As a follow-up to the February 24, 2019 message Private Practices (Part 2) Prayer - Luke 10:38-42
Private, personal prayer with God will deepen your relationship with God. As it becomes more natural for you to talk with Him, you will find yourself talking with Him at other times during your day. More frequently you will be consciously aware of God presence with you.
Prayer takes time, energy, and practice. Set yourself some reasonable goals and stick with it.
HERE ARE SOME IDEAS IF YOU WANT TO DEEPEN YOUR PRAYER RELATIONSHIP WITH GOD
It is important to create a prayer environment that is completely free from external distractions. Sometimes it may be best to turn off the lights in your “prayer closet” and sit in the dark.
Schedule personal prayer at a time of the day or week when you will have energy to focus. It is hard to have a meaningful conversation with the Lord when you are physically and emotionally tired. However, once you have established a prayer relationship with God, it can be very natural and effective to spend time with Him when you are extremely tired, frustrated, or overwhelmed. In these moments His presence and truth will provide you with the godly perspectives and hope that you need.
When talking with the Lord, it is often hard at first to stay focused. The same routine may not always work for you. It is ok to try different things. During my personal prayer times, I usually have a pen with me so that I can update my prayer lists while I am praying and write down dates when prayers have been answered. Often while praying, God prompts me of actions that I need to take, so I write these down so that I won’t forget.
When you pray, be specific. For example, don’t simply pray “God, be with my children today”. Instead, pray for each of your children by name. Pray for the specific things that they will likely face during their day and pray that they will honor God with their actions and attitudes. Make it real, because God is concerned about the “mundane.”
Use a prayer journal or notebook to keep track of prayers. Janell and I both generally pray from lists, while Janell also enjoys writing out the prayers which she prays regularly. Prayer is a conversation, so however you organize your prayer time, don’t let it become over-structured and mechanical.
As your prayer list (and life) grows, you will discover that it could take hours to pray through your entire list. At this point, just get creative. Pray for certain things on certain days of the week. Or just start in the front of your prayer journal and pray for as much as you can as time allows. Eventually you will get to the end of your journal and you can start back at the beginning. The goal is not to get through your list, it’s to share your heart and life with the Lord.
“If prayer doesn’t come easy for you, consider yourself normal, fallen and sinful with the rest of us. Then fight” – John Piper
IF PRAYER IS SOMETHING NEW FOR YOU, HERE’S A WAY YOU COULD BEGIN
1. Get a notebook and set aside a few minutes to make your own prayer list. This is for
your personal use, so organize it however you wish. I’ve listed some ideas below.
2. Look at your calendar and determine when you can set
aside approximately 30 minutes this week to spend in
prayer with God.
3. Find your “prayer closet.” Decide where you will pray. It
should be free from all distractions.
4. When it’s time to pray, get your prayer list, go to your
“prayer closet,” and pray. Make it a priority in your
SUGGESTED TOPICS TO HAVE IN YOUR PRAYER LIST
• Confession – listen to God’s Spirit, confess and seek forgiveness from God, commit to seek
forgiveness from any person who may have also been offended
• Elders, Deacons, ministry leaders at EBC, 1 Timothy 3 and Titus 1 could be used to guide your
• Give God thanks for people, places, and experiences that he used to bring you to Christ and that
he has used or is currently using in your spiritual growth.
• Local, state, and national leaders and issues; military, first responders, schools, churches; there
is so much to be thankful for and to pray for in each of these areas. May God’s will be done.
• Make a list of God’s names, characteristics, and attributes (for example: Father, Shepherd,
Refuge, Lord, Holy, etc.), as you study the Bible this list will grow. As you pray, talk to God about
the words on this list that you are especially thankful for at that moment.
• Pray for and thank God for the members of EBC, people in your small group, people you sit near
at church or who you regularly interact with at EBC
• Missionaries - use their prayer letters or photos; God may even prompt you to send one of the
missionaries a gift, note, or email.
• Pray for your family - yourself, spouse, children, and parents.
• Pray with scripture – pray through a Psalm or read through an epistle and look for things that
should characterize God’s people and the church. Pray that these things will be true for
yourself, our church, and for the people you love. Pray through what you have been learning
from recent sermons and from your personal Bible study. Pray through the Lord’s Prayer,
making each line personal to you.
• Tell God how you feel. Talk to him about your fears. Thank Him for the things that bring you
the greatest joy.
• Pray for the salvation of unbelievers in your neighborhood, at work, at school, and in your
family; ask God to show you how you can be used as a witness; ask God for forgiveness if you
have recently acted cowardly and have been ashamed to talk to someone about your
relationship with Christ
• Use the EBC Prayer List that is distributed by email
“The world’s most tremendous and awesome experience – an encounter with the majestic God whose being fills His universe! – AW Tozer
Here are some of the books that have impacted Janell’s prayer life
• Fervent: A Woman's Battle Plan to Serious, Specific and Strategic Prayer by Priscilla Shirer
• The Battle Plan for Prayer: From Basic Training to Targeted Strategies by Stephen Kendrick
• The Power of a Praying Grandparent Book of Prayers by Stormie Omartian (this author has
written many excellent books on prayer)
• Praying God's Word: Breaking Free from Spiritual Strongholds by Beth Moore
So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’
For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them.
But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.
“A love relationship with God is more important than any other single factor in your life.
Everything in your Christian life, everything about knowing Him and experiencing Him,
everything about knowing His will depends on the quality of your love relationship with
God. If that is not settled, nothing in your life will be right. Your walk with the Lord is the
single most important aspect of your life. If it is not as it should be, nothing else will
function properly. So make sure you are investing your life, your time, your resources in
things that will last, not in things that will pass away.
You must recognize that God created you for eternity, or you will invest in the wrong priorities.” – Henry Blackaby
No, this is not the title of a Chronicles of Narnia book, but the three descriptors that Peter calls his audience in 1 Peter 2:1-10. Each one will shed light on a different aspect of a Christ follower, yet they fit together very nicely.
Like newborn infants, long for the pure spiritual milk, that by it you may grow up into salvation—if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is good. 1 Peter 2:2-3
First, to clarify what Peter is saying, he is not calling the readers new Christians necessarily, like he did in 1 Corinthians 3. Rather mimic what babies do and crave which gives them sustenance. Our spiritual milk is the Word of the Lord. Instead of pursuing malice, deceit, hypocrisy, envy and slander (v.1) pursue the Word. To “long for" is a strong expression that we could paraphrase "develop an appetite for.” The outcome for our perusal of God’s Word is our salvation. Salvation here, as Peter used previously, refers to the full extent of salvation that God desires every Christian to experience.
As you come to him, a living stone rejected by men but in the sight of God chosen and precious, you yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. 1 Peter 2:4-5
God is not only the source of sustenance, but also becomes our foundation. He is the living stone, the corner stone that we are being built upon. I am amazed that this passage tells us we are like Christ in the fact that we are also living stones. We have been baptized into Christ, and we share in the inheritance of Christ as children of God. However, there is a great distinction in that Christ is the cornerstone that we are being built upon. This passage pictures a house being built by each new believer who become living stones. Each Christian is an essential part of the body and mission of Christ.
A Choose Race
But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. Once you were not a people, but now you are God's people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy. 1 Peter 2:9-10
God’s chosen race in the Old Testament was the nation of Israel. The mark that Israel was God’s chosen race was the fact that He dwelt among them (Ex. 19:5). He did this in the tabernacle and the temple, until the abandonment of the Israelites made this intimacy impossible. Then the presence of God departed from His people (Ezk. 10). Now, in the church, God does not dwell among us, but resides inside of us (John 14:17; Rom. 8:9). This is the mark that we are his chosen people. As His chosen people, we carry out His mission by being lights that shine on those who still are in Spiritual darkness.
As Christians we are babies, stones, and a chosen race. These are not merely descriptors, but qualifiers. We are to seek the Word of God as our daily nourishment in order to come together as the the church is supposed to be, one unified vessel, so that we may accomplish the work of Christ. Peter here is continuing to clarify our identity and mission as follower of Christ.