Thursday, June 24, 2010

A few questions....

Why are so many Christians defeated or discouraged?
..............because they pray so little

Why are so few churches on fire for God?
............because there is so little REAL prayer

What is the least attended meeting in most churches?
............the prayer meeting

Why do so many churches no longer have a prayer meeting?
..........because a great majority of the people never come near it

Final question.......

Why don't we pray more?

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

I think I heard a Gong...

When I first read that opening paragraph about people in China throwing mud covered balls of paper full of prayer requests at some lifeless statue, I was sadden.  This was their attempt at a prayer life?  to a dead god? And yet later it struck me that too many times I had approached my living God almost in the same way.  And again I was sadden.  I had a living God and yet I was NOT entering into a vibrant, living relationship with Him- one like He desired.  He had pursued me and at times all I did was come to Him with a list of wants. Those wants were often prayers of intercessions - wanting healing for others or things on others behalf-- but still, they were a list of wants.  GONG.  I was missing it.

But God....

He was pursuing me (yet again) and restoring my prayer time with Him.

And He did it in the most interesting way.

God reminded me of my "falling in love" process with my dear husband (with whom I just celebrated 23 years of marriage but that is for another post!)  Anyway, God reminded me of when Craig and I first met and how we couldn't wait to spend time together, to talk and share what had happened that day or what God had been teaching us.  We would anticipate being together and how a smile or a simple encouraging word would make all the other discouraging things around us look good.  God showed me how our relationship grew to the point that we could just look at each other and, through that look, communicate a thousand words.  God took me back some 25+ years to remember how my heart would flutter when Craig would round the corner and I would get my first glimpse at him (and just for the record - it still does that, esp. when he has been gone for a few days!)  We simply wanted to be together and we adored each other.  We still do.

After strolling through memory lane, I sensed the Lord saying to me "yeah..."  To which I responded with and "okay, Lord, you gave me a great guy and I am so thankful!"  And I yet sensed the Lord saying "umm, yeah, but...."  and in my head I recalled the rebuke to the church in Revelation 2:4....

"But I have this against you, that you have abandoned the love you had at first."

Ding! Ding!  The light bulb lights and I get it. The Lord wants my affections for Him to be like my affections were when I first met Him some 36+ years ago.  He wants me to want to want to hang out with Him, to be with Him, to adore Him, to be in love with Him again.  I don't know if I can communicate this in words on a is so much more than just simply saying "I love you, Lord."  It is being caught up in Him and in WHO He is and in adoration of Him. 

Then the challenge came.  I was challenged to spend time in prayer where I only focused on praise and adoration of the Lord.  No intercession for myself or others.  Okay...I thought I can do this because I have been taught and have taught my kids the ACTS method of praying (Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving, Supplication).  I am conditioned to praying by praising the Lord first.  But God quickly showed me He meant LONG periods of time of praise and adoration.   He meant days where all I would focus on would be times of praise and adoration of WHO He is and WHAT He has done and is doing.  

I am not going to share yet what He showed me by doing this....but I want to encourage you to do it.  To spend time focused only on praise and adoration of the Lord.  It may take the shape of reading some Psalms, singing some praise music, or just quietly walking throughout your day with an intentional focus on praising the Lord.  See what happens..............

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Mud Ball Prayers

"A traveler in China visited a heathen temple on a great feast day.  Many worshippers of the hideous idol were in its sacred shrine.  The visitor noticed that most of the devotees brought with them small pieces of paper on which prayers had been written or printed.  These they would wrap up in little balls of stiff mud and fling at the idol.  He asked the reason for this strange proceeding, and was told that if the mud ball stuck fast to the idol, then the prayer would assuredly be answered; but if the mud fell off, the prayer was rejected by the god."   (from The Kneeling Christian, p.5)

You may immediately be thankful that our God does not required us to throw mud balls or spit balls at some idol to test the acceptability or validity of our prayers.  Could you imagine what our churches would look like?

But don't we often struggle with the desire to have tangible evidence for our prayers --either to know that they are heard or that they have been acceptable or that we are entering into the Lord's presence with the proper motive and intentions.  Wouldn't it be nice to have an audible "ding" to know that what you have just prayed was ok and it has been "sent and received"?  Or maybe a "gong" when you prayed with some unconfessed sin in your heart (maybe you weren't even aware of it) and you need to get right with God first before you prayed?  Of course, if we were praying in a group, we would want to be sure that those sounds could only be heard by us.  How embarrassing if you were the one saying grace and were "gonged"?? Uhhh.....there might be a lot less praying if God "gonged" us.

Stop and think about this for just a moment, though.  How many times have we prayed out of a routine or habit or a mode of "check the box, that is done for today"?  Or prayed with our list and it sounded something like this "give me this, I want that, bless me Lord I pray".  Or we go to the Lord with our "shopping list prayers" know what that looks like - it is a list of things that we need, want, desire and we may have things for others on that list but it is truly a shopping list of things that we want God to do or provide for us.  We have totally missed the mark of coming to God out of a relationship with Him. how do our prayers differ from the worshippers in China who were throwing mudballs at their god?