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Summary: Prayer is the primary way that God forms us into mature Christians.

Habits That Lead to Christian Maturity Lent 2002

Prayer

The goal in the Christian life is maturity.

Although we love little babies, we would be saddened greatly if they did not grow, learn, mature into fully functioning adults.

In the same way it is greatly exciting when someone first gives their lives to God through Jesus. We call them “babes in Christ,” “born anew,” “Reborn in the Spirit.” It is exciting, but we do not want anyone to stay as a baby. We want to see everyone mature in Christ.

Paul gets frustrated with the Christians in Corinth because they have stayed as infants. He says, “Brothers and sisters, I could not address you as spiritual but as worldly--mere infants in Christ. I gave you milk, not solid food, for you were not yet ready for it. Indeed, you are still not ready. You are still worldly. For since there is jealousy and quarreling among you, are you not worldly? Are you not acting like mere human beings?”

1 Corinthians 3:1-3

We attain physical maturity by eating right, and waiting – it is something that generally just happens to us

We attain social maturity by the choices that we make – we choose to take responsibility, we choose to live as a grown up – we all know people who may be physically mature, even old, but have not yet chosen to be mature socially.

We attain Spiritual maturity by allowing God to shape us into the people he wants us to be.

Isaiah 64:8

Yet, O Lord , you are our Father. We are the clay, you are the potter; we are all the work of your hand

Jeremiah 18

1 This is the word that came to Jeremiah from the Lord : 2 "Go down to the potter’s house, and there I will give you my message." 3 So I went down to the potter’s house, and I saw him working at the wheel. 4 But the pot he was shaping from the clay was marred in his hands; so the potter formed it into another pot, shaping it as seemed best to him.

5 Then the word of the Lord came to me: 6 "O house of Israel, can I not do with you as this potter does?" declares the Lord . "Like clay in the hand of the potter, so are you in my hand, O house of Israel.

In this series called “Habits That Lead to Christian Maturity,” we are talking about habits that God uses to form us – formative reading, formative prayer, formative fellowship, Formative worship & formative service. It is not that we are forming ourselves like a body-builder “sculpts” his body, no, we are instead allowing God to form us – it is he who we are desiring to sculpt us – to make us into the people he wants us to be. It is by these habits: formational reading, formational prayer, formational fellowship, formational worship, and formational service that we are placing ourselves on the potter’s wheel and saying to God – go ahead you make me what you want. I believe that this is most real in prayer.

Richard Foster, in his book “Celebration of Discipline” says “To pray is to change. Prayer in the central avenue God uses to transform us. If we are unwilling to change, we will abandon prayer as a noticeable characteristic of our lives. The closer we come to the heartbeat of God the more we see our need and the more we desire to be conformed to Christ….

…James says: ‘You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions’ (James 4:3). To ask ‘rightly’ involves transformed passions, total renewal. In prayer, real prayer, we begin to think God’s thoughts after Him: to desire the things He desires, to love the things He loves. Progressively we are taught to see things from His point of view.”

Prayer as Relationship

Bill Leslie pastor of La Salle St. Church in Chicago

- Evangelical, inner-city pastor, Church sponsored by Moody Church

- burnt out, goes to Catholic nun for counseling, says he feels like he is a pump, and everyone who comes by takes a turn at the handle, and the well has gone dry, its all been pumped away.

She tells him he is pumping of the surface: he has to dig the well deeper,

"Do you Know what you need? You need a personal relationship with Jesus Christ."

- Evangelicals can often put such a strong emphasis on conversion and theology that we forget about the relationship that we have been redeemed to.

Jeff & Judy

Jeff sees a picture of Judy, and says I’d really like to get to know that girl, his friend could have given him as many details about Judy as he possibly could, and then said, there: now you have a personal relationship with Judy Toman!

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