooted in seeing life from God’s perspective.

Lastly, “the grace of God was upon Him.” We see from other passages of Scripture that it is possible to get “more” grace.

Peter says that we can “grow” in grace. (2 Peter 3:18) The writer of Hebrews says that God gives grace in our time of need. (Hebrews 4:16) Paul writes that gave him grace in his weakness (2 Corinthians 12:9) and James says that God has a “greater grace” that He gives to the humble. (James 5:6)

There is a grace that leads to salvation, but that is a mere introduction to the grace in which we stand. (Ephesians 2:8-9; Romans 5:1-2) Like Paul in his exhortation to Timothy, Thrasher encourages us to grow and be “strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus.” (2 Timothy 2:1)

My Story

At this point, I am pondering the meaning of what I just wrote. Sometimes, I find it easier to be content with where I am at and not push for the “greater grace.” This reminds me of a quote by C.S. Lewis that states “We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and lust and ambition when infinite joy is offered to us, like an ignorant child who wants to keep making mud-pies in the slums…because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a vacation at the beach.”

Discussion

1. Have you already experienced the grace that God offers that brings you into a right relationship with HIm? If so, are you ready to take the next step and “grow” in the grace that He offers?

2. If not, what’s hindering you? Ask God to search your heart and help you to be willing to take that next step whatever that might be.

“Dear Lord, I ask you to give me a whole-heart. Don’t let me be content with making mud-pies when there is infinite joy waiting for me.”

 
 

Tags: , , , , , , ,

Chapter 12: Experiencing True Prosperity

John 15:7 “If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.”

Main Idea

True prosperity, as I can best discern from this chapter, describes a “prosperous” relationship with God. Prayer and Scripture go hand-in-hand when it comes to developing our relationship with God. Prayer is our way of speaking with God, and the Scriptures allow us to hear His voice.

Thrasher says, “Without prayer the study of Scripture can turn into a merely intellectual exercise. Prayer without Scripture will lack needed motivation and guidance.”

In this chapter, several points come to mind:

  1. Prayer is essential to time spent in the study of Scripture.
  2. Meditation on these readings is integral to our understanding of God’s intention and the application of His Word in our lives.
  3. The Scriptures offer examples of what to pray for and how to go about it.

My Story

I have had the privilege to sit under the teaching of many gifted, God-directed, Bible teachers and disciple-makers. Below is a link to a wonderful Christian Study aid created by The Navigators Christian Organization. This document demonstrates five ways to incorporate the Scriptures into our lives.

The “Word Hand Illustration by the Navigators Christian Organization.

 
1 Comment

Posted by on January 6, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

Tags: , , , , ,