Wednesday, April 02, 2014

Growing Spiritually: Regular Times of Prayer

The first way we can be growing spiritually this year is by committing ourselves to a life of prayer.  As I look back on the summer of 2009, one of the main things I neglected in my spiritual growth was a regular time of prayer.  I’ve always loved what David wrote in Psalm 5:3 "In the morning, LORD, you hear my voice; in the morning I lay my requests before you and wait expectantly."  You may be able to relate to David, you currently have a time of regular pray where you connect with God.  My prayer life was far from what David wrote here, in fact it looked more like Vince Vaughn in a scene from The Dilemma.

We neglect time with God, we get busy and our prayer life becomes scattered.  Now I understand everyone of us is at a different place in our spiritual walk and I want to be sensitive to that.  I’m going to do my best to address all the different spiritual walks represented.  Some of you can totally relate to Vince Vaughn from the movie The Dilemma where he has no clue how to approach God in prayer.  Next, there are those of you who have recently given your life to Christ.  You haven’t been following Christ for long and you’re not sure what a regular time of prayer would look like in your life.  Maybe when you think of prayer you naturally go back to your childhood where you were taught to recite The Lord’s Prayer.  Finally we come to those of you who’ve been following Christ for a long time.  You have gone through wonderful times where you’ve spent regular time with God and encountered times where you’ve struggled to figure out how to connect with God.

Its easy to talk about regular times of prayer when you’re sitting in a church service, it can be more difficult to implement regular times of prayer in our daily life.  While reading Psalm 5:3 you saw “the morning” and immediately started thinking of twenty-seven reasons you could never wake up in the morning to pray, before you stop reading, check this out.  The coolest part about this verse is that before David even opens his mouth God has already heard his request.  Don’t get hung up on the morning part; you may be a night person and the night time might work best for a regular time of prayer.  If you look back to the end of Psalm 4 in your Bible you’ll actually see David make mention of night time.

I like to think about prayer like spiritual food.  Most of us eat three meals a day to keep our body sustained, but are we caring for our soul three times a day?  The great thing about prayer is we can always return to God throughout the day and it doesn’t have to be hour blocks in the morning, it may look like text messages with God throughout the day (read Refuel by Doug Fields).  It could be a quick prayer after lunch or on the drive home to refresh your soul once again.  What it comes down to is you finding what works for you.  The main thing is to make sure your regular time of prayer isn’t motivated by guilt, but a love for the Father.  It can become very easy to turn Christianity into legalism; a self-imposed check list used to validate ourselves based on what we do or what we don’t do.

You can probably think about more than enough to pray about but just in case you need some help to get your regular prayer time going start with the list of things you’ve been worrying about lately.  Paul wrote to the church at Philippi and encouraged them to “Not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.” (Phil 4:6).  So instead of worrying about how you’re going to send your kids to college pray for God to provide.  If you’re having a hard time in school ask God to help you out.  If you’re marriage is struggling ask God to help you love your spouse.  If you don’t have a spouse, and you’d like one, ask God if this is His will for your life.  If you’re struggling with your work situation pray for God to give you contentment and show you how to serve your boss... or ask for a new job.  The list could go on and on.

What would you add to regular times of prayer?

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