HOLY HABITS 4: Prayer

Reflecting on the characteristics of the early church as described in Acts 2:42

 ‘….They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, the breaking of bread and prayers.  Acts 2:42

 

‘Lord, teach us to pray, as John taught his disciples’ Luke 11:1

Prayer is one of the major themes of both Luke’s gospel and Acts and was one of the hallmarks of the first Christian communities. Spontaneous and set prayers both played a valuable part in living the adventure of discipleship.

Christian faith is not just about ideas or reading or talking about beliefs. Being a Christian is about having a deep personal relationship with God through Jesus, spending time with him and listening to him.

Friendship and fatherhood together teach us something about God and prayer. We are created and called into a relationship with our creator who loves us as a parent loves a child.

 

As with any relationship we need to spend time together to talk and listen to each other. That is what prayer is; a time of talking and listening to God. Without prayer the relationship would become dry. Prayer is the way we communicate with God.

 

Prayer in all its fullness and richness re-orientates and establishes us in a right relationship with God. Setting time aside with God helps a person to gain perspective on life. Today everyone is so busy and rushed it is easy to get caught up in the cares and worries of this life. Prayer provides time for us to try to see things the way God sees them, to endeavour to see the world through his eyes.

 

Jesus gave the Lord’s prayer to his disciples as a model for them (and us) to keep in mind as we pray. This is a prayer that grows out of the mission of Jesus himself and is ideally suited for us as it stands and as a framework for wider prayer.

 

We should praise God, pray for his work in the world, pray for our daily needs, and pray for help in our daily struggles. To what extent do you use the Lord’s Prayer to guide your own prayer times?

 

Jesus also teaches us to be persistent in our prayer requests in the story in Luke 11:1-13 about the persistent neighbour who asks to borrow some bread. He is encouraging a kind of holy boldness, a sharp knocking on the door, an insistent asking, a search that refuses to give up.

 

That’s what our prayer should be like. It is more than going through the motions of a daily or weekly task. Of all the holy habits, prayer is the one most at risk of becoming dry or difficult. Even the great saints and heroes of the faith have shared honestly how at times they too have struggled with prayer.

 

So, refreshing our approach to prayer with some variety is important in developing a healthy individual prayer life. whether you’re new to praying, or are confident in your walk with God, we can all benefit from ideas and inspiration from time to time.

Jesus prayed at different times of the day, and used the Psalms as his prayer book, often quoting from them. So, they can be an invaluable source of inspiration. As we pray the Psalms, we are returning to God words that he inspired for us to speak and sing to him. 

Here are some ideas for refreshing your prayer this month:

  1. Review the balance of your prayer life. Is it all a shopping list of requests or is there a healthy balance of adoration, confession, thanksgiving and intercession?

  2. Have you refreshed the way in which you pray recently? Try out some different ways of praying, maybe using some of the resources available to you.

  3. Try praying through a passage of Scripture, especially a Psalm using the language of Scripture and pray the ‘Lord’s Prayer’ each day.

  4. Join in the activities of the global week of prayer ‘Thy Kingdom Come’ between Ascension and Pentecost May 30th – June 9th including planned days of prayer in our church. (www.thykingdomcome.global)

Prayer - Paul Henderson
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  • Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving and Intercession

  • Use a Psalm as a springboard, and pray the ‘Lord’s Prayer’ each day.

  • Join in the activities of the global week of prayer ‘Thy Kingdom Come’ between Ascension and Pentecost May 30th – June 9th including planned days of prayer in our church. (www.thykingdomcome.global)

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