Summary: The final message from the series of Breaking Free looks at prayer and how we must break free from the misconception that prayer is only for Sundays, a meal or when we need help.
Part 3: Priority of Prayer
Pastor Ryan Akers
3rd and final message of Breaking Free today. We’ve been looking at the misconceptions about the church. Week 1 was titled a people with purpose. The church is not an organization but rather a people with a purpose to love God, love people. Last week was called parents with passion. It was a challenge for the parents, grandparents and empty nesters to break free of the misconception that the church should be the primary vehicle for our children’s spiritual growth rather than parents investing in their kids spiritual lives by living out the faith the church is trying to teach their kids how to have. If you’ve missed any of these messages you can download them online at our church website www.sandlakechurch.org.
The final message today is about prayer and breaking free of the misconception that the practice of prayer is only for Sundays, before meals, or when we desperately need help. Now I want to start with a confession to you that will either shock you or it may make you feel relieved. I have always had a terrible prayer life. Prayer is not something I have ever been good at being consistent with. And I’m willing to bet there are many of you who could relate to this struggle of taking a deliberate set amount of time for prayer. Some people are truly gifted to be prayer warriors and can pray for hours. For them the practice of prayer is the highlight of their day. For me it has been a constant struggle that has left me feeling guilty for not doing it enough and feeling like a failure for not setting an example to my family and the churches I have led. For years I tried to discipline myself to do what I thought I was supposed to do. Wake up at 5:00am read the bible and pray like any good Christian does. The alarm would go off and before I knew it I had hit the snooze button 10 times and it would now be time to go to school or work. I learned quickly that although I consider myself a morning person waking up to have devotions and prayer is incredibly difficult and it felt like work to me rather than something I could take joy in doing. So, I thought I’d try doing it right before bed. But once I hit the bed I’d be so tired that I couldn’t focus on what I was reading or what I was praying about. (fall asleep praying, mind would wander and say amen in the morning)
And that’s another thing I struggled with in my prayers is not to pray A.D.D. prayers. “Heavenly Father I thank you for this day and for all your many blessings you have given me and my family. I thank you for the home and vehicle you’ve provided…speaking of that I need to get the oil changed in the car. I noticed an oil drip in the garage the other day should really think about getting the garage painted this summer. I wonder what colors that paint comes in now? Speaking of colors Taylor needs to pick one out for the hall way if she wants me to get that painted.” I’d like to do it before our trip in June. I wonder if she’s getting snacks for the trip. I better remind her to get those twizzlers I like. Could be a long one without them. Oh, sorry God. Amen.”
Another confession I have for you is that I have never liked prayer meetings. I know that sounds unchristian but I’ve never liked them. That doesn’t mean they’re bad or anything they’ve just always been something that’s made me uncomfortable and feel awkward. I remember when I was a little kid and sometimes at the end of the prayer meetings the pastor would have everyone join hands to pray and you would have people crossing aisles to hold the hands of a total stranger and that felt so incredibly uncomfortable for me. Then the pastor would pray these long drawn out eleqouent booming prayers that sounded so fancy that I couldn’t understand what he was even talking about. The guys hand I was holding would get all sweaty and hot, and the longer they prayed the more they squeezed which hurt. Or when you came to the altar to pray you’d be on your knees so long that your legs would start falling asleep and it made you focus more on the uncomfortable position you found yourself in rather than the prayer being prayed and all you wanted to hear was amen so you could stand up again. I think people really thought I was spiritual back then because I shouted amen the loudest after those long prayer times not because of what was prayed but because my legs and hands were allowed to have blood again.