October 14, 2004
Encouragement for Today
The Gift of Prayer
Mary Southerland, Member of Speaker Team, Director of Development, Author of Coming Out of the Dark
"Pray continually." I Thessalonians 5:17 (NIV)
Jered has always loved the outdoors, even as a baby. We lived in sunny South Florida for over twenty years and always enjoyed its climate, which allowed for year around outdoor activities. As a toddler, one of Jered's favorite places to go was the beautiful park across the street from our home. Squirrels scampered along walking trails and ducks dotted a small lake nestled under hundreds of tall oak trees. We had a routine. Each morning after breakfast, while I cleaned up the kitchen, Jered would run to his room, grab his hat, his "cool" Disney sunglasses and push his stroller to the front door. If I was not quite ready to go he would then climb into the stroller and wait - but just for a minute or two. Babies and toddlers are not known for their patience. At first, Jered would calmly announce his presence and his plan. But if I did not respond, his voice would begin to rise in volume and his request would soon turn into a firm request, well on its way to a command. "Mom, let's go!" And we always went! Sound like your prayer life?
Many of you are great conversationalists. When you meet someone new, you find it easy to talk with them, establishing a relationship within minutes. Others are not so eloquent. We may be a little shy or withdrawn so that when we meet someone new, we touch on a new subject, like testing a hot iron, and we are out of there! Even those who are great at meeting people tend to keep things on a surface level, talking about the weather, kids, jobs, etc. We don't usually start a conversation with, "Hi! It is so good to meet you. Could you tell me how much you weigh?" Everyone knows that is breaking the rules and may result in a sharp, painful blow to the body. We keep the conversation on safe ground until the relationship can handle a deeper level.
Sadly, some of us have never gotten past the "safe" level of conversation with God. We thank Him for food, ask Him to heal those who are sick and then proceed to give Him our list of requests and demands. The Father wants so much more than that!
While it is a wonderful privilege to share our requests with God, what He really wants is our heart conversation. He wants to know what is going on in your soul - not because He doesn't know but because He wants to be with you and interact with you. Praying continually not only means to pray silently, but to pray out loud, talking with Him like you talk with a close friend. Praying out loud involves every sense and solidifies an awareness of His presence. I pray out loud about everything from a parking space to the greatest crisis in my life. I have found that an ongoing conversation with God makes Him more real to me and deepens my relationship with Him. God never meant praying to be a burden but rather the most wonderful privilege of life. Don't miss this precious gift to you from God. He is waiting, listening for your voice!
My prayer for today:
Lord, I want to know you more. I truly want my prayer life to be as natural to me as breathing. Help me to learn how to pray, to share everything with you honestly and openly. By faith, I thank you for hearing me and loving me. Thank you for the gift of prayer. Amen.
Learn to recognize prayer as a privilege - not a burden.
Examine honestly the growth of your prayer life over the last year.
Make the commitment - right now - to make continual prayer a heart habit.
Ask the Holy Spirit to make me more aware of my silent conversations with God.
What has been my mindset concerning prayer?
Has my prayer life grown in the past year and if so, how? If not, why not?
Think back over the last month. What prayers has God answered?
What is keeping me from a powerful prayer life?
You will pray to him, and he will hear you, and you will keep your promises to him. (Job 22:27 NCV)
I am praying to you because I know you will answer, O God. Bend down and listen as I pray. Show me your unfailing love in wonderful ways. You save with your strength those who seek refuge from their enemies. Psalm 17: 6-7 (NLT)
When I called, you answered me; you made me bold and stouthearted. Psalm 138:3 (NIV)
When I think of the wisdom and scope of God's plan, I fall to my knees and pray to the Father, the Creator of everything in heaven and on earth. Ephesians 3: 14-15 (NLT)
Pray at all times and on every occasion in the power of the Holy Spirit. Stay alert and be persistent in your prayers for all Christians everywhere. Ephesians 6:18 (NLT)
But you, dear friends, must continue to build your lives on the foundation of your holy faith. And continue to pray as you are directed by the Holy Spirit. Jude 1:20 (NLT)
Prayer That Changes Lives, a tape set by Mary Southerland
Coming Out of the Dark, by Mary Southerland
Becoming a Woman Who Listens to God by Sharon Jaynes
Originally published Thursday, 14 October 2004.