Saturday, February 25, 2012

Week Two

The Discipline ofPrayer

This week as I began to research the act of prayer I found many good nuggets of knowledge from men who've lived it. There is so much on the topic of prayer that it'd be impossible to share it all, but I'll do my best to sum it up and leave the rest up to you to discover! I just want to thank God for the places He's led me to this week in books, in the word, and revelations in my own prayer time.

I agree whole-heartedly with Richard Foster when he says, "God always meets us where we are and slowly moves us along into deeper things." Over time as we prepare, train, seek, and listen we will pray with even more authority than present day. (When I saw "authority" I hope you understand that I don't mean authority over God, but authority WITH God against the powers of darkness). Foster also professes that prayer ushers us into the perpetual communion with the Father and it is both LIFE-CREATING and LIFE-CHANGING.

I truly believe that if you don't see the importance or value in prayer
then there will be little power in your words, very little authority in the spiritual realm, and no confidence in a mighty God who desires to do so much in and through you!!! Prayer really can move mountains but truth is... most Christians are not even sure they believe this so their efforts are weak and sporadic. There is still another camp of believers that I've heard say, "Well... He's gonna do what He wants anyway, so what's the point?"

Before we move any further I challenge you to think for a second how you REALLY feel on the subject of prayer. Write out some of your concer
ns, disappointments, and frustrations. Perhaps you've assumed things about prayer and how God works? Or have been told something that just wasn't biblical? I have no clue where you are at in this journey... but what I do know is that there is definitely POWER in praying God's will for your life, your family, the government, the lost, the suffering, and the sick. I also know that it's a conversation with a God who desires to have an intimate relationship with you. And don't forget about the unseen battles that go on daily we are responsible to stand firm in as we hold onto His promises and truth. Victory in the kingdom
and in your heart is what He's longing for...

So... what exactly is prayer? Well as Graham Cooke puts it, "Prayer, in its simplest form, is finding out what God wants to do and then asking Him to do it."

Why? Why is prayer so important? "In prayer, real prayer, we begin to think God's thoughts after him: to desire the things he desires, to love t
he things he loves, to will the things he wills. We are being taught to see things from his point of view." Richard Foster

When we pray we are dwelling in the most high... and resting in His shadow (Ps. 91:1) We are actually tapping into a source of communication that no one else on earth can possibly accomplish without a relationship with the Father. The fact that there are some out there who have accepted Christ into their lives but don't desire to take advantage of this incredible form of communication with the Creator of the universe i
s mind-boggling to me! We actually have the ability to enter into an ongoing conversation with the trinity and find out how to pray in God's will!! FASCINATING!

What happens when we pray? "He will teach us to look beyond the natural into the supernatural realm and see the Kingdom of Heaven at work in every need. It will no longer matter what life, people, or even the enemy throw at us, because we will be able to hear the conversation in Heaven and understand that Go
d is at work all around us." Graham Cooke

How do we pray? "We must hear, know, and obey the will of God before we pray it into the lives of others," Foster. Jesus tells us to come to Him as children... Openness, honesty, and trust are evidence of our communication as children to our Father.

We must first find stillness. This is why it was so
valuable that they started with meditation in the spiritual disciplines. "Rest is our best weapon against the enemy, because rest allows us to hide in our secret place in God, " says Cooke. "... and without stillness, our experience with God is limited." Truth is, the enemy hates you but would never chase you into the holy of holies because he knows what fate awaits him there. Just like the word teaches in Psalm 100 we must enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise, THAT is where a true prayer life begins...

In YWAM we used a method of praying that basical
ly led us into intercession using the basis of that prayer. I know God can speak to us any where and in any way He wishes... but I also know that there can be things that hinder our ears from hearing. These are biblical things I found that help align my body, mind and spirit with His will for me and others I'm lifting up to Him. Perhaps they will be applicable to your prayer life as well.

1- Praise and thanks to God (Ps 100:4) 2- Confess sins and walk in forgiveness (Ps 24:3) 3- Silence the voice of the enemy (James 4:7) 4- Silence yo
ur own thoughts (2 Cor. 10:5) 5- Ask the Holy Spirit to come and speak to you (Jn 16:13) 6- Wait in silent expectation (1 Kings 19:12) and 7- Pray/act in faith of what God reveals to you (1 Jn 5:14).

For years I had no clue what it meant to pray like Jesu
s, the apostles, some of the spiritual giants of the bible or of our own time. To be honest it's a journey of discovering more of God's deep mysteries that I'll be on till I meet Him, but it's a journey worth seeking for sure. I'd like to share a little bit of my story to encourage you wherever you are and to challenge you to always be hungry for more of Him. When you are... you'll be less satisfied with the world and more excited about seeing His will on earth come to life. Then you'll experience the blessing of being a part of it!!!

My eyes were finally opened to a whole new life of prayer and intimacy about 5 years ago. All I know is that I was desiring to know God more and willing to do whatever it took to become closer to Him and His heart for me and the world. I put my life "on hold" for 6 months for ywam... only to find out that it had been "on hold" for 27 years and I was just waking up for the very first time. Ywam was just a tool God u
sed in my life to allow me to be away from distractions and clearly hear His voice... and man, I am so glad He did.

We prayed so much as a corporate body that I almost got sick of it at first. God was training my prayer muscles during this time... even though I hadn't quite come to the full revelation of prayer yet and it's worth in the kingdom. Somewhere along the way I stumbled upon "prayer languages". To be honest, at first I thought it was pretty strange. I had been told so many things growing up about this and found it hard to believe in its importance. I remember asking God that if it was a gift He desired for me than I wa
nted to receive it. A few days later we were walking around a church praying over the pews for revival. I walked up to the cross in the front of the auditorium, knelt down... and something broke in me. All of the sudden I started praying in this language I did not know, but there was this beautiful interpretation in my head that was undoubtedly the heart of God. I realized that I was actually tapping into that heavenly conversation in that moment at the throne of God and praying in His will. WOW!!!!! Seriously, so cool!!!!

Since that moment Papa has shown my all sorts of things through prayer and it's now such an exciting part of my life and connection with Him. I'
ve found that instead of just telling someone I'll pray for them later I usually pray for them right then.... whether it's on the phone, in the grocery store, mall, on a busy street, or in a cafe. Whatever! The power and love these people feel is instant... straight from the Father to them.

I also find that when I pray for people I usually get a picture, confirming word, song, or scripture for them. Recently this has been happening a lot and it's amazing to see the receiver accept it and rejoice because of the personal love and confirmation God has delivered to them. A lot of times if I don't have anything specific to pray about God will bring it up during that time of meditation and petitioning. The key is to trust it is really Him who is speaking to you and not the enemy or yourself. If you prayed through those steps mentioned above you can rest in the fact He knows what He's doing... just m
ake sure it aligns with the word of God.

I find it so important now to realize that our battles are spiritual, but to spend less time intimidated by the enemy and more time fascinated with Christ. When we praise and worship Him in this place, walls in the spiritual WILL come down and we'll begin to see victory in the physical. Everything that comes into existence is something He already spoke. God wants to partner with us in bringing His very glory to earth. What He wants of us is to find these things hidden in His heart and with our faith in action bring the promises alive that move the answer (He already created) from the unseen to the seen. He really just wants to make visible what He's done and He wants us to receive the bl
essing of being a part of that. Man, He freakin loves us so much!!! I can hardly fathom it sometimes!!! Now when I read The Lord's Prayer in Matthew 6 it really comes alive!

Bill Johnson, a pastor's sermons I frequently listen to, said..."God didn't leave us just so He could come back and rescue us, how else do w
e think His glory will cover the earth?" Basically He strongly believes, as do i, that we are not a factory that makes glory ourselves by any means... but we are definitely a vessel in which that glory flows through. Every prayer, every miracle, every salvation is a burst of God's glory on this earth that will continue to spread until His return.

I'm gonna end this with a story Bill mentioned that really hit home with me. It goes... A man was talking to his daughter about anchors of ships one day. He asked her how big of one you'd need for a boat that fits in a tub. She replied with her fingers slightly spread apart, "about this big". Then he asked her how big of an anchor yo
u would need for a boat that fit into a swimming pool. Her arms spread wide as she answered, "about thiiiiiiiis big". Then he asked how big of an anchor you would need for a ship in the ocean... and her arms could not reach wide enough nor could her brain barely fathom it. Then he said... "honey, God is promoting you to deeper waters, this means you need a bigger anchor...that anchor is PRAYER."

The life of the Apostle Andrew

"Accept me, O Christ Jesus, whom I saw, whom I love, and in whom I am; accept my spirit in peace in your eternal realm." According some historians, this was the last thing Andrew said after being tied to a cross tightly for three days in Greece for preaching the Gospel.
(This is a picture I took in Israel with a statue made to honor the disciples of Christ in the foreground and the Sea of Galilee, in all of its splendor, in the background. I'm amazed at how much the bible comes alive when you are standing on the very banks they walked and talked with Jesus on... )

Andrew and his brother Peter were both fisherman on the Sea of Galilee. Last time I was there visiting I went to a place right on the shore that had recently found pieces of one of the fishing boats from around that time they presume. I stood in this room for a long time looking up and down the boat trying to imagine what life was like for these disciples and the moment when everything changed for them. I have to say I got pretty emotional standing before this physical representation of the spiritual calling that Christ has on all of our lives. First, they encountered this man... Second, they watched Him and listened. And third... they came to know and love this person named Jesus so much that when He called them they were ready. These men put down their nets, abandoned all they knew and followed Him.

I also couldn't believe in that moment that I was standing so close to a boat that Jesus himself might have been on. Who even knows if this was the actual boat Peter walked out of to meet him, or the one Jesus was sleeping on before He calmed the storm!?! With all of that said... when Jesus called, Andrew was the first to respond and follow. It's said that Peter, his brother, was a fisher of men for the masses... but that Andrew was a fisher of men for individuals: emphasizing the significance in both.

It's pretty amazing to me that Andrew traveled as far as Russia, Turkey and Greece to share the good news of Christ even to the point of death. No matter how much pain He was feeling by the third day of hanging there on the cross, its said that Andrew was still professing the love of Christ to all who would listen. My desire is that I would have the same courage, strength, passion and stamina that Andrew had. We can learn so much from this one man's life.

Training for half marathon

This week I'm learning perseverance as I cross over the 3 mile mark. Everything in me wants to succumb to the lie that I'll never be able to do this or I may hurt my body in process. But every single time God gives me that extra boost of faith I need to make it through that run. I still find it hard getting excited for a long run, but I'm gradually getting there!

Tying in all together: "Occasional joggers do not suddenly enter an Olympic marathon. They prepare and train themselves over a period of time, and so should we in prayer. When such a progression is followed, we can expect to pray a year from now with greater authority and spiritual success than at present." Richard Foster

I realize that if I keep running I will build up the muscles I need to run the long race ahead... and see more and more victory in the arena's God will place me in. He wants to do the same for all of us. He knows what we can handle, but He wants us hungry for more. The more we are, the more He'll train us in those areas and the more we'll be prepared for... so we will not be injured along the way or have to quit the race. We are warriors of Christ and He's called us to be fishers of men... He desires for us to hand over our mind, body, soul and spirit so He can nourish us and build up our strength so we are fit to serve Him at full capacity and enjoy every minute of it- thriving instead of simply surviving. That's what makes us different and only He can do that in us!

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