Saturday, January 16, 2010

Examining our attitude toward prayer

Good morning fiends. I trust you are still very much in prayer for the Haitians who spent the night sleeping on the streets again. Prayer will carry the day. There are very specific things that can be prayed for instead of just some general prayer thrown out there. Understand that there is a lot of relief material on the way but it can't all land. Pray for a miracle that they will figure out a way to land all those planes. As well, the people are desperate and human life has no value as they fight for survival. Pray the organizers will work well together to get the supplies distributed safely to everyone, that no one else will die needlessly.

These are two examples of prayers that can be offered up throughout the day because prayer does make the difference. The world does not and cannot understand but you can because you know Jesus. This is Kingdom work that is taking place in Haiti and Jesus told us that if we pray in relationship with him our Father will respond. Prayer is not just vital for Haiti but for everything in our lives. Paul wrote to Timothy:

I urge, then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone— for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. (1 Timothy 2:1-2)

Paul says "first of all", as if to say "this is our first action, our first order of business". Often we get it backwards, even in churches. The board will get together, have a symbolic opening prayer, discuss business, and then ask God to bless the plans. If should be a matter of praying until the plan is evident from God and then everyone agreeing on it. We often try to find our own solutions to things and when we can't we turn to prayer. It is a second thought, a last resort. But Paul says that it should actually be a routine that covers everyone in prayer, including government, "that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness".

There are many forms of prayer, as I have stated before. There is the "accident scene" prayer; that one time prayer in an emergency situation. There is the short-term covering prayer; when someone is off on a two week missions trip and you cover them every day in prayer. There is also the "forever" or "permanent" covering prayer; when you prayer for this person or ministry forever. This would include parents praying for their children, pastors for their people, people for their pastors, Christians for the many levels of government and other similar long-term relationships. Is your prayer routine structured to accommodate these types of commitments or are you more hit and miss, as the wind blows? We need to get serious about our routine of prayer which needs to be thought out as well as a physical fitness routine.

There is a reason Paul wrote "that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness". Perhaps you have not noticed but when you pray for someone your attitude changes toward them. Your heart softens and you begin to desire to bless them instead of curse them. This is why Jesus told us to pray for those who persecute us because prayer guards our heart against bitterness and hatred. It is impossible to be interceding for someone, asking for the grace of God for them, and then get up from your knees hating them. Paul's heart was clear on this matter:

I want men everywhere to lift up holy hands in prayer, without anger or disputing. v. 8

Some of you know that I have really been pushing hard for Christians everywhere to be be praying and supporting the situation in Haiti but it is not the only thing we should be praying about. If we do not have a routine for our prayers, if we are not keeping lists and using helpful tools, then one issue will undermine other important issues. We need to approach prayer with the same attitude as a general has going into battle. If we can capture this attitude then we may discover our prayers become more effective for the people who we are praying for. We will also discover a growing love for the people for whom we pray. Don't delay, examine your approach to prayer today. We have all been called to prayer. Pray hard and pray often!


Thyme2dream said...

Very good points here! I am working on learning to make myself slow down a bit and find/do what God is blessing through prayer~ rather than just asking God to bless what Im doing.

It is easy for the sheer magnitude of the need in Haiti to be overwhelming when one comes to prayer. When I start by praying in the spirit, quieting my mind and then waiting to hear what the Holy Spirit is wanting to pray through me, all the pieces just fall into place and prayer focus is much clearer.

Pastor Paul said...

Amen to that. If we are willing to be sensitive to the Spirit we discover he is our teacher and guide in all matters, including prayer. Blessings on your day.