Another common obstacle to prayer is an enslavement to “feeling.”
“I don’t feel like it.”
They assume that prayers are only efficacious when they rise from an eager and emotional heart. We should keep our appointment with God, whether we feel like it or not. The meek submission of our will deepens our surrender; our resolution to engage in prayer strengthens thought control.
Faith, not feeling, measures the efficacy of prayer.
There are many obstacles to having a strong prayer life and none more employed and observed than the lack of time or busy-ness. It’s a shallow obstacle because we clearly find time for less important things–entertainment and friends. We rarely use that excuse meaningfully to excuse our lack of time spent with those closest to us. Christ stole time from his sleep to pray. Just begin with 15 minutes/day and try to grow that over time.
Prayer is like a ladder, an ascent to God, step by step. This imagery can show us where prayer begins and to what heights it is capable of rising.
Step 1: Emergency prayer. Prayer commonly begins with the cry of escape. The lowest step on the ladder of the soul is the cry wrung from disaster or adversity.
Step 2: Confession. The next step of the ladder is the stage when prayer for outward help becomes a cry for deliverance from sin. Initially there is no thought of anything but the calamity which has befallen us. But slowly, as a person prays for help, there steals on him the strange conviction that he needs something deeper than assistance and that he is a sinner. So we cry out for a clean heart and right spirit.
Step 3: Request for personal virtue and grace. Deliverance is not everything if our walk is to be well-pleasing before God. We must become something, something in the image of Christ Himself, full of patience and courage and control. This can only happen through grace.
Step 4: Real submission to God’s will. We have to learn to get to the place where we can honestly trust God with the phrase, “Thy will be done.” This is the point at which we can have joy in prayer. Most people pray out of duty and not joy. Joy can’t be found in prayer if we come to God demanding our own way. Joy is born when we come to God wanting nothing but God and His ways.
Recently a church in South Carolina abolished “membership” in their congregation. Everyone started with a clean slate. No one was a “member” anymore.
They replaced it with “ownership.” Congregants could sign up to take ownership of the local congregation. This includes signing a covenant to attend worship regularly, be a part of a small group, serve in the church or in the community, and give regularly.
Why? Membership in our culture implies “getting something” from the body. While ownership suggests “taking responsibility” for the health and well-being of the body.
I like that concept. What do you think? Am I missing something or is this something more local churches should be doing?
Ephesians 5:18b says that we need to be filled with the Spirit. How do we know if we are?
1-2. Speaking and Singing (Ephesians 5:19) within the context of worship. But Paul isn’t just talking about vertical “God praise.” It should be to one another. There is a horizontal dimension to worship. In praising God we consciously should be directing our worship so it edifies others. Of course our hearts should be directed to the Lord (5:19b) and not in any attitude of “performance.”
3. Giving thanks (5:20). Thanksgiving is a natural outflow of the Spirit-filled life.
4. Submitting (5:21). Despite the “break” in most translations, grammatically this fits with the previous section. In submitting ourselves for the good of others, our crucified and risen Savior shines powerfully through us and we are filled with His Spirit.
Eating together builds relationships. It’s no accident that the oldest surviving recipe in the world is for a social beverage: beer. The greatest single indicator of healthy relationships in a family? Shared meals. The family that eats together (five nights a week) stays together.
First, the children of God are known by their actions:
- They love each other (1 John 4:7).
- They believe in Jesus (1 John 5:1).
- They love God and keep his commands (1 John 5:2).
As a result, children of God receive certain blessings:
- We have victory over the world (1 John 5:4).
- We have an intimacy with the Father by which we can call him “Abba” (Romans 8:15).
- We become fellow heirs with Christ (Romans 8:17).
- We await future blessings when Jesus returns (Romans 8:19-21).
So…are you a child of God? How have you been blessed as a result?
My son Micah made an astute observation after watching news of Black Friday near riots and crime. He said, “That’s ironic and sad. On Thursday we thank God for all that we have. We’re content. And then the next day we act like we NEED something so bad we’d trample other people.”
I think Black Friday should be renamed, “Ungrateful Friday.”
If you missed it…here’s one Walmart…