Worship is not merely a personal matter to inspire the individual. It’s about the transformation of the person WITHIN, BY, and FOR the community of faith, the local church, through the devotion and worship of God almighty. While church worship need not be boring, it is also not designed merely to give us good feelings. While inspiration is a by-product of worship, it is not the central aim of worship.
Worship IS a communal activity meant to instruct a people. We tell our stories, learn our language and find our life in the presence of other Christ-followers. We go to church not to be entertained but to be trained.
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
Aristotle said to his disciples, “Follow my teachings.” Socrates likewise said, “Follow my teachings.” Buddha said to his disciples, “Follow my meditations.” Confucius said to his disciples, “Follow my sayings.” And Mohammed said to his disciples, “Follow my noble pillars.”
But Jesus says to his disciples, “Follow ME.”
In all the religions and philosophies of the world, a follower can follow the teachings of its founder without having a relationship with that founder. But not so with Jesus Christ. The teachings of Jesus cannot be separated from Jesus Himself. Christ is still alive, and He embodies His teachings. This is what separates Him from every teacher and moral philosopher in history…
…and then there was also that resurrection thing.
“Lord, teach us to pray.”
The request is not HOW to pray, though Jesus does teach us how. Neither is it WHAT to pray, though He does teach us what. We know how to pray and what to pray better than we pray.
“Lord, teach us to pray.”
We are tempted to let other good things displace prayer. As a result, we spend hours, days, and weeks for other things but only minutes for prayer. nowing how and what isn’t sufficient. We must take time to do it for God works in answer to prayer, and God at work is our greatest need.
Each of us has a personal mission field. These are the people who are in our lives and don’t know Christ or have a church family. It’s imperative that we first pray for them and then pray for a divinely appointed opportunity to have a conversation or interaction that leads to the gospel. Before we try to talk to them, we need to walk with them in terms of identifying ourselves as someone who genuinely loves them. That takes actions more than words.
Lord, I do not want my opinions of myself to be based on others’ opinions of me. I want it to be based on what You say about me. I want to start by asking for an understanding of how deeply You love me. Instead of holding Your love at arm’s length, I want to invite the full width, length, height, and depth of Your love. Even though I can’t completely understand it, I pray that I would begin to personally grasp it. I pray that Your love would work in my life so that I would live this day to give glory to You. I pray for this in Jesus’ name.
And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, 18 may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, 19 and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.
The more you understand God’s love for you, the more confidently and boldly you’ll live out your faith. You’re not trying to get God to love you. You are “rooted and established” in it.
And you can’t do it alone! Our power is a shared power. “That you may have power to grasp it together with all the Lord’s people.”
All of us each have a piece of the puzzle. Together we see the whole picture.