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Summary: This is the first in an Olympic Themed series of messages on the spritual disciplines.

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This week we are starting a new Olympic themed series called Pursuing Gold. I’m sure many of you, lime me, watched in awe last night as the USA men brought home another swimming Gold. Their relay win also gave Michael Phelps his eighth gold medal of these games - the most ever by any one person in history. It’s been quite an epic games for Mr. Phelps - in fact he admitted to Bob Costas later that this was “probably the best week of his life and everything had aligned perfectly.” I’ll say... But, you know - the truth is that while Michael Phelps winning 8 golds might have had some luck involved, winning gold was NO accident. He had been training for this his whole life - and training harder than anyone else too...

Paul tells us that as followers of Christ we are “Run in such a way as to get the prize.” (1 Corinthians 9:24) As followers of Christ we are supposed to train and work and have goals too...

Over the next few weeks we are going to look at some of the disciplines that can help us to win Gold in our own personal walk with Christ and today we begin with Prayer.

Jesus was known as a man of prayer. many of the scriptures show him praying, or ducking off to pray. Prayer was intensely personal for Christ. Many of the passages where we read of him praying are very passionate. He cried over Jerusalem, he wept tears of blood in the Garden.

But to be honest - my prayers aren’t like that...

If I am honest, my prayer life stinks. I don’t pray enough. I often let life and work and other things come before me and God. Sometimes, I even feel as if my prayers bounce off the ceiling - I know that they are supposed to reverberate around the throne room of God, but they don’t feel that way! Can any of you identify with that? Well then maybe this message is for us all...

Jesus gives us some advice on prayer in Matthew 6:6-13 (Read text) As I looked over this text this week, I started noticing that much of his advice are “don’ts.” Instead of spending his time on what we should be doing, he points out some flaws he sees from most peoples prayers. Like you and me, Jesus had watched an listened to many people pray...

Here’s his first bit of advice: Don’t fake it.

One of the great temptations we have is to fake our spiritual life. We think that if it all is okay on the outside - if it looks good, then the inside must be good too... Jesus saw people standing up to pray just for spectacle. He said, you know that really isn’t the point... You ought to focus your effort on just getting alone with God. Pray in secret. Spend time alone with God. Thats where prayer really is powerful!

He’s not saying we can’t ever pray in public - but rather that prayer needs to come from the heart... One of our former members was a man named George Hicks. For those of you who may not have known George, he was a rather cantankerous older guy. George was opinionated and didn’t mind at all telling you his opinion! That was okay, honestly I appreciated that George spoke his mind, but I always worried what might come out of his mouth... One Sunday, George was asked to pray for the offering. I was signing in the praise team and we had just finished a praise song, “This is your house” George wasn’t a huge fan of praise music, so I was a little worried as he started to pray, but wow - He started his prayer where that song left off and said, “Lord this is your house and we are your people.” There was a sincerity in his voice and I could tell that he had been touched in worship...


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