Prayer Thoughts, and Tips

Today I want to share a short post on prayer; a few things I’ve learned that have helped me grow closer with God. Here are a few suggestions in no particular order:

1)    Give God Space:  At one point in my life my relationship with God seemed to slide but I couldn’t discern why. It just seemed as if we weren’t close anymore. As I reflected, I realized that while I hadn’t done anything overt to distance myself from God, I didn’t give him any space in my life. I listened to my iPod in the shower. Listened to the radio in the car. Had music playing while working, and cleaned the house with the TV on. I was asking God to speak to me, but I realized I hadn’t given him any space to speak. My entire life was filled with noise, with stuff, with things happening. What I’ve started to realize is that for God to speak I have to leave space in my life and day for him. I need to give him my attention and that has changed our whole relationship.

2)    Pray in the Morning:   I really don’t believe there is one time in the day to pray, but I have found, for me, that prayer in the morning is crucial. Brother Andrew said, “If we do not actively seek God early in the morning, it will be very unlikely that we meet him later in the day.” I have simply found this to be true in my life. If I rush past God in the morning the chances of me slowing down in the day aren’t great. So even though I have a thousand other things I’d like to do in the morning, I know the most important thing is to connect with God.

3)    Pray all the Time, Not Just the Mornings: I know this sort of contradicts my last suggestion, but well…life is complex. Here is though what I noticed in my own life a few years ago. What I noticed was that I prayed to get it done, to get it over with, or to put in my time. I prayed in the morning so I could get on with the business at hand and forgot about God the rest of the day. It was as if being present for a moment in the morning was enough for the whole day. Now I know better. I need God all throughout the day. Now my morning prayer is often a prayer to help me discover where God is acting throughout the day. And this has made all the difference.

4)    Don’t Give Up:  Ready for a confession? Not every conversation I have with my wife is scintillating and life changing. But she has had a tremendous influence in my life and changed me in so many ways. I think something similar happens with God. Not every prayer time is amazing, deep, and energizing, but I know it does change me. The point is to not give up, and to keep in the rhythm of prayer. Prayer is often called a spiritual discipline and this is true. It does take some discipline. So now, when after I’ve prayed and I feel a little frustrated, I remind myself it’s not about how I feel but continually being in the relationship that brings about change. That’s true in my relationship with Krista and even more true in my relationship with God.

So I hope those help you. But what have you learned? What would you add?

Being Open With and Open To God

On Sunday we talked about prayer. We talked about how we are called to be first open with God about all that’s within us. We saw how both David and Jesus boldly go to God holding nothing back. They share deeply. They share doubts. They share their hurts, their emotions, and they share absolutely honestly.

The truth is God can handle our feelings, our hurts, questions and wonderings. So go to God openly and be open with him.

But the amazing thing is that Jesus and David don’t just leave it there. They aren’t just open with God, but are also open to God. They are open to God changing them, to using them, and open that God’s will might be different than their personal desires. Both David and Jesus have deep trust in the God who created light out of dark, that he can do that in their lives. God can create light out of the difficulty, pain, and hurt in their lives – but they are open to God’s will and desire. Jesus says, “But not my will by yours be done”.

Jesus is open with God, with his feelings and thoughts, but is also open to God’s will. This is what I believe is at the heart of prayer. Being open with God, but also open to God’s will and desire.

So today why not take a moment and share with God, boldly if need be, what it is you need, want, and desire. Share with him where you are at ~ trusting in him. But then be open to him. Be open to him changing you, shaping you, and that his will might be different. Because the goal of prayer is not to get our way, but to connect with God. So spend time sharing with God, but spend just as much time listening for his direction.

Pray being open with God, and open to God…