Summary: Looking at developing spiritual habits to help us grow to become better connected to Jesus.
Spiritual Disciplines - Prayer
May 16, 2021
I would have to say one of the more difficult things for Christians to do is pray! If you’ve been doing it for years, then you might not think much about it. But if I were to take a survey of everyone in the room and at home, and ask, if you want to come up and publically pray, most would say ‘nope, that’s your job pastor.’
We don’t like to pray in public, and many of us struggle with praying privately. Yet, prayer is nothing more and nothing less than communicating with God on a regular basis.
Last week we started looking at prayer as a spiritual discipline. Remember, these are disciplines or habits we develop with helps us to draw closer and be connected to God. The main scripture for me comes from Jesus’ words in John 15, when He tells us - - -
4 Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me.
5 I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. - John 15:4-5
What Jesus is telling us is so important. So many of us try to do life on our own, and include God when we’re in trouble, yet, Jesus reminds us we can do nothing without being connected to the vine.
Jesus is our source of life. We are the branches. He is the vine / the root. If we’re disconnected from the vine, we gain no nurturing and are really powerless and everything we do ends up being on our own power, not through the power of Jesus.
So, we’re talking about prayer and I’m going to be super practical this week and next week. I’m going to give you lots of ways to pray and this isn’t the total list. There will be more next week The focus next week will be praying the scriptures.
OK, for now, let’s move into it - - -
In 1 Thessalonians 5, Paul tells us - -
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. - 1 Thessalonians 5:16-19
Those are some quick final thoughts from Paul. Rejoice always! We’ll talk about that in 2 weeks. What does that mean as a spiritual discipline. Give thanks no matter what - another tough thing to do . . . and then don’t quench or extinguish the Spirit of God. These aren’t always easy - are they?
But in the middle of all that is the command, and these are all commands . . . pray without ceasing. We all struggle with that one. It’s kind of hard to do something and at the same time to be praying.
We may think that sets us up for failure, because as the day moves on we realize how many times we’ve forgotten about God, let alone to pray about one thing after another. So, it can become easy to just give up on prayer.
But don’t do that!! Let me give you another way to look at it. The way Donald Whitney describes these words of Paul is very freeing --
If talking with and thinking of God can’t be in the forefront of your mind, it should always be peeking over and ready to take the place of what you are concentrating on. You might think of praying without ceasing as communicating with God on one line while also taking calls on another. Even while you are talking on the other line, you never lose your awareness of the need to return your attention to the Lord. So, praying without ceasing means you never stop conversing with God; you simply have frequent interruptions.
That is a great way to look at that verse. Just keep your phone lines open. Another way is to view prayer as having a conversation on a walkie-talkie with God. Even when we’re busy doing something, we still have the walkie-talkie on so that when God speaks to us, we’re ready to listen to Him.
Another way to look at it would be - - - to picture a phone conversation that even when you’re done, you don’t hang up the phone, but instead you leave it off the hook so that the conversation could begin again at any time.
There’s a handout in your bulletin and I want to move through the handout. But I’m going to start with the last item and move upwards. When it comes to prayer, some people are able to just jump in and away they go. For lots of people, we struggle with how and what.