Monday, March 29, 2010

Seven Practices to Increase Prayer

Since seeing the church’s deep need to increase prayer (Ephesians 6:18), I have thought about what practices might help us pray. I’ve compiled a few principles related to prayer that have been helpful for me.
1. Remember that prayer is an act of surrender (giving something up). Think about what you need to give up to pray. Maybe it is something spiritual like pride or, maybe it is something practical like TV, sleep or radio. Whatever it is, give it up for a calculated amount of time (ex., one hour every day for a week). The act of surrender itself puts you in a clear headspace for prayer.
2. Find a prayer partner. Find someone who shares your heart for prayer and commit to pray together at a certain time about a particular topic. Schedule prayer walks. Meet for coffee. Call each other to pray. Not only will you build your prayer life, you will gain a very close friend.
3. Pray while doing other activities. You would be surprised how much you can pray during a 15 minute drive or a 10 minute shower. You know how talking with a friend makes a task go by quickly. It works the same when talking to God.
4. Start a prayer journal. You’ll be surprised how natural it is to write out your prayers. It is even more exciting when you have an answer that you can document next to your prayer.
5. Read about prayer. Try anything by E.M. Bounds with “Prayer” in the title or Letters to Malcolm by C.S. Lewis. Ask a praying friend to recommend a favorite. Also, take the Next Step Survey at and see what it suggests.
6. Practice fasting. Richard Foster has written a book called Celebration of Discipline. Try the principles from this book for fasting and see what it does for your prayer life.
7. Force yourself into situations where you have to pray. Sign up for a Prayer Vigil at the church. Go to Wednesday night prayer meetings (6:30 in the Senior Center at Open Door). Step out in faith for something you can’t do without God’s provision. Start witnessing to a friend. Go on a mission trip. See what God does when you try something you can’t do alone.

One thing that you must remember is that prayer is not merely a listing of needs. In fact, petitioning God for help is at best secondary. Prayer is the conversation at the center of the relationship for which you were created. Delight in that relationship through prayer (Psalm 27:4). Talk about your day. Share your feelings, concerns and hopes. Listen for His voice. It would be better to forget your requests and simply converse with the Almighty than to ignore your relationship in the interest of your needs. Whatever you do, pray.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Prayer, Pride and Surrender

It is 4:18am and I just returned from the 24 Hour Prayer Vigil. It is very late, so I will not take too much time. However, I have realized something about surrender that I really must share: Prayer is an act of surrender. Asking God for help is like saying, “I can’t do this on my own.” Prayer is a humbling experience, but it is effective. I am concerned about why we don’t pray more. Consider these things:

Prayer is never left unanswered. I’ve studied church history and realized that every time God’s people have come together to pray in unity, God has done something tremendous (Acts 1-2, The Great Awakening, every revival since the day of Pentecost). Not only that, I’m looking at my own life and realizing that not only are my prayers always answered, but most of the time the answer is “YES.” How many times have I prayed for financial provision and never missed a bill? How often has He forgiven me when I asked for it? He always answers. We keep records of the requests our Prayer Team covers as well as their subsequent answers. And, even there we see God answers every time. God says “yes” to our prayers more often than not. So, why don’t we pray more?

We don’t like to surrender. I can’t say that I know all the reasons why we don’t pray often, but I think it has something to do with our pride. We don’t like to acknowledge that we can’t make it on our own. Prayer is admitting we are weak, and we don’t want to be weak. Interesting that the biggest excuse for not praying is: “I don’t have time.” What are we spending our time doing? We spend it trying to do what we think God can’t. We have this terrible fear that we are holding everything together, that if we stopped doing all the things we are doing, God would let it all fall apart. It is pride and lack of faith that keeps us from stopping to ask for help. Saying that we don’t have time to pray is like telling God that we don’t need Him. We have deluded ourselves and it is time to stop.

I don’t want to see the same results I’ve always seen. I don’t want to keep going to church and watch everybody stay the same. I want to see the lost surrender to Christ by the hundreds. I want to see alters filled. I want to see Life Groups evangelize friends and family in their homes. I want revival and there is only one way to get it: Pray.

What kinds of things are stopping you from praying, and what are you going to do to change them?

Monday, March 22, 2010

Roaring Poetry

Ride the Lion

If I were a man of mounted steed
I would not choose a horse to ride
For with a horse I'd choose my way
And safely I would stay

No, if I had a cause to ride
I'd grasp a beast of prey
For though I might not live to tell
Alive would be my day

I'd hold with all the might of men
Who wish for something real
And everything I did that day
Would be alive with zeal

The Lion is a kingly beast
The Sovereign of all things
No bridle built can tame this king
No man can tame His way

And if I grasp His mane today
I'll clench with all my might
We'll ride to places now unseen
We'll climb the highest height

The world will watch with joy and awe
And hope will boil free
We'll live and love and hope again
The Lion King and me

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Ride the Lion

What would it be like to ride a lion? The thought has been with me for a long time and has been closely tied to a growing desire to be a part of some adventure. This is strange, because for years the spirit of adventure has been typified in the individualism of the American cowboy. Mounted on a horse (not a lion), he chooses his own way with bit and a bridle. I've always been taken with this imagery. The courageous life of a man who answers to none but himself sparks that piece of our hearts that thirsts for risk and meaning.

With respect, I don't think that's true adventure. It is certainly exciting, and it made Clint Eastwood famous. But,to give up everything for the pursuit of individualism, for the pursuit of the self seems to be a narrow goal and a wasted sacrifice. What have I gained if at the end of my life I can say that "I did it my way...for me?" At that, my life, my meaning and my pursuits would all end with my death. A pursuit that ends with me is not a pursuit worth my life.

I'm inspired by the truth that real meaning only happens when one gives his life to something greater that himself. This is what I think it would be like to Ride the Lion. A man on a lion doesn't choose his path. He holds on for dear life. He spends no time looking back, because there is no time to look back. Heart beating, hands sweating, he only looks ahead because there is no telling what will come next. He is completely surrendered to the will of the lion. This is true adventure, and I want it!

I am weary of "cowboy" endeavors that start and end with me. I want to see life from the back of the Lion. Not knowing what comes next, I want to live with the excitement that He's going to take me where He wants to go. This blog is a chronicle of my attempt to live surrendered. I am often tempted to let go. Even worse, I sometimes try to turn or tame this Lion. But, ultimately I'm holding on with all I have. I hope my posts inspire you to grab on and hold on!