Summary: Part 4 of a series on having conversations with God, called Prayer!
Conversations with God - A prayer Lifestyle
May 1, 2016
For the past 3 weeks we’ve been looking at some very difficult conversations we have with God. We’ve looked at situations where God may say NO, times when God seems to be late or slow to respond, and times when God says you’ve completed your mission, well done! For the next few weeks I want to step back a little bit, and I want to take a look at what prayer is. I think we started with the advanced lessons, and now we’re stepping back to set more of the foundation.
With that in mind, I want to read from 1 Thessalonians 5. It’s one of Paul’s first letters. He’s coming to the end of the letter. He’s helped reassure the people of Thessalonica about many issues, especially their hope in Christ upon death. As Paul comes to the end of the letter, he writes ~
16 Rejoice always, 17 pray without ceasing, 18 give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.
19 Do not quench the Spirit. 20 Do not despise prophecies, 21 but test everything; hold fast what is good.
22 Abstain from every form of evil.
23 Now may the God of peace himself sanctify you completely, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.
24 He who calls you is faithful; he will surely do it.
As we continue our look at prayer, at our conversation with God, I want prayer to be more of a lifestyle, not something we do when we feel our backs are against the wall and we’re in deep trouble.
Paul commands us Pray without ceasing ~ 1 Thessalonians 5:17
He is calling us to pray with any interruptions. Pray with nothing left between, without any unnecessary interval or gap in time.
How do we do that? Some of us look at prayer like it was a call to exercise or workout. We don’t really like to do it, we find excuses, we busy ourselves with other things, then, when we finally do it, we are really glad we did. We feel better walking away . . . but it was such a struggle to get started.
But prayer is much more than exercising or working out. It's not just something you do occasionally, or even for a few minutes every day. We are called to pray, and the essence of what Paul is calling us to do is a 24 hour a day, 7 day a week conversation with God. It becomes built into our lifestyle.
So, today, we’re going to look at what it means to pray without ceasing, even in a busy lifesteyle.
Richard Foster wrote a book called Prayer: Finding the Heart's True Home. In the first chapter of this book he teaches what I believe is the most powerful principle or statement on prayer that I have ever learned. It’s really pretty amazing and it’s really pretty simple. It’s almost so simple, it’s ridiculous. I almost am ashamed to tell you. I wish I thought it. But I’ll stop delaying and tell you the most important principle about prayer you will ever hear! How’s that for a build up!!
Are you ready? Here it is:
We learn to pray by praying!
Isn’t that really simple!? All our lives we’ve been told we should pray. I grew up in the Temple and we were told to pray. We said lots of prayers and even prayed in Hebrew. When I became a Christian we had organized times of prayer in church. We learn the Lord’s prayer. We may pray before meals. We may pray before we go to sleep.
Add to that I have a number of books on prayer. Some modern books and some old books reminding me of the importance of prayer. I’ve attended seminars which talk about prayer. I’ve listened and read sermons about prayer.
But none of them have taught me how to pray until I actually do it myself, and learn about my style of prayer. I learned how to pray by praying.
Think about yourself - - - if you want to learn to do something . . . if you want to learn a sport or a musical instrument - - - you could watch all of the how to videos, you could talk to people who are experts. You could learn and learn and learn . . . you could talk all about it learning and the knowledge you have. You can almost be an expert on the subject. But, when someone says, ‘hey could you demonstrate what you’re talking about . . . you’d have no clue about what to do.