Articles on PrayerWhy Pray?
By Beth Misner
If you asked ten people “why do you pray?” you would very likely get ten different responses. Many books have been written about prayer with themes from how to pray, what scriptures to pray, what happens when you pray and so on. There are many references to prayer in the Bible; the disciples even asked Jesus to teach them to pray.
In Luke 21:34-36, Jesus admonishes us to “take heed to yourselves, lest your hearts be weighed down with carousing, drunkenness and the cares of this life…pray always that you may be counted worthy to escape all these things that will come to pass, and to stand before the Son of Man.”
When I was thinking about this passage today, I had to realize that, although we as Christians for the most part have a pretty good handle on the carousing and drunkenness part, how are we doing at not letting the cares of this life weigh down our hearts? Not so good? Jesus gave the antidote…pray always.
When you focus on living a life of prayer, the cares of this life can no longer weigh you down. You can distinguish more quickly which things that come up in your day have eternal importance and which things aren’t worth getting distressed by. You are living a life that is focused on the heavenly realm and not so much on the natural.
Is this what Jesus was getting at when he told the rich young man that by divesting himself of his worldly riches he would have treasure in heaven? (Luke 18:22) I have to think that praying always is a huge part of the process of laying treasure up in heaven, lightening our hearts and lifting the center of our focus in life up to Jesus Christ. This is the formula for being able to rejoice in the midst of suffering, heavy trials and circumstances that, to the outside world, seem to be unbearable and devastating.
This is why I pray. To know and be known. To love and be loved. To allow Him to keep my heart lifted up in the praise and glory of Jesus Christ, Lord and King. Have you prayed today?
In God's Grip
By Beth Misner
This summer I had the most amazing sailing experience with friends on a two-masted sailboat on Vancouver Harbor in British Columbia, . It started out nicely enough, with just a little bit of wind, the sailboat slipping through the silver, shimmering water peacefully and effortlessly. Then the wind began to come up a bit more and the sailboat started to list slightly. I was feeling pretty excited, confident in the abilities of my friend, Captain Don, when the sailboat really started to lean! My excitement went from being a sense of thrill to having just a touch of panic around the edges. And then I really began to feel scared. We were “keeling over” and I was very uncomfortable!
When my friend’s wife, Nancy, recognized the white knuckles and equally white face, she was quick to point out that we were in no danger of tipping over, due to the depth and weight of the keel under the hull. She explained that the keel was made of solid iron, weighed three tons and was seven feet deep below the hull of the sailboat. The keel would make sure that we didn’t capsize. I began to loosen my death grip on the side rails, the color came back into my face and I began to have a completely different sense of the adventure. We were still leaning dramatically, but knowing that the keel was holding us on the right side of the water’s surface, I could really have a fun time sailing and didn’t have to worry that disaster was imminent.
It came to me later, back on land in our hotel room, that this is how life is when you are firmly connected to the Lord in a relationship of prayer. Prayer helps to hold us firmly on the right side of life’s surface! Our experience can be different in the midst of “tipping” because we experience how strong and deep God’s love is through our communion with Him; it is the keel that keeps us from capsizing. As Pastor Bill pointed out in his devotionals last week, prayer “is not a way for us to move God’s hand or prompt the Holy Spirit, but prayer is God’s tool to grow our relationship with Him, to recognize that He is always with us.”
So when you experience your life beginning to tip crazily, remember Paul’s encouragement to the Philippians in chapter 4, verse 6: “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.” He is faithful to hear, comfort and shelter, even when the boat of life continues to tip.
Jump Start Your Prayers
By Beth Misner
My kids and I are crisis prayers; whenever we see a car crash on the road, or hear emergency vehicles coming our way, we launch right into prayers of protection, deliverance, guidance, blessing and comfort for anyone involved. One time we even saw a dog loose, running alongside the freeway and we prayed for that dog!
I was thinking about this recently and pondering how this might be the beginning of something that has the potential to lead us a step in the direction of Paul’s exhortation to “pray without ceasing” in 1 Thessalonians 5:17. As you are out driving to and from work, school, the store, the church, shopping, etc… pay attention to the things around you. When you pass by a school, use that as a memory jogger to begin praying for your child’s school, your grandkids’ school, the teachers at your school, the schools of your community. Going past a hospital? Pray for those you know who are sick. What about as you fill your cart in the grocery store with food items? Use that as an opportunity to pray for the starving and dying in this world who will go to bed tonight hungry. Sometimes just seeing someone walking down your street can prompt you to “flash” out a prayer for him as the Spirit leads you. Remember who it is dwelling within you! You may not, of yourself, know of this person’s needs, but the Spirit certainly does and can prompt you to pray in detail for him in exactly the way he needed your intercession at that time.
This technique can be used when you are at home, as well. Whenever reading the newspaper, take the time to pray for those who are written about there as victims of crimes, even praying for the criminals themselves, that all would come to the knowledge of Jesus Christ and His saving grace through repentance. After talking to a friend on the phone, spend a few minutes praying for her once you hang up.
These small prayer starters will take you from a place of just walking around through your day, doing your daily stuff, into a life lived fully with the Creator God, integrating Him into every detail of your life.
“The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.” James 5:16
Prayer: The Shield of Faith
By Beth Misner
In the movie 300, King Leonidis is approached by a badly-deformed hunchback who wants desperately to fight in the Spartan army against King Xerxes. King Leonidis is impressed indeed with his ability to wield the sword with his properly-formed and well-developed right arm, praising him for his strong thrusts of the blade.
But when he asks the hunchback to show him how high he can raise his shield, the humbled hunchback has to admit in defeat that his withered and twisted left arm is not strong enough to raise the shield more than a few inches.
"I cannot use you in my army," King Leonidis says. He goes on to explain that the strength of the Spartan army is that each man protects the man on his left with his shield. A soldier who cannot use the sword AND the shield is a weak link in this fearsome and mighty army.
Our prayers for each other are like these shields…our shield is the prayer of faith with which we protect each other. "The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working," Paul wrote in Ephesians 4:16. "Continue steadfastly in prayer, being watchful in it with thanksgiving," he exhorts us in Colossians 4:2. Taking up the shield of faith through effective prayer is one way to live out this exhortation of Paul's.
Remember that "our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the…spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms." Ephesians 6:12
It is vital that we learn how to protect each other through prayer.