Spirit Led Living

November 6, 2009

A CHILD’S PRAYER

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Dear God, are You still awake?
Have You got a minute or two?
You’re pretty good at understanding,
And I really need to talk to You.

You see, Mommy came to tuck me in,
Like she does every night.
I was trying to play a trick on her,
Since she can’t see without the light.

I was going to close my eyes
And pretend to be asleep.
But when I heard her crying,
I didn’t dare let out a peep.

She started talking to you, God.
Did You hear the things she said?
Could You hear what she was saying
As she stood beside my bed?

Why would Mommy be so sad?
I wondered just what I had done,
And then I began to remember it all
As she named them one by one…

This morning we worked in the garden,
But, honest, I really didn’t know
That if I picked all those little yellow blooms
The tomatoes wouldn’t grow!

Charlie and I were trying to be helpers,
‘Cause I know that’s what Mommy needs,
But I don’t think she was too happy with us
when we pulled up carrots instead of weeds.

Mommy said we should stop for the day,
she decided we had helped quite enough.
I sure had worked up an appetite…
I didn’t know gardening was so tough!

We had peanut-butter and jelly for lunch
and I shared too much, I guess…
But I didn’t realize until I was done
that Charlie had made such a mess.

Mommy said she needed a nap,
she had one of her headaches today.
She told me to keep an eye on my sister
and find something quiet to play.

Well, God, do You remember all those curls
you gave my little sister Jenny?
We played barber shop…very quietly…
and now, well, she doesn’t have any.

Boy, was Mommy mad at me…
I had to go sit on my bed.
She said never to cut “people hair” again.
I guess I’ll practice on Charlie instead.

We sat and watched poor old Albert,
I just knew he must be so bored
Going round and round
in the same place all day,
Wouldn’t You think so, Lord?

I didn’t think it would hurt
to let him out for a while.
I mean, mice need exercise, too.
By the way, have You seen Albert lately?
He’s been sort of missing since two.

Mommy sent us outside for the rest of the day.
She said we needed fresh air.
But when Daddy came home she told him
She was trying to get something out of her hair.

We thought Mommy needed cheering up,
so we decided to brighten her day.
But, God, did You see the look on her face
When we gave her that pretty bouquet?

We had gotten a little bit dirty,
so Mommy said to get in the tub.
“Use soap this time,” she reminded,
“and please don’t forget to scrub.”

Charlie didn’t like the water too much,
but I lathered up real good.
I knew Mommy would be so proud of me
For cleaning up like I should.

I went downstairs to the table,
but during dinner it started to rain…
I’d forgotten to turn off the water, it seems,
and I hadn’t unplugged the drain!

I decided right then it was just about time
to start getting ready for bed,
When Mommy said, “It’s sure been a long day.”
And her face began turning all red.

I lay there listening to Mommy
as she told You about our day.
I thought about all of the things I had done
and I wondered what I should say.

I was just about to tell her
that I’d been awake all along,
And ask her to please forgive me
for all of those thing I’d done wrong.

When suddenly, I heard her whisper,
“God, forgive me for today…
For not being more understanding
when those problems came my way…

For not handling situations in the way
You wanted me to…for getting angry
and losing my temper,
Things I know You don’t want me to do.

And, God, please give me more patience,
Help me make it through another day,
I’ll do better tomorrow, I promise.
In Jesus’ name I pray.”

Wiping her eyes, she kissed me
and knelt here beside my bed.
She stroked my hair for a little while…”
I love you, precious,” Mommy said.

She left the room without ever knowing
That I’d been awake all the time.
And God, could we make it our little secret?
You know, just Yours and mine?

I’m sorry I was so much trouble today,
I really didn’t mean to be…
Daddy says it’s tough being a kid sometimes,
but I think it’s harder on Mommy than me.

Well, goodnight, God. Thanks for listening.
It’s sure nice to know You’re there.
I feel so much better when I talk to You
’cause You always hear my prayer.

And I’ll do better tomorrow, I promise…
Just You wait and see!
I’ll try not to be so much trouble again,
But, God, please give more patience to Mommy
……Just in case! Amen.

“But Jesus said, Suffer little children, and forbid them not, to come
unto me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven.” – Matthew 19:14

— Author Unknown

November 1, 2009

Noteworthy Distractions | Men of Integrity

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For a long time I had been disturbed about the problem of a wandering mind during my time of prayer.

I would be trying to pray and suddenly my mind would jump to a business appointment I needed to make or something else I had to do. For years I had forced these things out of my mind to get back to “spiritual things.” But now, thanks to a suggestion from my friend, Donn Moomaw, I began to keep a notebook by my side; and when the thought came to me to call someone, to make an appointment, or to do something for the family, I would jot it down and then go back to God.

I was at last realizing that God is interested in my total life and that these things which came into my mind during my time of prayer might be significant things for me to do, or places for me to go. This also made it easier for me to get my mind immediately back to my other prayers.

Sometimes a vision of someone I resented would come floating into my prayers. Instead of trying my best to suppress it, I began to ask God to make my thoughts about this person more like his. Before I knew it, I discovered that God was touching more and more of my life through this time of prayer.

—Keith Miller in The Edge of Adventure

My Response: I will strive to include all aspects of my life in my prayers by …

Thought to Apply: I beg you to see how absolutely vital prayer is.—Charles Spurgeon (British preacher)

Adapted from The Edge of Adventure (WaterBrook, 2005)

Noteworthy Distractions | Men of Integrity.

October 31, 2009

The Kneeling Christian – What Is Prayer

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MR. MOODY was once addressing a crowded meeting of children in Edinburgh. In order to get their attention he began with a question: “What is prayer?” — looking for no reply, and expecting to give the answer himself.

To his amazement scores of little hands shot up all over the hall. He asked one lad to reply; and the answer came at once, clear and correct, “Prayer is an offering up of our desires unto God for things agreeable to His will, in the name of Christ, with confession of our sins and thankful, acknowledgment of His mercies.” Mr. Moody’s delighted comment was, “Thank God, my boy, that you were born in Scotland.” But that was half a century ago. What sort of answer would he get today? How many English children could give a definition of prayer? Think for a moment and decide what answer you yourself would give.

What do we mean by prayer? I believe the vast majority of Christians would say, “Prayer is asking things from God.” But surely prayer is much more than merely “getting God to run our errands for us,” as someone puts it. It is a higher thing than the beggar knocking at the rich man’s door.

The word “prayer” really means “a wish directed towards,” that is, towards God. All that true prayer seeks is God Himself, for with Him we get all we need. Prayer is simply “the turning of the soul to God.” David describes it as the lifting up of the living soul to the living God. “Unto Thee, O Lord, do I lift up my soul” (Psa. 25:1). What a beautiful description of prayer that is! When we desire the Lord Jesus to behold our souls, we also desire that the beauty of holiness may be upon us.

When we lift up our souls to God in prayer it gives God an opportunity to do what He will in us and with us. It is putting ourselves at God’s disposal. God is always on our side. When man prays, it is God’s opportunity. The poet says:

Prayer is the soul’s sincere desire,
Uttered or unexpressed,
The motion of a hidden fire
That trembles in the breast.

“Prayer,” says an old Jewish mystic, “is the moment when heaven and earth kiss each other.”

Prayer, then, is certainly not persuading God to do what we want God to do. It is not bending the will of a reluctant God to our will. It does not change His purpose, although it may release His power. “We must not conceive of prayer as overcoming God’s reluctance,” says Archbishop Trench, “but as laying hold of His highest willingness.”

For God always purposes our greatest good. Even the prayer offered in ignorance and blindness cannot swerve Him from that, although, when we persistently pray for some harmful thing, our wilfulness may bring it about, and we suffer accordingly. “He gave them their request,” says the Psalmist, “but sent leanness into their soul” (Psa. 106:15). They brought this “leanness” upon themselves. They were “cursed with the burden of a granted prayer.”

Prayer, in the minds of some people, is only for emergencies! Danger threatens, sickness comes, things are lacking, difficulties arise — then they pray. Like the infidel down a coal mine: when the roof began to fall he began to pray. An old Christian standing by quietly remarked, “Aye, there’s nowt like cobs of coal to make a man pray.”

Prayer is, however, much more than merely asking God for something, although that is a very valuable part of prayer if only because it reminds us of our utter dependence upon God. It is also communion with God — intercourse with God — talking with (not only to) God. We get to know people by talking with them. We get to know God in like manner. The highest result of prayer is not deliverance from evil, or the securing of some coveted thing, but knowledge of God. “And this is life eternal, that they should know Thee, the only true God” (John 17:3). Yes, prayer discovers more of God, and that is the soul’s greatest discovery. Men still cry out, “O, that I knew where I might find Him, that I might come even to His seat” (Job 23:3).

The kneeling Christian always “finds” Him, and is found of Him. The heavenly vision of the Lord Jesus blinded the eyes of Saul of Tarsus on his downward course, but he tells us, later on, that when he was praying in the temple at Jerusalem he fell into a trance and saw Jesus. “I . . . saw him” (Acts 22:18). Then it was that Christ gave him his great commission to go to the Gentiles. Vision is always a precursor of vocation and venture. It was so with Isaiah. “I saw the Lord high and lifted up, and his train filled the temple” (Isa 6:1). The prophet was evidently in the sanctuary praying when this happened. This vision also was a prelude to a call to service, “Go. . . .” Now, we cannot get a vision of God unless we pray. And where there is no vision the soul perishes.

A vision of God! Brother Lawrence once said, “Prayer is nothing else than a sense of God’s presence” — and that is just the practice of the presence of God.

A friend of Horace Bushnell was present when that man of God prayed. There came over him a wonderful sense of God’s nearness. He says: “When Horace Bushnell buried his face in his hands and prayed, I was afraid to stretch out my hand in the darkness, lest I should touch God.” Was the Psalmist of old conscious of such a thought when he cried, “My soul, wait thou only upon God”? (Psa. 62:5.) I believe that much of our failure in prayer is due to the fact that we have not looked into this question, “What is prayer?” It is good to be conscious that we are always in the presence of God. It is better to gaze upon Him in adoration. But it is best of all to commune with Him as a Friend — and that is prayer.

Real prayer at its highest and best reveals a soul athirst for God — just for God alone. Real prayer comes from the lips of those whose affection is set on things above. What a man of prayer Zinzendorf was. Why? He sought the Giver rather than His gifts. He said: “I have one passion: it is He, He alone.” Even the Mohammedan seems to have got hold of this thought. He says that there are three degrees in prayer. The lowest is that spoken only by the lips. The next is when, by a resolute effort, we succeed in fixing our thoughts on Divine things. The third is when the soul finds it hard to turn away from God. Of course, we know that God bids us “ask” of Him. We all obey Him so far; and we may rest well assured that prayer both pleases God and supplies all our need. But he would be a strange child who only sought his father’s presence when he desired some gift from him! And do we not all yearn to rise to a higher level of prayer than mere petition? How is it to be done?

It seems to me that only two steps are necessary — or shall we say two thoughts? There must be, first of all, a realization of God’s glory, and then of God’s grace. We sometimes sing:

Grace and glory flow from Thee;
Shower, O shower them, Lord, on me.

Nor is such a desire fanciful, although some may ask what God’s glory has to do with prayer.

But ought we not to remind ourselves Who He is to Whom we pray? There is logic in the couplet:

Thou art coming to a King;
Large petitions with thee bring.

Do you think that any one of us spends enough time in pondering over, yes, and marveling over, God’s exceeding great glory? And do you suppose that any one of us has grasped the full meaning of the word “grace”? Are not our prayers so often ineffective and powerless — and sometimes even prayerless — because we rush unthinkingly and unpreparedly into God’s presence, without realizing the majesty and glory of the God Whom we are approaching, and without reflecting upon the exceeding great riches of His glory in Christ Jesus, which we hope to draw upon? We must “think magnificently of God.”

May we then suggest that before we lay our petitions before God we first dwell in meditation upon His glory and then upon His grace — for He offers us both. We must lift up the soul to God. Let us place ourselves, as it were, in the presence of God and direct our prayer to the King of kings, and Lord of lords, Who only hath immortality, dwelling in light unapproachable . . . to Whom be honor and power eternal (I Tim. 6:16). Let us then give Him adoration and praise because of His exceeding great glory. Consecration is not enough. There must be adoration.

“Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord of Hosts,” cry the seraphim; “the whole earth is full of his glory” (Isa. 6:3). “Glory to God in the highest,” cries the “whole multitude of the heavenly host” (Luke 2:14). Yet some of us try to commune with God without stopping to “put off our shoes from off our feet” (Exod. 3:5).

Lips cry “God be merciful”
That ne’er cry “God be praised.”
O come let us adore Him!

And we may approach His glory with boldness. Did not our Lord pray that His disciples might behold His glory? (John 17:24). Why? And why is “the whole earth full of His glory”? The telescope reveals His infinite glory. The microscope reveals His uttermost glory. Even the unaided eye sees surpassing glory in landscape, sunshine, sea and sky. What does it all mean? These things are but a partial revelation of God’s glory. It was not a desire for self-display that led our Lord to pray, “Father, glorify Thy Son” . . . “O Father, glorify Thou Me” (John 17:1,3). Our dear Lord wants us to realize His infinite trustworthiness and unlimited power, so that we can approach Him in simple faith and trust.

In heralding the coming of Christ the prophet declared that “glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together” (Isa. 40:5). Now we must get a glimpse of that glory before we can pray aright. So our Lord said, “When ye pray, say Our Father, Who art in heaven [the realm of glory], hallowed be Thy name.” There is nothing like a glimpse of glory to banish fear and doubt. Before we offer up our petitions may it not help us to offer up our adoration in the words of praise used by some of the saints of old? Some devout souls may not need such help. We are told that Francis of Assisi would frequently spend an hour or two in prayer on the top of Mount Averno, whilst the only word which escaped his lips would be “God” repeated at intervals. He began with adoration — and often stopped there!

But most of us need some help to realize the glory of the invisible God before we can adequately praise and adore Him. Old William Law said, “When you begin to pray, use such expressions of the attributes of God as will make you sensible of His greatness and power.”

This point is of such tremendous importance that we venture to remind our readers of helpful words. Some of us begin every day with a glance heavenwards whilst saying, “Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost.” The prayer, “O Lord God most holy, O Lord most mighty, O holy and merciful Savior!” is often enough to bring a solemn awe and a spirit of holy adoration upon the soul. The Gloria in Excelsis of the Communion Service is most uplifting: “Glory be to God on high and in earth peace. . . . We praise Thee; we bless Thee; we worship Thee; we glorify Thee; we give thanks to Thee for Thy great glory, O Lord God, heavenly King, God the Father Almighty.” Which of us can from the heart utter praise like that and remain unmoved, unconscious of the very presence and wondrous majesty of the Lord God Almighty? A verse of a hymn may serve the same purpose.

My God. how wonderful Thou art!
Thy majesty how bright.
How beautiful Thy mercy-seat
In depths of burning light!
How wonderful, how beautiful
The sight of Thee must be;
Thine endless wisdom, boundless power
And awful purity.
This carries us into the very heavenlies, as also do the words:
Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty,
All Thy works shall praise Thy name
In earth, and sky, and sea.

We need to cry out, and to cry often, “My soul doth magnify the Lord, and my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Savior” (Luke 1:46,47). Can we catch the spirit of the Psalmist and sing, “Bless the Lord, O my soul, and all that is within me, bless His holy name”? (Psa. 103:1.) “Bless the Lord, O my soul. O Lord my God, Thou art very great; Thou are clothed with honor and majesty” (Psa. 104:1). When shall we learn that “in His temple everything saith Glory!” (Psa. 29:9, R.V.) Let us, too, cry, Glory!

Such worship of God, such adoration and praise and thanksgiving, not only put us into the spirit of prayer, but in some mysterious way they help God to work on our behalf. Do you remember those wonderful words, “Whoso, offereth the sacrifice of thanksgiving, glorifyeth Me and prepareth a way that I may show him the salvation of God”?, (Psa. 1:23, R.V., marg.) Praise and thanksgiving not only open the gates of heaven for me to approach God, but also “prepare a way” for God to bless me. St. Paul cries, “Rejoice evermore!” before he says, “Pray without ceasing.” So then our praise, as well as our prayers, is to be without ceasing.

At the raising of Lazarus our Lord’s prayer had as its first utterance a note of thanksgiving. “Father, I thank Thee that Thou heardest Me” (John 11:41). He said it for those around to hear. Yes, and for us to hear.

You may perhaps be wondering why it is that we should specially give thanks to God for His great glory when we kneel in prayer; and why we should spend any time in thinking of and gazing upon that glory. But is He not the King of Glory? All He is and all He does is glory. His holiness is “glorious” (Exod. 15:11). His name is glorious (Deut. 28:58). His work is “glorious” (Psa. 111:3). His power is glorious (Col. 1:11). His voice is glorious (Isa. 30:30).

All things bright and beautiful
All creatures great and small.
All things wise and wonderful,
The Lord God made them all.
for His glory.

“For of him and through him and unto him are all things; to whom be glory for ever” (Rom. 11:36). And this is the God who bids us come to Him in prayer. This God is our God, and He has “gifts for men” (Psa. 68:18). God says that everyone that is called by His name has been created for His glory (Isa. 43:7). His Church is to be a “glorious” Church — holy and without blemish (Eph. 5:27). Have you ever fully realized that the Lord Jesus desires to share with us the glory we see in Him? This is His great gift to you and me, His redeemed ones. Believe me, the more we have of God’s glory, the less shall we seek His gifts. Not only in that day “when he shall come to be glorified in his saints” (II Thess. 1:10) is there glory for us, but here and now — today. He wishes us to be partakers of His glory. Did not our Lord Himself say so? “The glory which thou has given me, I have given unto them,” He declares (John 17:22). What is God’s command? “Arise, shine, for thy light is come, and the glory of the Lord is risen upon thee.” Nay, more than this: “His glory shall be seen upon thee,” says the inspired prophet (Isa. 9:1,2).

God would have people say of us as St. Peter said of the disciples of old: “The Spirit of Glory and the Spirit of God resteth upon you” (I Peter 4:14). Would not that be an answer to most of our prayers? Could we ask for anything better? How can we get this glory? How are we to reflect it? Only as the result of prayer. It is when we pray, that the Holy Spirit takes of the things of Christ and reveals them unto us (John 16:15).

It was when Moses prayed, “Show me, I pray thee, thy glory,” that he not only saw somewhat of it, but shared something of that glory, and his own face shone with the light of it (Exod. 33:18, 34:29). And when we, too, gaze upon the “glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ” (II Cor. 4:6), we shall see not only a glimpse of that glory, but we shall gain something of it ourselves.

Now, that is prayer, and the highest result of prayer. Nor is there any other way of securing that glory, that God may be glorified in us (Isa. 9:21).

Let us often meditate upon Christ’s glory — gaze upon it and so reflect it and receive it. This is what happened to our Lord’s first disciples. They said in awed tones, “We beheld his glory!” Yes, but what followed? A few plain, unlettered, obscure fishermen companied with Christ a little while, seeing His glory; and lo! they themselves caught something of that glory. And then others marveled and “took knowledge of them that they had been with Jesus” (Acts 4:13). And when we can declare, with St. John, “Yea, and our fellowship is with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ” (I John 1:3), people will say the same of us: “They have been with Jesus!”

As we lift up our soul in prayer to the living God, we gain the beauty of holiness as surely as a flower becomes beautiful by living in the sunlight. Was not our Lord Himself transfigured when He prayed? And the “very fashion” of our countenance will change, and we shall have our Mount of Transfiguration when prayer has its rightful place in our lives. And men will see in our faces “the outward and visible sign of an inward and spiritual grace.” Our value to God and to man is in exact proportion to the extent in which we reveal the glory of God to others.

We have dwelt so much upon the glory of Him to Whom we pray, that we must not now speak of His grace.

What is prayer? It is a sign of spiritual life. I should as soon expect life in a dead man as spiritual life in a prayerless soul! Our spirituality and our fruitfulness are always in proportion to the reality of our prayers. If, then, we have at all wandered away from home in the matter of prayer, let us today resolve, “I will arise and go unto my Father, and say unto Him, Father –.”

At this point I laid down my pen, and on the page of the first paper I picked up were these words: “The secret of failure is that we see men rather than God. Romanism trembled when Martin Luther saw God. The ‘great awakening’ sprang into being when Jonathan Edwards saw God. The world became the parish of one man when John Wesley saw God. Multitudes were saved when Whitfield saw God. Thousands of orphans were fed when George Muller saw God. And He is ‘the same yesterday, today, and forever.’ ”

Is it not time that we got a new vision of God — of God in all His glory? Who can say what will happen when the Church sees God? But let us not wait for others. Let us, each one for himself, with unveiled face and unsullied heart, get this vision of the glory of the Lord.

“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God” (Matt. 5:8). No missioner whom it has been my joy to meet ever impressed me quite as much as Dr. Wilbur Chapman. He wrote to a friend: “I have learned some great lessons concerning prayer. At one of our missions in England the audiences were exceedingly small. But I received a note saying that an American missionary . . . was going to pray God’s blessing down upon our work. He was known as ‘Praying Hyde.’ Almost instantly the tide turned. The hall became packed, and at my first invitation fifty men accepted Christ as their Savior. As we were leaving I said, ‘Mr. Hyde, I want you to pray for me.’ He came to my room, turned the key in the door, and dropped on his knees, and waited five minutes without a single syllable coming from his lips. I could hear my own heart thumping and his beating. I felt the hot tears running down my face. I knew I was with God. Then, with upturned face, down which the tears were streaming, he said ‘O God!’ Then for five minutes at least he was still again; and then, when he knew that he was talking with God . . . there came up from the depth of his heart such petitions for men as I had never heard before. I rose from my knees to know what real prayer was. We believe that prayer is mighty, and we believe it as we never did before.”

Dr. Chapman used to say, “It was a season of prayer with John Hyde that made me realize what real prayer was. I owe to him more than I owe to any man for showing me what a prayer-life is, and what a real consecrated life is. . . . Jesus Christ became a new Ideal to me, and I had a glimpse of His prayer-life; and I had a longing which has remained to this day to be a real praying man.” And God the Holy Spirit can so teach us.

Oh, ye who sigh and languish
And mourn your lack of power,
Hear ye this gentle whisper:
“Could ye not watch one hour?”
For fruitfulness and blessing
There is no royal road;
The power for holy service
Is intercourse with God.

 

The Kneeling Christian – What Is Prayer.

Guilt Free A to Z | Men of Integrity

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Theme of the Week: Jumpstarting Sluggish Prayers

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–>Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Key Bible Verse: I urge you, first of all, to pray for all people. Ask God to help them;intercede on their behalf, and give thanks for them (1 Timothy 2:1). Bonus Reading: Daniel 9:1-19

Have you ever created a massive prayer list and then broken it down for each day of the week? If you have, you’ve probably discovered that this approach works well—at producing a whole lof of guilt!

The first day you miss your prayer time, you decide to double up the next day so that no name gets skipped. But this requires that tomorrow you pray for a boatload of people. Eventually, you’ll let dropped days stay dropped—and then feel guilty about all those people for whom you failed to pray.

Let me offer you a guilt-free approach. I keep an A to Z list of friends on one page, front and back, in a notebook I use to record my daily insights from Scripture. I stick a little Post-it note under the person’s name I last prayed for. Some days I have the time to pray for five or six people. Other days I’m in a hurry and may get to only one or two names. And occasionally I miss interceding for others altogether. I just pick up where I left off and continue down my list. It may take a few weeks to cover everyone, but there’s a steady thoroughness to this approach that gives me a sense of deep satisfaction.

—James Nicodem in Prayer Coach

My Response: Without increasing guilt, how might I improve my own intercessory prayer times?

Thought to Apply: Do not pray for easy lives. Pray to be stronger men!—Phillips Brooks (American clergyman & author)

Adapted from Prayer Coach (Crossway, 2008)

Guilt Free A to Z | Men of Integrity.

Guilt Free A to Z | Men of Integrity.

October 30, 2009

Crank Your Engine | Men of Integrity – Jumpstarting Sluggish Prayers

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Who Said It … Peter Lundell

Peter Lundell is a former missionary to Japan and currently pastors Walnut Community Church in Walnut, California. Along with publishing articles in numerous magazines, he’s the author of Armed for Battle, When God Bursts In, and the recently published Prayer Power. Peter’s hobbies include woodworking and surfing the Pacific with a specially designed “surf kayak.” He has a Master of Divinity and Doctor of Missiology from Fuller Theological Seminary. Peter and his wife, Kim, have one daughter.

What He Said … Crank Your Engine

When the automobile was first invented, no one had conceived of a starter. So while one person sat at the wheel, another person stood in front of the car and cranked a handle connected to the engine. Round and round they’d heave the crank until the engine started. This led to phrases like “crank the engine” and “crank it up.”

Sometimes prayer may feel like a dead engine, and it takes deliberate cranking to get the communication started.

Too many times I have experienced the truth of Jesus’ words: “The spirit is willing, but the body is weak” (Mark 14:38). I may sit or stand or walk while I try to talk with God, but my mind is like a dead engine. These are times when I “start in the flesh and end in the Spirit.”

Starting in the flesh and ending in the Spirit means that we may not feel like praying, but we go ahead and pray anyway. As we do this, our prayer starts to flow naturally.

Adapted from Prayer Power (Revell, 2009) by permission

Copyright © 2009 by the author or Christianity Today International/Men of Integrity magazine.

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via Crank Your Engine | Men of Integrity.

October 29, 2009

Prayer – No Frills, No Flair | Men of Integrity

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No Frills, No Flair

Theme of the Week: Jumpstarting Sluggish Prayers

Key Bible Verse: O Lord, you have examined my heart and know everything about me (Psalm 139:1). Bonus Reading: Psalm 139:2-18

There was a time in my life when it seemed as if everyone wanted me to pray aloud at group gatherings. So I would pray, in properly respectful yet down-to-earth tones, choosing my words carefully.

I found myself mimicking my public “performances” in my private times with God. It was during one of these times, late at night, that I felt God speaking to my heart: Mike, exactly who are you praying for?

For months I had been so bent on shaping my prayers for audiences that I’d forgotten I was whispering directly into the ear of God.

I learned something that night: When we come to God in prayer, we must come as we are. No amount of flowery words will impress God. He knows our sinful thoughts and secret desires better than we do. We can’t fool him with impressive praying.

No, if we want to be people who passionately pursue intimacy with God, we must first and foremost have the courage to approach him honestly, completely revealing who we are, what we’ve done, and how we feel each time we call his name. To do less than that is an insult to God and to the miracle of prayer he’s given us.

—Mike Nappa in The Courage to Be a Christian

My Response: When I pray, am I always aware that I’m “whispering directly into the ear of God”?

Thought to Apply: In prayer, it is better to have a heart without words, than words without a heart—John Bunyan (British writer & preacher)

Adapted from The Courage to Be a Christian (Howard, 2001)

Copyright © 2009 by the author or Christianity Today International/Men of Integrity magazine.

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