Friday, March 7, 2014

Prayer Times

"And he spake a parable unto them to this end, that men ought always to pray, and not to faint" - Luke 18:1 KJV

I remember what it was like before I came to know Christ. I didn't pray. I didn't see the value of it beyond an abstract psychological principle. I thought a God who wanted or accepted worship was an egotistical idea. I thought devout people were weak people who couldn't think for themselves. Yes, I remember scoffing the Bible and discounting it, logically ruling it out and seeing it as a book of fiction but a less attractive fiction that I was not interested in.

Getting on my knees this morning to pray I started to remember different seasons of prayer. In Bible college I used to roll out of bed unto my knees and spend time time kneeling in prayer before getting into bed at night. I spent a year in college as a prayer chaplain and many seasons during that time in a prayer room that has now been converted into something else. There are seasons where I have prayed a lot and ones where I have prayed very little. There were nights where we were up going through sheet after sheet of paper praying for people in the prayer chain. I remember Peter Merry in a sleeping bag waiting by the phone at the all night prayer times with Dick Schaffner. Singers coming from the music ministry and we would pray and then worship then pray again most of the night. Walking and praying with Dr Stevens, P Bill Cannon and others. Praying with people who are receiving Christ. Praying with people in their homes for a visit. Praying in tears and in silence. Praying and peppering God with questions. Praying for people to be healed and wondering at the ones who do get healed and the ones that don't. Standing and praying in a foreign country where I couldn't understand what the people were saying. Praying because it was my homework assignment and having to sign a piece of paper saying that I prayed and struggling to tell the truth about it when I didn't. (How would they know? But God would know.) Praying and telling God how unhappy I was and why. Praying with tears of joy streaming down my cheeks. Thanking God again and again in a seemingly endless stream and being carried away in it. Kneeling down assaulted with guilt about something terrible I had done, or though I had done, only to rise later with calm and joy in my heart. Trying to pray and then finding myself doing something else because I got distracted and midway through a sandwich before realizing and going back. Dry times of frustration where I told God, 'I just don't know what to say to You.' Urgent times in hospitals waiting with people and not knowing what would happen. Times of praying for things people have asked me to pray for. Praying with someone and wondering if I had bad breath and marveling at the stupidity of being so self conscious at a time like that. Prayer ruts where I felt like I was going through a grocery list and wondering if it was right or not. Days of scheduled prayer where I would pray at certain times for a person or a situation. Times where days and weeks would go by and the only thing I would pray for was my food if I even remembered to do that. Fasting times where I would try to pray but all I could think about was how hungry I was. Praying with religious or long winded people who could just keep talking and talking and talking and wondering if they were talking to God or themselves. Praying for those people to shut up or for the rapture to come. Praying before getting up to speak and struggling to let go of what I was planning to say and give it to God. Prayer times when the presence of God is so thick in the room and you exit taking that room with you into the rest of the day. Times where your mind says 'This is a waste of time' but a quieter part of you persists. Aggressive prayers where there is a battle to be fought and declarations need to be made out loud. 'Break their teeth' prayers. Praying for things to end and praying for things to begin. Peaceful prayers in rooms full of people. Praying in a small room with a few people while the Easter play is going on in a bigger fuller louder room.

Still, I remember when I didn't pray and could care less about praying. I had no one to pray to. I had no one that merited praise. God changed me. Grace changed me. The Gospel changed me. Jesus won me. Even now that I am His He still wins me again and again.

You don't need anything to pray. You can do it with an open Bible and that is great thing to do but it can be anywhere at anytime, silent or out loud, with people or alone. God isn't far away. I think we will see that He was always very close by.

If you feel guilty about not praying. Repent. Turn from even thinking that way. It is just a barrier set up to keep you from it. Guilt is useless and foreign. God is not angry about what you do or don't do. He poured all that anger out on the cross. God just wants to be with you. Prayer is a way to be with Him as He Is Being with you and participating in life.

"But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you." - Matthew 6:6 ESV

"In these days he went out to the mountain to pray, and all night he continued in prayer to God." - Luke 6:12 ESV

"and he said to them, 'Why are you sleeping? Rise and pray that you may not enter into temptation.' " - Luke 22:46 ESV

"We always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you," - Colossians 1:3 ESV

"Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you." - 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 ESV

"I desire then that in every place the men should pray, lifting holy hands without anger or quarreling;" - 1 Timothy 2:8 ESV

"I thank my God always when I remember you in my prayers, because I hear of your love and of the faith that you have toward the Lord Jesus and for all the saints, and I pray that the sharing of your faith may become effective for the full knowledge of every good thing that is in us for the sake of Christ." - Philemon 1:4-6 ESV


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