Prayer is not only about Asking

In the last several days, I have been involved in compiling a prayer journal for our churches in Africa. This involved putting together the many Praise points and Prayer requests from different Pastor’s in the region. It was an interesting task that left me with the following three lessons on prayer:

  1. Praying is not only asking

We have this as the biggest misconception on prayers. In most cases, we approach God with a long list of needs! We think praying involves just asking, and asking and asking! We then eagerly wait for answers. We see God as an ATM Machine that we go to and ask for instant cash.

PraaaayersIn a powerful prayer of Jesus as recorded by Evangelist John in chapter 17, we see Him not only asking from God but thanking God, Praying for others and adoring God.

In the only ‘How’ that Jesus taught his disciples, “How to pray” he taught them Lord’s Prayer that comprises of Adoration, Confession and supplication hence showing that praying is not only asking.

2. Prayers is not about the length

Jesus when talking of Prayers said that it is not the many words that make us be heard by God. In the Gospel of Jesus according to Matthew, the great teacher says;

“And when you pray, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do, for they think that they will be heard for their many words” Matthew 6:7 (ESV)

PrayersssWe are mostly unmanned by those fearsome stories of the great pray-ers like Marin Luther who would say that in a very busy day, he spends only the first three hours in prayer. When we think of this, we sometimes condemn ourselves. We tend to think praying is about many words hence miss the point.

We sometimes fall in temptation to repeatedly utter some phrases at a certain tempo and lie to ourselves that we are praying. We struggle in making our prayers sound ‘churchy and theologically attractive.’ We fail to learn from the earnest and hearty prayers in Psalms. We see people who would say what is in their hearts, and would constantly interrupt their own petitions to speak of Lord’s faithfulness and kindness.

3. Praying at all times

We tend to make prayer an activity. We set certain times for prayers. Then proudly say; Tick, Done, Finished! It is at these set times we experience a hyper spiritual feeling. Michael Reeves in his book, Enjoy Your Prayer Life reminds us that each day is already all God’s and thus we need to fellowship with Him all the time, all day long.

Tim Chester in his small book on Everyday Gospel notes that we can make even our sink in the kitchen a holy place, always in fellowship with our father even when we are washing dishes or doing the small and ordinary daily activities.

Prayer, John Calvin notes, doesn’t have to be a duty to be performed, but is rather a gift to be enjoyed. It is the most central of all Spiritual Disciplines since it brings us to a communion with our father.

In conclusion, let’s keeping exercising our faith when we pray. Learning to enjoy what Jesus has always enjoyed.

 
SANYO DIGITAL CAMERAAbout Kenneth Irungu
Ken is an Apprentice with iServe Africa serving at DOVE Christian Fellowship Kawangware, Nairobi.
He is Passionate of Gospel service and Faithful Bible Teaching.

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No Greater Love than this

The four-letter word, LOVE, is doubtless the most used word in the contemporary world, and especially in this month of February. Surprisingly, many have not yet experienced it. Others talk of ‘falling in love’ making me be left wondering, fall? Why not rise in love or climb in love?

valentineWe cannot talk of love without talking of one who set the standards of love. We may claim to love him, but the fact is, we cannot love him more than He first loved us! Without Him there is no Love. He is love. Think of the story of fall of man in creation, Man sinned, and we see God going out to seek the ‘fallen man.’ (Genesis 3:8-10). God’s Love for man made Him get out of his way to seek him.

In his letters, Paul of Tarsus noted, but God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us (Romans 5:8). God set the standards of love. In the most widely common verse in the Gospel of Jesus Christ according to John tells us that God gave His only son because of Love (John 3:16).

In his letter, John adds:

“This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.” (1 John 4:9-10)

At the heart of God is the desire to give and forgive, Richard Foster notes this in his book ‘Celebration of Discipline’. He loved us, thus He gave us His only son. Love made Him send Jesus to us, as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. We deserved death, but He chose to die for our sake, wonderful exchange. What great love is this!

Paul notes that God made him who had no sin to be sin for us (2 Cor 5:21). Why? Because of love! The cross of Christ is the sign of Love as well as a sign of submission. Jesus had some choices while he was on the cross. At a certain point, Peter even suggested to Jesus not to go to the cross.

“…Jesus began to explain to his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things at the hands of the elders, the chief priests and the teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life. Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. “Never, Lord!” he said. “This shall never happen to you!”” (Matthew 6:21-22)

love_1_john_4_19_poster-r7bf6dd92482e4cbcb8e3d5216a48bff9_ixh_8byvr_512Jesus could have resisted to be crucified. As we see above, Peter had a way out for him. But Jesus chose to die for us, not because of any other reason, but because of love. He decided to suffer shame, die in such a humiliating way to save us from our sins. It is not the nails that held Jesus at the cross, it is love. Love at its best!

Let’s praise God for loving us this much. Since God set the standard for Love, May we yearn to grow more like Him in Love.

 

Kenneth Passport
About Kenneth Irungu
Ken is an Apprentice with iServe Africa serving at DOVE Christian Fellowship Kawangware. 
He is Passionate of Gospel service and Faithful Bible Teaching.

 

Celebration of Spiritual Discipline

Apart from the Spiritual Discipline of Prayer, Study, confession and worship, which other Spiritual Discipline do you know?

Richard Foster in his book Celebration of Discipline, a contemporary classic that speaks too clearly to every Christian believer, identifies twelve essential spiritual Disciplines.

The profound thing in this book is how Foster has extensively and faithfully cited the Holy Scriptures in his urgings. Not only that, he has also sourced information from recognized devotional classics and even from secular thinkers.

fosterFoster divides the book into three parts; the Inward Disciplines, the Outward Disciplines and the Corporate Disciplines. Each part has four Disciplines, with four here having no particular connotation. He introduces the book with explaining how the Spiritual Disciplines are the door to liberation. However, he warns of several pitfalls that the readers should avoid in this adventurous life of the spirit.

The author gives Jesus as one to emulate in the Disciplines. He notes that in his busy ministry, Jesus would get time to meditate, time to pray, time to fast and time in solitude. In meditation, the author challenges us to hear God’s voice and to obey it. In the subsequent chapter, he notes that prayer is the most central of all the Disciplines and urges us to see things from God’s point of view.

In a remarkable manner, he distinguishes fasting from hunger strike and healthy dieting. He notes that fasting should forever center on God. On study, Foster notes that the key is not reading many books but experiencing what we read. He cautions that we come to scripture to be changed and not to amass information.

In outward Disciplines, Richard extensively covers on Simplicity that calls us to freedom of trusting God for all things. He stresses that Discipline of Simplicity helps us to set possession in the proper perspective. In next chapter, he notes that Jesus calls us from loneliness to solitude where we die not only to others but also to ourselves.

In Discipline of Submission, the author notes that leadership is found in becoming servant of all. He adds that power is discovered in submission reminding us that God call us to a life of submission as Jesus did. In service, he says that it is the most conducive Discipline to growth of humility. Just as the cross of Jesus was sign of submission, Foster notes that the towel is the sign of service.

In outward Disciplines, he says that God calls us to a lifestyle of worship that always come before service, starting with holy expectancy and ending in holy obedience. Foster reminds us that confession is significant to our spiritual growth for it quiets our conscience hence bringing an end to pretense. He notes that believing community is a fellowship of sinners and not saints, as many view it thus shunning away from confession of their sins.

foster 2

Richard Foster (Pic from Google)

The author emphasizes the need of a Spiritual Director who guides our spiritual growth. He concludes with Discipline of celebration which brings joy and makes us strong. Foster emphasizes that the joy that comes with celebration of Disciplines is found in obedience.

 

I would recommend the book to every Christian believer since it points out important Spiritual Disciplines, many of which we ignore, that are essential to growth of all. In addition, the book is helpful in that it warns against temptation of turning these Disciplines into law, isolating and elevating some disciplines over others and centering on Disciplines rather than on Christ.

May God help us practice and experience the Spiritual Disciplines besides knowing them. May He forgive us when we have turned these Disciplines to death breathing laws hence failing to achieve the freedom they are intended to give.

 

Kenneth Passport

 

Kenneth Irungu is an Apprentice with iServe Africa serving at DOVE Christian Fellowship Kawangware.
Passionate of Faithful Bible Teaching and preaching the Gospel.