What I’m aiming to bring to you today is a word on how to be in constant fellowship with the Father. You know, eternity doesn’t start when we die, it started when you first believed. The first day you entered into a relationship with God was the first day of eternity for you. We don’t have to wait until we’re face to face with God to know our Heavenly Father, we can know Him today. First I want to explore what prayer actually looks like, and then I’m going to talk more about the importance of being in constant relationship with the Father.
So, here is a slideshow that we’ll follow in exploring the biblical understanding of prayer.
We can all agree I’m sure that being On our knees is the most common during personal prayer time, but the other options are great too of course. It’d be interesting actually to see if anyone prays in any other position than what’s on here…? (Leave comments)
I remember reading a book once on the position we take in prayer. I thought it was the best thing I’d ever read, besides the Bible obviously. I guess it was like the majority of us with a C. S. Lewis book. I took everything the writer said as exactly right, but it turned out in the long run to be rather damaging.
It said of how praying should be done from a position we find most comfortable. Well of course I chose lying down…on my bed. Isn’t that where we are all most comfortable? At first I felt a big ‘Ahhhhh’ about it because I was definitely comfortable, but as time went on, I was definitely hindering my prayer life. I believe the more comfortable we become, the more prone we are to day-dreaming our way out of the prayer time we set out to have. In my opinion, there are no spiritual positives in lying down on your back to pray. Another lesson though to get from this is don’t take everything as Gospel even if the author of the book is highly acclaimed. Test everything is what we’re told scripturally, but I think we don’t do it often enough. That’s why I believe it’s important to bring your Bible to church with you – not so you can show everyone you read the ESV translation, but because you have the Word in your hands to test what’s being said.
I found this hard to understand when I first read it, because I used to think “well if it’s in my head, it’s in God’s ears already!” So I used to just say everything that sprung to mind. Some of it was appropriate because I’d remember people I wanted to pray for, but most of it was just irrelevant to anything and I was doing exactly what Jesus tells us not to; babbling. I guess it was hard for me to get my head around because I thought God was interested in every part of me, and still do think that. This scripture, if anything, has made me realise that God is the Lord of life and although it’s a true relationship I have with Him, I wouldn’t babble on to the Queen about nothing, so why should I think it’s okay to do so to God? I genuinely think it’s a spiritual discipline for us to learn – to address God correctly. Not to speak official lingo, because as we know it’s not about superior language or putting on a front with God, but about showing Him respect as our King whilst also having the relationship with Him as our Father. He doesn’t swap and change, He stays the same, it’s up to us to find the balance, not Him. I genuinely do think though that the balance will be found through doing it. Seek and you will find. Finding the Father yesterday isn’t the same as finding Him today. We can’t live off yesterday’s prayers, but we must stay constantly side by side with God. He feeds our hunger and our thirst, but half the time we’d much rather struggle on our own than get down on our knees. Perhaps there’s a metamorphosis in prayer? Only then, the transformation is constant. I don’t believe there’s a top-dog of prayer, but I believe there are Christian people who spend their lives journeying with God, and Christian people who spend their lives striving for things they won’t ever take hold of outside of fellowship with the King.
I remember my prayer time with God as a child – I would trade with Him. Did you ever do that? A bit of a rags for riches thing really; You give me everything and I’ll give you myself. I would say “God if you please let my Dad win the lottery, I’ll go to church every week. I promise. Amen.” I was going to say ‘the strange thing is…’ but it’s not very strange at all… I remember praying these prayers with such faith that God would do it. He never did, but His way of leading me to Himself wasn’t to be through finances, but through a much more spiritually refining time.
But if you stay joined to me and my words remain in you, you may ask any request you like, and it will be granted!
The reason we don’t see the working of God in our lives and in our Towns isn’t necessarily down to God’s unwillingness, but perhaps down to His people not remaining in union with Him. The Bible says we are sealed with the Holy Spirit, this is true, but the knowledge of the Holy Spirit’s presence in our lives doesn’t replace the conscious effort that we must make in order to have that unity God calls us into.
JESUS ASKS IT OF US
If Jesus is asking it of us, surely it’s something worth while? Prayer even keeps us from sinning! Who knew?!
I think the beauty of the second scripture there is that Jesus is sympathising with the human condition. He knows that we have troublesome times and suffer at the hand of injustice, so He teaches us that continuing to bring our pleas to the Father works only in our favour.
I find it hard to pray…
When we can’t find the words to say to the Father, we have the Holy Spirit as our Helper. He doesn’t speak in our place, only helps us. With His help we find what ought to be brought to the Father and He makes our groans of weakness effective before Him. How amazing and encouraging it is to know that when our human weaknesses surpass us, God still finds the desires of our hearts and reaches us where we are. However, weakness isn’t an alternative term for laziness.
THE LORD’s PRAYER
Then there is The Lord’s Prayer. Traditionally, people use this example of prayer as the only thing spoken to the Father. I feel sad thinking about that because there’s a whole lot more to the relationship we have with Him. However, there was a time not long since when I hit a really dry spot. The most noise I made was the groans of my weakness. But what caused my soul to re-surface was the speaking of The Lord’s Prayer. I made a commitment to speaking it out with a passionate heart every morning as I woke up and every night before I slept. I say passionately because when things are familiar to us, they almost lose their meaning. We say things over and over sometimes without even connecting with what we’re saying. But there is power in this prayer. It holds everything that we need to ask of God, and generally speaking, it lives as an example of what our personal prayers should contain. I love that Jesus was so good to us to leave with us the guidelines of prayer. So, if you ever feel like the title of this slide, like you’re ‘finding it hard to pray’, then I say turn to the pages where Jesus prays.
How did Jesus pray?
1) Jesus saw value in praying with and for others, but He also understood the need for alone time with the Father. Psalm 46:10 reads, “Be still, and know that I am God.” Jesus took the time away to do just this, to “be still” before God. In today’s busy culture the only way for us to do this is alone with God.
2) He could have gone to a home, a synagogue or if He were near Jerusalem, he could have gone to the temple to pray. But there were times when Jesus made the decision to pray where He was, which often happened to be in nature. We are surrounded by so much that is ‘man made’ that sometimes it’s difficult for us to remember that this is not our world, but God’s world, full of wonders for us to enjoy and “be still” in.
3) Jesus’ example of prayer given in the form of The Lord’s Prayer is relatively short and could on first glance give the impression that we aren’t to pray for very long. However, this is obviously not true, He went all night in the presence of the Father.
4) Jesus prayed regularly. Throughout the Gospels whenever we read of Jesus and prayer, it comes up regularly and naturally. It was simply a part of His worldview, integrated into every aspect of Christ’s life. Can we say the same about prayer in our own lives?
Before I continue, I want to quickly suggest a couple of books to you that will help steer your prayer life in the right direction. The first one is a book called Prayer; Finding the Heart’s True Home by Richard Foster. This is a fantastic book guiding you into a prayer life that starts where you’re at and helps you grow further towards a Christ-like relationship with the Father. Also helping you in your prayer ministry. The second is a book called With Christ in the School of Prayer by Andrew Murray. I found it to be a real eye opener; very bible-based and very prayerfully crafted. The book has 31 chapters. So basically a 31-day devotional.
In Richard Foster’s book he quotes a guy called Frank Laubach who says ‘Oh this thing of being in constant touch with God, of making Him the object of my thought and the companion of my conversation. It is the most amazing thing I ever ran across’.
I thought of an analogy whilst writing this, a silly one I admit, but it makes perfect sense.
Lets say you want to be the next Male Tennis Champion and Andy Murray said “Here’s my mobile number, call me any time and we’ll chat for as long as you like, it’s no trouble, I just want you to become the best you can be”. You would have an earpiece installed so that he was constantly there for you to learn from every time you set foot on the tennis court. Think then, as a Christian man or woman, how often do you walk out onto the battlefield? Daily is the answer. As we arise from our sleep each day, we are spiritually at war. Heck, getting up for me is a battle of it’s own sometimes! Our hearts need to be turned on to God, every minute of every day. Don’t let yourself down by denying yourself of that. You know, sin is dealt with – the battle is WON! Your life has already been bought by Christ and placed into God’s hands, but the enemy is relentlessly attempting to stop you from being with the Father, today.
Taking up a lifestyle of prayer means to activate your determination to commit. We either choose Christ as we rise in the morning, or we choose ourselves. God wants us to live in a life of constant communion with Him, but do we want to? I think if we’re all true believers, and all honest, then of course we want this. We would be mad not to! Though, the world is a mad busy place and full of crazy people that wind you up and bring you down. But I tell you what can make life more worth while – our Father! – who is in Heaven but through His Spirit allows us to commune with Him even now. The beauty of prayer is that our eternity can start today, not when we meet Him face to face.
Prayer is primarily the way of communicating with the Father to ask Him for the things we want for ourselves and for others, but prayer is more than this alone. God is prepared to give abundantly to us, not only things, but also Himself. For me, worship and prayer need to swap. Let worship be just that; worship – us loving on Him. Let prayer be the sharing of our desires with God and watch as He provides us with an outcome – it’s what His heart longs for. We cry out in worship ‘more of you Jesus – pour your love down Jesus’, but I genuinely believe that our time of worship is for us to pour over God; to shower Him with our praise for all He has done for us. Prayer however, is a time where the Father is waiting in that secret place for us to come and receive. He waits on His child to come in whatever state; cold hearted, broken hearted, dark hearted, because God knows that in His presence comes restoration. It isn’t about what we can say or do, but what God can (and does) give.
I tend to escape to that secret place through visualising Jesus sat in the room with me and allowing my imagination to paint a secret scene. The place I often visit is a place that only God and I go to, where I bring my tired heart to Him, where nobody can see or hear me except Him. There is a real silence. This place is a boat on the edge of the sea where I approach Him as He sits and waits for me, where there is no fear, but a liberty that remains hard to stand in light of anything else. Once you tap into your imagination, there are no barriers to where your prayer life can go. I’ve heard people say in the past that they don’t have an imagination; crazy talk! We all have one; we just need to activate it.
Another way I find that place of secrecy is by writing a journal and the fruits I have seen from this have been amazing. Journaling for me hasn’t been the idea of writing out prayers as such, but more of a diary form. I’d write to our Father telling Him all about my day; about what’s ticked me off and what’s built me up. Not only that, but share with Him the things I’ve learnt about Him across the day. It’s a great time of reflection as well as a place where I can share my dreams with God. Ya know, our Father loves us and longs to hear our big ideas, and I don’t know about you, but I hate that saying ‘If you want to make God laugh, show Him your plans’. It’s one of the most offensive comments I’ve ever heard flying around the church. It offends God. He is so interested in your plans! Otherwise, why would He want you to constantly be in fellowship with Him? What would we talk about if it wasn’t the contents of our hearts? Seriously, going back to what I said earlier, don’t listen to everything people say because it’s not always true.
When we spend our time constantly in the presence of God, His voice becomes so prominent. I remember a time not too long ago when I woke up to God’s voice teaching me about healing. I grabbed my notepad and just kept writing until I heard nothing more. It was such an awesome experience to have, because He didn’t speak to me normally, like during the day or whilst I was in a time of prayer; He actually woke me from my sleep. It was all I could think about that day. I walked to work that day praying that He would bring about an opportunity to use me for His glory.
As I arrived at work, God did use me. Not long after starting, a boy, sick with cancer, was wheeled in by his Dad and Brother. I ended up telling the boy and his family about Jesus and I prayed for him. Not long after, the boy died. The point being, I believe it was due to constant communion with The Father that I had the opportunity to share the Gospel with this young boy before he died. I thank God for that. I believe that the boy from that day is now in Heaven because I introduced him to Jesus. God has seemingly crazy ways of doing things, but if we’re in constant relationship with Him, we can have the pleasure of being His vessel to save a dying world.
Let the things of God fill your heart, to enable you to grow a fruitful and satisfying prayer life. If you strive to live a lifestyle of prayer to feel righteous, you won’t succeed. However, allowing yourself to live for God and His honour, by sacrificing your life to His kingdom and His glory, you will come to realise everything around you to be calling out for God. That’s when you can’t help but seek Him.