Welcome to Day 2 of the Spiritual Disciplines Challenge!
How did Day 1 go?
Day 2: Prayer
I’m very excited about today’s discipline, Prayer. My excitement comes because this is one of those aspects of our spiritual life that can either flourish or feel like we’re just going through the motions. I’ve often envied those people who are known as “prayer warriors” because prayer seems so easy and fruitful for them. It hasn’t always been so for me.
But prayer can be learned and we can develop our prayer life to a place of greater maturity and deeper intimacy with God. We can develop patterns and techniques that show us new things about God and ourselves as well as giving us a new perspective on the role of God in the world around us. Ready to dive in?
Are you a prayer optimist or a prayer pessimist? Do you pray out of obligation and social pressure or do you see prayer as an opportunity to see the grace and mercy of God? It can be difficult to be honest about how we approach prayer. A dull prayer life is one of those secret and oh-so-common discouragements in our walk with God.
Why? If prayer is so important why does it sometimes feel like slogging through spiritual mud? Maybe it’s because we pray but don’t ever feel closer to God. Maybe we don’t feel like anything will actually happen if we pray. Maybe we don’t pray except in a crisis and forget about God in our everyday self-sufficiency.
But…what if every 60 seconds one of our prayers were answered? What if we felt close to God every time we prayed? What if…what if?
What if we stopped looking at prayer as a drive thru and started looking at it as a way to connect with God. What if we listened just as much as we spoke? What if we could start seeing prayer as a way of participating in what God is already doing in our world?
Maybe it’s our mindset about prayer that needs to change. Prayer is always and ever an opportunity to spend time with the Holy God of the universe. To listen and be listened to by the one who loves us more than we could ever imagine. It’s a place of absolute freedom, where we don’t have to be anything other than who we are. All our frustrations, triumphs, hopes and dreams laid bare before him in a safe and loving place. Where else in our lives to we have this opportunity?
So how do we start to have this kind of prayer life that is intentional and vibrant, hopeful and purposeful? It starts with being intentional, as so many things do. Setting apart time to be with God and making it an unbreakable priority. Because those things in our lives, our to do lists, are only manageable if God is at the head and focus of it all. And this season more than most, with the joys and tensions, we need that time spent with God.
Choose at least 2 of the 3 kinds of prayer talked about below and practice the challenges.
Let me know how it goes!
Prayer type #1: Meditative Prayer
“For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.”
Choose a passage of Scripture, your choice. Maybe it’s something from your reading or a verse that is meaningful to you.
Meditate on it, asking yourself the following questions
What does this tell me about God?
What does this tell me about how God thinks of me?
What does this say about how God views the world and what he cares about?
Transition into Prayer. Tell God what you’ve learned. Tell him what you think about it.
Is this new or the reminder of something that you’ve known for a long time?
How does this resonate with your soul?
What do you think God has to say to you in this passage?
End by thanking God for the illumination and presence of the Holy Spirit.
Prayer type #2: Intercessory Prayer
“…The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.” James 5:16b
This is the prayer that I associate, right or wrong, with the prayer warriors in my life.
What cause or injustice are you passionate about? Where would you like to see change in the world?
Spend time meditating on this topic. Listen intently for where God’s heart is on this issue. Does what you’re hearing align with what the Bible says?
Take this issue before God in Prayer. Intercede for people who cannot intercede for themselves. Take it before the Throne of God with the assurance that God hears the cries of his people and seeks the restoration of our world.
Prayer type #3: Flash Prayer
“Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances;
for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18
This one is fun and strangely addictive.
Flash prayers are short 5-10 second prayers that you pray for people you encounter during the course of your day.
At work, or any of your daily activities, take 10 minutes-1/2 hour and as you go about your daily business, flash pray for any people you encounter.
Imagine Jesus walking through your day with you. What would he wish for the people you meet?
If you know them and know some of their struggles, pray for those.
If you do not know them, Pray that God’s presence will be abundant to them.
Pray that if they do not know God that he will make himself known to them, through you and others.
Pray that they will feel the Joy of the Lord