Today we shift to the power of prayer especially as it renews our sense of why!
Such a striking image, the one above. I would suggest it is simply manipulated, but to the person who has eyesight issues, the power of helpful technology like glasses cannot be overstated. Such brilliant and simply things as a pair of spectacles brings what is otherwise completely out of focus into sharp relief.
This is the power of prayer, make no mistake!
We have over the last few weeks talking about drawing near to Jesus:
Week 1 - was all about the simple and powerful practice of becoming more aware of God.
Week 2 - was all about how reading the bible can become a powerful listening exercise for us before God.
Week 3 - and last week was a "stream of consciousness" practice of listening to God through His word.
Today, we shift focus to the powerful re-focusing impact of prayer.
Look at Jesus
To understand the re-focusing impact of prayer, we're going to look at how prayer impacted Jesus life. Jesus serves as a model of what true and good humanity is meant to look like, in worship service to God and the world. Hence why we are looking more closely at an episode of His life.
Particularly, we're reading together about an episode early on in His ministry career:
"Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed. 36 Simon and his companions went to look for him, 37 and when they found him, they exclaimed: “Everyone is looking for you!”
38 Jesus replied, “Let us go somewhere else—to the nearby villages—so I can preach there also. That is why I have come.” 39 So he traveled throughout Galilee, preaching in their synagogues and driving out demons."
Do you see what happens here? Jesus deliberately, and at cost to Himself, rises early to go to a specific place to draw near to God the Father. And in so doing, after praying for some time, is able to answer His disciples clearly and decisively.
But this was no easy decision for him to make. He had much need around Him at the time, and therefore many competing demands upon Himself. And yet, we see a clearly decisive Jesus who knew what He had to do next. Notice particularly the key thought He expressed towards the end of this short dialogue with Simon and other companions present:
"...That is why I have come..."
Out of a mode of personally costly prayer comes a really clear sense of next steps for Jesus in the midst of pressing demands and needs that could have sent Him in numerous reactive directions.
We all have pressing needs and demands that come from our own lives and our worlds of work and relationships. We need nothing less than a clear sense of "why we have come". Having the ability to strongly, consistently, and clearly answer ourselves and our world of demands and needs with "this is why I have come" is essential to living a decisive life in a complex world.
So how do I get to why in prayer?
Without question, these are ways I have consistently found I get to clarifying my "why" in prayer:
Through carving out time for this kind of prayer - Jesus got up, at personal cost to himself, to seek the Lord. Before anyone else was up. When I carve out time, make time, for this kind of seeking prayer before our Lord, I find answers that I need to the bigger "why" questions!
Through asking simple and clarifying questions of the Lord - "Why have I come, Lord?"; "What am I to focus on in this month/year ahead, Lord?"; "Where are you calling me to specifically grow, Lord?"
Through listening for a particular passage of scripture the Lord directs me to think on, which contains answers to my "why" and "next steps" questions. The passage quoted above was one such passage given me by the Lord as I was preparing the sense of plan I needed from the Lord for our church in the coming year.
Through being patient in these times of prayer - often, if you're like me, it can be very easy to dart to a fro in my mind and almost anxiously search my thoughts for God. "Was that me, or God" can quickly and frantically come up in my mind as I practice times of prayer. But I have learnt to allow such flighty thoughts to pass, and settle into a place of worshipful waiting, trusting that God is present with me, and will speak into my time of prayer with Him, without pressure from me.
This Week Ahead
Take a hold of your calendar. Plan in more than one time of dedicated time to seek the Lord. If you need to bring any sense of agenda to the Lord, bring one question. And then, with a worshipful and calm atmosphere, give yourself in trusting prayer, scripture meditation, and waiting for the Lord's guidance and clarifying voice in the Spirit.
Seeking to keep a strong and renewed why before the Lord with you all this week ahead!
Written by Ps Rob.