Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Kids Are Ready To Step-Up

Steppin' Out With Jesus

PrayKids! Issue 8by Steve Hawthorne

--from PK Issue 8: Prayerwalking

Prayerwalking is one of the coolest ways to pray. It isn’t just about walking around or praying outside. Prayerwalking is about getting nearer to pray clearer. When families pray for their neighbors while taking a walk together,
that’s prayerwalking. When kids say a quiet prayer for their friends while they are at school, that’s prayerwalking—even though they’re not walking around or even praying out loud.

When we go prayerwalking, we usually walk along a street on the sidewalk with friends or family members. We pray for the people in the homes, schools, and businesses we pass by. We might pray out loud, but not very loud. There’s no reason to make a big scene. It’s really just a way to be on the scene.

Prayerwalking is full of surprises. Often when we pray for people, we don’t really know what their needs or problems are. But when we’re prayerwalking, we can sometimes pray more clearly because we get closer to the people and places that we know God wants to change in wonderful ways....

Click here to read the rest of this article.

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Thursday, December 17, 2009

Prayer Prompt ...

Prayer in a World Gone Mad
Desmond Mpilo Tutu

How do you pray▬why do you pray▬when the world seems so determined to be godless and unjust?

When I was a student at theological college, one day Father Hugh Bishop, who was at that time superior of the Community of the Resurrection, gave a devotional address which remained indelibly impressed on me. I was very impressionable then. But he was speaking about the Society of the Precious Blood, which as we know is a contemplative order in England but also they have a house in South Africa. And he said something very striking and odd, "You know, it is this order, and people such as the ones who are educated in and practice the life of prayer who in fact hold the universe together." Their entire work, their opus, was to bring the world before God in their worship and adoration and intercessions. They are the salt of the earth, the leaven in the lump.

Fuller Theology, News and Notes, Fall 2009

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Monday, December 14, 2009

Phil Miglioratti's Message on "So That" Praying

Pastors Conference Message on "So That" Praying

[item image]

Jesus prayed for himself ... but in a radically different way than most of us do - With radically different results!

===>Click headline to access the video of how to move from our problems to God's plan which alone can achieve God's purpose


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Saturday, December 05, 2009

Prayer Room @ Christmas

Preparing a Place in Our Hearts



By Kathy Bruins

Creating a spot for individuals to get away from the craziness that comes with the holiday season can be a wonderful gift. We need places of refuge and reflection to nourish our spirits to help us reconnect with the true meaning of Christmas--Jesus. In a way, we are making room for the newborn King in our hearts and pushing out the things that seem to fill our minds and schedules during the season such as parties, gifts, plays, and food.

The prayer room should look inviting. Keeping the environment simple is key to giving a feeling of ease and comfort. A room that is too busy or cluttered may make a person feel more anxious instead of relaxed. Soft light through a lamp or flameless candles can set a peaceful mood. Some people may want silence, but others may find soft instrumental Christmas music pleasant, so have music available for those who would like to use it.

Create a simple manger scene by placing hay on the floor (on plastic) with a manger resting on top of it. Place soft cloth in the manger to represent the swaddling clothes Mary used to wrap Jesus.

On a half sheet of paper, write: "Imagine how Mary felt as she laid her newborn son in the manger and covered him with the cloth. She wanted so much for him, as any mother would. She knew her baby was special. Jesus was a gift from God. He is a gift to all of us. Think about the names of Jesus displayed around the room: Prince of Peace, Immanuel, King of Kings, and more. What do these names mean to you personally?"

Provide three gift boxes, representing the gifts the Wise Men brought. These boxes should be wrapped in white or other plain colored paper that can be written on. Have markers available, and hang a sign that reads, "Pray about what gifts you would like to bring the Christ child. Write them on the gift boxes."

When people are ready to leave the prayer room, invite each one to take a candy cane from a display (either a Christmas tree or jar). Have a gift tag with the words of John 3:16 attached to each candy cane. This will serve as a reminder of the true gift of Christmas that God gave to us in Jesus.



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Friday, November 27, 2009

Inner~View #77: Your Journey to a Prayerful Life

Your Journey to a Prayerful Life


Phil Miglioratti interviewed Barb Schutt, author of Your Journey to a Prayer Life

Your Journey to a Prayerful Life

Phil ~ Barb, what does the title tell us about your book?

Barb ~ The title implies that learning to live a praying life doesn't happen overnight. It continues to be journey for me, as I suspect it is for most Christians. My hope is that people who read the title will be prompted to engage in an adventure of deeper prayer!

Phil ~ As you introduce us to the book, you wrote:
"God has been changing my life through prayer. He placed a desire in me to move from being a woman who knows how to say a prayer, to living a praying life."
...What does this quote tell us about your journey into a more fulfilling life of prayer?

Barb ~ I grew up in a Christian home and learned that praying routinely, such as before meals, and at bedtime, is something that good Christians do. I was also very aware of the power of prayer as I prayed with and for others. But as God placed a hunger in me for a deeper, more meaningful relationship with Him, I discovered that "saying prayers" was not enough. I believe God gave me the desire to learn more and then to put into practice some things that have encouraged growth toward a more fulfilling life of prayer. Prayer has become a way of life for me.



Phil ~ Throughout the book you make several startling statements - please comment:

Barb ~ Guess I didn't think of them as "startling!"
  • "To pray is to change" - Whenever we engage in conversation with God there is potential for change. Usually God reveals more of himself, more about ourselves or more about the situation about which we are praying, so transformation takes place. When we pray in faith we can expect to be involved in change!
  • "Prayer starts with God" - If left to ourselves, and because of our independent natures, we wouldn't be prompted to involve God in daily life, unless perhaps we are in a crisis. Even then, God is the one who invites us to pray, to engage in conversation and relationship with Him. We simply respond to his invitation!
  • "Praise agrees with God's perspective" - I have learned so much about the importance of including praise in prayer. I have discovered that when I praise God first, most of the things I have been struggling with or am worried about are put into a proper perspective. Praising God for who He is reminds me of his ability to handle any situation.
  • "Praise invites the Holy Spirit to work" - This is especially true in corporate worship. Have you noticed how praise and worship opens our hearts and minds to the work of the Holy Spirit? I have experienced with great frequency, that when congregational singing and prayers are focused on praising God, the Holy Spirit is free to move in through the preaching of the word with great power! Dead worship experiences can often be attributed to a lack of praise.
  • "When we listen to God, we receive guidance from the Holy Spirit" - God speaks through His word, through prayer, through wise counselors,and through circumstances, but we have to be quiet long enough to listen for His voice. One of the primary roles of the Holy Spirit is to give guidance or counsel, but we have to be open to hearing it. To me, that means I need to listen to God at least as much as I talk to God.
  • "Continual prayer is about developing an awareness of God" - For me, praying without ceasing means to live with an ongoing awareness that God is involved in every aspect of life and He is at work in me and all around me at all times. This attitude or awareness allows me to pray continually. I don't mean saying audible prayers 24/7 but rather being conscious of the Spirit's intercession for me, of God's provision and protection and of Jesus' deep love for me throughout the day.
  • "Group prayer was the driving force of the Acts church" - Lots of cool stuff happened in the early church as a result of people praying together! When people prayed, the Holy Spirit showed up with great power!
  • "Prayer makes evangelism exciting" - If we try to do outreach or evangelism without prayer we have a tendency to rely on our own gifts or on the strength of our own story. But when we pray for the Holy Spirit to open up people's hearts, ears, minds to the things of Christ and they begin to respond, we know it's a God thing. It is so exciting to see how God works when we have prayed specifically for someone's salvation. I don't have the spiritual gift of evangelism, so if I am prompted to share my faith with a pre-Christian I
    am keenly aware that I will mumble and stumble without doing some prayer work first.
  • "Prayer is not limited by time or geography" - Prayer transcends time or geography. Because I have lived in 15 different places throughout my life I am aware friends and family located in many different states and time zones. I can't physically be with my dad, for example, who is in ill health in Fl, but I can minister to him regularly through prayer. We can pray anytime, anywhere. We are not limited because God is always ready to listen and respond!
  • "Jesus' prayer life didn't end when he left earth" - This refers to the Heb. passage that teaches us that Jesus intercedes for us at the right hand of God, the Father.
  • "Prayer alone has no power" - Sometimes we can worship our spiritual disciplines rather than worshiping Jesus. This statement was written in the context of keeping in mind that without Christ our words have no power. The same is true of great music, or dynamic small groups or an amazing youth ministry. Without focusing on Christ none of these have power.

Phil ~ In the Foreword, Martha Grace Reese writes:
"After interviewing 1200 people, conducting surveys, visiting churches and analyzing mounds of statistics from churches in seven mainline denominations, we made a major discovery. Prayer is the major underpinning of the great evangelistic churches. We also discovered Barb Schutt!

...What does this reveal to us about your passion in prayer and the need to reconnect praying and witnessing to Christ?

Barb ~ I was amazed to read Gay Reeses' comment and am humbled by it. But I am passionate about prayer and I am passionate about the Church of Jesus Christ and I wholeheartedly agree that "prayer is the underpinning of the great evangelistic churches." I believe that prayerless churches = dying churches. That's why whenever I get the opportunity to encourage prayer teams or pastors to deepen their personal life of prayer and the life of prayer in their congregation I get excited! I have seen the difference a praying congregation makes in the life of their community, reaching seekers for Jesus. There is nothing more exciting!



Phil ~ If you could speak to a group of pastors, what would you want them to hear from you? Encouragement? Exhortation?

Barb ~ Probably some of each! I first want to encourage pastors to be sure they have a prayer shield or a PIT crew. (Personal Intercessory Team) The work of the pastor is much too difficult to do without strong prayer cover. The arrows come from within and without. Without prayer protection pastors are vulnerable to all sorts of junk. I would be less worried about sharing your struggles and trying to hold out an image and more willing to tell some trusted prayer warriors how you need their specific prayer support. Ask for prayers for your family as well for your ministry. Ask your prayer team to pray that your personal spiritual vitality would be renewed and refreshed. Next, I want to encourage pastors to teach their congregants to pray. Many people attending worship know they should pray but they really don't know how to do it. Teach by example as well as through sermons, classes, small groups, etc. Gather a group to fast and pray with you regularly and then be ready to see how God changes you and the church where you serve. If you are not a person of prayer or aware that you are weak in this area, don't let that stop or hinder your congregation from growing in their life of prayer. Pray that God will give you a hunger for a richer prayer life. Surround yourself with prayer mentors and be willing to see how God will change you from a person who knows how to say a prayer to a pastor who is living a praying life!



Phil ~ Prayer leaders and local church prayer coordinators often feel isolated; sometimes tagged as the prayer lady or prayer guy. What would you like to say to them?

Barb ~ Yes, prayer leaders often feel very alone. Sometimes we do it to ourselves because we can be so intimidating. Sometimes we are viewed as being very judgmental or pious. Some prayer leaders are known as the "prayer police" in their church, always checking to be sure people are praying, or counting heads at prayer gatherings. I would like to say, let's "lighten up." No one is drawn to a ministry that is viewed as judgemental. No one will feel like they measure up if we give the impression that people have to pray exactly like we do. Rather than giving messages that are discouraging such as "Only 3 people showed up to pray last Tuesday" we can say, "It was so great to be in the presence of Jesus last Tuesday and here is how God answered our prayers. Would you like to be part of this?" If they decline, keep on praying. Leadership is lonely for other church leaders too. Prayer coordinators are not the only ones. Don't take it personally, just keep being faithful to what God is calling you to be and to do.


Phil ~ What about the church member who has a growing passion to see prayer saturate their congregation but sees little interest among leadership ...

Barb ~ This is a tough one and from what I hear it happens alot. Again, just keep praying for your leaders and for your church. Keep the lines of communication open with your leaders. Encourage and support them and speak well of them whenever possible. Form a prayer shield for your leaders. Pray for them while they are in meetings, conducting services, doing the work of ministry. Pray for God to give them a hunger for deeper prayer.God will reward your faithfulness in prayer.



Phil ~ Barb, please give us a prayer we can pray with you, asking the Lord to take His Church further on the journey towards a prayerful life.

Lord God, we praise you that you are the only King and Head of the Church. We praise you that you have called us to be involved in the work of ministry. What an awesome privilege and responsibility. Jesus, when you left this earth you established the church to carry on your ministry. Teach us to pray and then help us to continue the work of teaching men and women to pray. Empower us by the Holy Spirit to be effective in communicating your desire to have us live in unbroken fellowship with you through prayer. Move us beyond perfunctory, routine ritual to deep meaningful praying lives. Help us keep our eyes fixed on Jesus. In Christ's name, Amen.

Barb ~ Thanks for this opportunity, Phil. It is my prayer that Your Journey to a Prayerful Life will be a tool useful for pastors and prayer leaders as they seek to encourage Christians at every stage of the journey to keep moving deeper in their understanding and practice of prayer. It is set up as a 6 week study, can be used alone, but probably best with a group of 4-12 people. The daily lessons get us into the Bible and the study encourages some scripture memorization, practicing different prayer styles and prayer action steps. As individuals grow in their life of prayer, congregations will also grow to become more prayerful. And my prayer is that as we pray the Spirit will be unleashed so that many will come to know Christ as Savior and Lord!

Blessings,
Barb Schutt
dbschutt@pacbell.net



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New Podcast with International Prayer Leader



Phil Miglioratti interviewed Dennis Fuqua, author of the newly released book, Living Prayer: The Lord's Prayer Alive in You.


I was amazed at the fresh insights the Spirit has given Dennis; each one practical for both personal and corporate praying. The book includes 56 sample prayers based on how Denis prays the Lord's Prayer.

===>Click the headline to access the interview

"If you’ve never studied the Lord’s Prayer, you need to read this book. If you’ve studied the Lord’s Prayer many times, you really need to read this book."

Dr. Dan R. Crawford, Chair of Prayer and Spiritual Formation Emeritus

Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary



===>Click here to see videos on the book and to order . . .

===>Click here to listen to Dennis' TeleSemianr for the Church Prayer Leaders Network . .


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Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Corporate Prayer: Praying in Community

Learning from others in community prayer

I went to a seminar today at Light & Life Ministries in Elgin. The speaker was Phil Miglioratti (see my previous post) and the topic was primarily raising up more effective prayer in our churches. The entire seminar was incredible - if you ever get a chance to attend one of Phil’s seminars, I highly recommend it. But the point of this post is how uniquely he emphasized the importance of praying in community.

Praying in community is important for many reasons, several of which I cover in the book. But Phil emphasized one today that I hadn’t considered before, and that’s how we learn from each other when we pray together. I’ve often said that prayer is more than we think it is because God himself is bigger than we can possibly imagine. It follows naturally that none of us has all the answers on prayer and none of us prays in a way that completely captures all that prayer should be. As we pray together, then, we have the opportunity to learn about prayer and learn about God from the ways in which others pray. ===>Click headline for complete article . . .



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Monday, November 09, 2009

Resource: Prayer Guide Teaches Christians How To Pray For Their Acts 1:8 World

Extraordinary prayers for ordinary people


Dear praying friend,

Now more than ever, it is time to pray with solid biblical hope. Get a look at the latest edition of Seek God for the City. It is designed to help everyday believers pray with clarity, with relevance and with solid biblical hope for God’s purposes to be fulfilled in their communities. Each day gives you a creative way to pray for others throughout your city.

The prayers in Seek God for the City 2010 are designed to help lift your prayers beyond your own concerns. We will be asking God to do things on a "city-size" scale, bringing His kingdom and transforming our culture. Many say that Seek God for the City brings them to a greater maturity in their praying.

It is designed to guide prayer through the forty days leading to Palm Sunday, February 17 through March 28, 2010. This 64-page booklet is a proven tool that unites and guides whole churches in persistent prayer for spiritual awakening throughout their communities. A children's companion version and a Spanish translation will soon be available online. These are both accessible at no charge from our website in a PDF format designed to be printed and photocopied.

It's affordable. For as little as $1.20 each, the significant quantity discounts make it possible to equip many in your church or community ($3 single copy price).

We are offering a complimentary review copy to leaders in recognized positions of pastoral or prayer leadership. Call our office at 800-264-5214 to request a review copy.

I strongly sense that we need to remain resolute to seek the face and the fellowship of the living Son of God. Now is His hour. Let’s join Him in what He is doing and call our churches to pray as never before.

Yours in hope,

Steve Hawthorne, Director
WayMakers, PO Box 203131, Austin, TX 78720
512.419.7729
http://www.waymakers.org

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Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Online Resource for Prayer Leaders







Members receive:
There is a lot of information and help for you as a local church prayer leader. We invite you to consider becoming a member.

Blessings,
Jon Graf, President, CPLN

In This Issue
New Member Features
It Seems to Me . . .by Phil Miglioratti
Seven Habits of Highly Successful Pray-ers: Habit #5
Resources to Develop Praying Families on Special
The Church at Prayer: Practical Ideas from Praying Churches
Do You Need a Retreat?
Still Time to Attend Approach His Throne


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Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Shield Your Pastor with Prayer

Ways to Promote Prayer for Pastors

1. Choose one pastor and church (in addition to your own) to pray for during the Sunday morning service each week.
2. Put a picture of your pastor(s) in your church prayer room to remind people to pray.
3. Distribute copies of your pastor’s preaching text to adult Sunday school classes so they can pray for the Word to go forth with power and authority before he preaches.
4. Involve your church cell groups in praying for the pastor(s). Create a prayer portfolio about the pastor, including his vision for the church, any expressed needs, his schedule, and his sermon texts for the next few weeks. Rotate the portfolio from group to group so that, at any given time, one group is lifting him up to the Lord.
5. Ask church members to write prayers based on Scriptures and mail them to the pastor as an encouragement.
6. Open the sanctuary an hour before services and invite people to come to pray specifically for the pastor....

(Please click here to finish reading, print, or email this article from Pray!'s online archives, November/December 2004)

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Friday, October 09, 2009

A Prayer to Bless Your Pastor



Sunday, Oct. 11 is Clergy Sunday, a day to honor those who serve the Body of Christ.

I would like to bless your Pastor. Would you please print this out and hand it to him/her this Sunday? I can't be with them in person, but if I could, I would pray this prayer over them, that they might walk in all the grace God has for them.

Pastor, as a servant of the Lord Jesus, I extend a blessing to you today in His name. I bless you today in the power of Christ's resurrection, with the courage of His dying, and the strength of His rising. With the revelation of the Holy Spirit released to you through His ascending, and the grace imparted to you through His atonement.

May you stand today in the firm knowledge of His everlasting love for you, and experience in the depths of your soul the never-ending peace He has purchased for you. May you hear clearly what He speaks to You today, and may His words stir an overcoming faith in your heart.

May you walk in the center of the path He lays before you without fear, and with the conviction to move mountains that stand in your way. May you inspire those around you to seek out the God you serve, and find the rest you have found in His arms.

May you be blessed as you rise up and as you lie down. May your day be filled with the sweetness of serving others, and your night bring dreams and revelation of the God who loves you.

I bless you today with all that Christ has purchased for you. With forgiveness of sins, and freedom from guilt, with the Sabbath rest that frees you from religion. With the truth He revealed to set you free, and the faith he imparts to empower your life, and ministry

I bless you today in the resurrection power of Christ, with the courage of His dying, and strength of His rising. May you walk unafraid, rise above the struggles of this earthly life, and move in power from your position in the heavenlies where you are seated with Him. And may His name be glorified today through you life, and the Body of Christ be blessed through your service.

Blessings,Wayne Dillard
www.prayercentral.net

P.S. Don't forget our daily prayer for Pastors this month at:
http://prayercentral.net/engage-me/targets/praying-for-pastors

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Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Declarative Prayer

Declarative Prayer

“Declaring prayer simply means that once we know God’s heart on an issue, we boldly pray that it will be so, and then walk in faith that it is already so - even if the answer is not yet visible.”
Jonathan Graf


The scene was absolutely breathtaking. Situated on the side of a mountain in an apartment, we didn’t initially realize where we were living. That is until we took an elevator down several stories, walked down a long series of steps, and out the gate into a curved street that is so typical in Spain. As we walked, I looked up with a gasp at the very place where we were living. High up was the balcony of our apartment protruding out the side of a mountain. It looked so small and vulnerable seated among a number of mountain cliffs. For a few days we actually were living on a cliff!

Now I don’t personally like cliffs but I do love high places because I love to pray high up where I can see a great distance of landscape and trees. And this place was perfect for that! The view was out of this world. The sky was blue and the sea was the richest color of blue-green that you had ever seen. On one side were the Sierra Nevada Mountains painting half the scenery and on the other side was the Mediterranean Sea. We were sandwiched directly in the middle.

This was last year in Spain. My husband and I would have prayer times in this apartment. One time when we were praying we decided to go out on the balcony, and he began to declare and pray over the land. Suddenly we began to declare God’s Word in prayer as we looked at the beautiful landscape before us. We knew there was a lot of hidden darkness underneath, but we knew we had power in prayer. He pointed directly to the mountains and said as an act of faith,

“This is a place of faith. It’s time to say to this mountain, ‘Be removed and be thrown into the sea!’”

We had been going through a particularly difficult time regarding our future. Not knowing which way to go and feeling bombarded by attacks from the enemy at every turn, it was an important declaration when our faith seemed at low ebb.

But as
we declared God’s Word directed by His Spirit, all of a sudden our faith began to rise! We began to believe God for greater things in prayer. Hope began to fill our hearts and our prayers became more forceful. We realized afresh the importance of declaring God’s truth out loud for spiritual breakthrough.

Declarative prayer is a dynamic way to pray strategically. We must be willing to learn to wait to hear the Lord’s voice if we want to pray declarative prayers. We must know the Lord’s timing and voice. It can’t be our personal desire. It’s not a name it, claim it prayer. It must be God, because He always has a plan. As His ambassadors and representatives on earth, we are to stand in the gap in prayer for others (Ezekiel 22:30). As we obey and pray His Word, God wants to use us to bring healing on the earth. Barbara Wentroble in her book Prophetic Intercession says:

“Intercessors should be able to hear God speak. As He speaks, He will reveal areas that need prayer, strategies to overcome the enemy, actions or declarations to break the power of hindrance, and even reveal the sources of warfare. Victory can be obtained through obedience to the Word of the Lord.”

Declarative prayer claims supernatural intervention from God on God’s terms, not ours. Our faith for declarative prayer comes from God and not our own efforts - God works through our faith - He is the object and source of it. It’s not about our faith, our own effort and abilities or anything else. It’s all about God. He calls forth what doesn’t exist in the natural realm (Romans 4:17). Matthew 16:19 says, “I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven." God does the binding in heaven, and then we carry it out on earth. We receive the “rhema” word from the Bible. As we listen to God, our faith grows.

God wants us to use His word to release His will on the earth. In Genesis 1, the Spirit moved at God’s Word. There is anointing on God’s Word. Jesus resisted Satan by speaking God’s Word in the desert (Matthew 4:4-10). Let’s realize what God has made available to us if we will believe. He has given us the keys to His Kingdom.

  • There is power in our words - “The Spirit gives life; the flesh counts for nothing. The words I have spoken to you are spirit and they are life” (John 6:63).

  • Our words release life and death - “The tongue has the power of life and death, and those who love it will eat its fruit” (Proverbs 18:21).

  • We must speak and declare God’s Word - “It is written: ‘I believed; therefore I have spoken.’ With that same spirit of faith we also believe and therefore speak” (2 Corinthians 4:13).

When our hearts and our words agree with God’s will, they release His power in a dramatic way. But if our words agree with Satan, we release his power. Declarative prayer affects the spirit and heavenly realm by binding demonic activity and loosing angelic activity. Jesus fights when we speak His Word in intercession and when we declare decrees according to His leading. He fights with the sword of His mouth (Revelation 2:16). We are to proclaim the decrees of the Lord. If we ask, He will give us the nations as our inheritance! (Psalm 2:7-8).

Listening to what God is saying is key. The Bible promises us in John 10:27 that God’s sheep hear His voice. There are many examples of declarative prayer in the Bible. Jesus cursed the fig tree in Matthew 21:19, Ezekiel spoke to the dry bones in Ezekiel 37:4-9, and God told Moses to speak to the rock in Numbers 20:7-8. Jesus even taught us to speak to the mountains in our lives in Mark 11:23. This is what my husband did in that apartment in Spain. But how can we be sure that we are hearing God’s voice in order to declare His will? Here are a few questions you can ask yourself as you learn declarative prayer:

  • Am I giving glory to God or is this for my personal gain and desires? Faith declaring prayer is for the glory of God alone.

  • Does my prayer expand God’s Kingdom? Declarative prayers expand the Kingdom of God.

  • What does God want to do in this situation? Declarative prayers pray God’s will and His desires with faith.

  • Are my motives pure and am I surrendered? Declarative prayers have pure motives (James 4:3).

  • What are the promises of God in Scripture? Declarative prayers pray God’s promises in His Word.

Do we realize the responsibility we have to determine what we do on earth for the Kingdom of God by our words? We read in Psalm 115:16 “The highest heavens belong to the Lord, but the earth he has given to man.” We can pray and declare what God wants to release on earth and what is on His heart for the future. We can pray His promises onto the earth where we live and work. Job was instructed to pray and declare before God and it would be established (Job 22:22-28). That’s powerful.

Are you living on a cliff in your life experience? Are you going through a difficult time where you don’t know which way to go? Do you need a breakthrough? Perhaps it’s time to speak to the mountains in your life through declarative prayer. Let’s learn to ask God for greater faith to listen and pray His will on earth for His glory in our daily life experiences. And let’s learn to walk in faith as we hold onto the promises that we have boldly prayed.

“When God puts a specific verse in my heart showing me how to pray for a particular situation, my faith is naturally heightened. To engage in listening prayer, receiving a precise Bible verse for a specific situation enables me to pray His will with His wisdom. ‘so faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the (rhema) of Christ’ (Romans 10:17). Hearing a specific word - a rhema - from God produces faith! Now that’s worth waiting for.” Mel Winger

Together in the Harvest,

Debbie Przybylski, Intercessors Arise
deb@intercessorsarise.org
http://www.intercessorsarise.org

To subscribe to Intercessors Arise, click
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Uncommon Prayer ~ Top 10 Ways Jesus is Described in Hebrews

>>>Note: Use the scriptures below as a focus (Jesus) a format for the flow of praying (spend several minutes praying from each reference; transition from one to the next with a song that makes the same point of the next scripture) . . .

Scripture: Hebrews 1:1-2: “In the past God spoke to our forefathers through the prophets at many times and in various ways, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom he made the universe” NIV

The Book of Hebrews in the Bible is an exciting description of Jesus as the Old Testament gives way to the New Testament. Following are significant descriptions of Jesus contained in the Book of Hebrews:

10. Hebrews 1:2 --- Jesus is the creator and heir of all things

9. Hebrews 1:3 --- Jesus is the brightness of God's glory in HIS image

8. Hebrews 1:4 --- Jesus is much better than the angels

7. Hebrews 1:6 --- Jesus is worshiped by angels

6. Hebrews 1:8 --- Jesus is King of a righteous kingdom

5. Hebrews 1:13 --- Jesus is the authority over His enemies

4. Hebrews 2:3 --- Jesus is the first demonstrator of the Gospel

3. Hebrews 2:6 --- Jesus is the Son of Man

2. Hebrews 2:7 --- Jesus is crowned with glory and honor

And the number one way Jesus is described in the Book of Hebrews:

1. Hebrews 1:5 --- Jesus is the Son of God

Prayer: Father thank you for the divinity of Jesus. In the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. Amen!


Copyright (c) 2009 - Pastor Bill – Christian-Cyber-Ministries - All Rights Reserved
Our Mailing Address: Christian-Cyber-Ministries, 1870 2nd Ave. SE #130-1, Cambridge, MN 55008, USA


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Monday, September 21, 2009

"A" is for Adoration


Adoration

“Ad” means “to.” “Ora” means “mouth.” Thus the literal meaning of adoration is “to one’s mouth.” Romans performed the act of adoration by raising the hand to the mouth, kissing it and then waving it in the direction of the adored object. The word adoration came to mean, homage paid to one held in high esteem, as in worship. The early church felt that adoration was for God alone; feeling that adoration for any one or thing other than God was idolatry. However, controversy arose distinguishing adoration for God alone, from veneration which was accorded to the saints. In 787 the Second Council of Nicaea concluded adoration was for the worship of God alone, ruling the practice was not to be applied to earthly rulers, angels or saints. Seems to me we have reverted to the early church controversy. It was written of the disciples of Jesus, “When they saw Him, they worshiped Him” (Matt. 28:17). To earthly leaders, pastors, evangelists, counselors, ministers, helpers, etc, let us respect, honor, admire, and follow when such is due. But let us worship and adore Jesus only.===>Click headline to access Dr. Dan Crawford's website . . .


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Thursday, September 17, 2009

Quote; Unquote

“Prayer is so much more than handing a list of requests to God. If you want earth shaking results, you will be required to travail until heaven’s plan becomes a reality on earth.

If we are honest with ourselves, we must admit that our prayers frequently degenerate into little more than religious incantations and shallow platitudes spoken out of a sense of religious duty. Yet, the Bible compares prayer with the travail of childbirth. It is, in essence, a passionate activity.”

(Excerpt from article “Pray Until Something Happens” by doug stringer, published in Charisma Magazine, March 1999)


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Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Your Church Can Plan A Prayer Conference

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Planning a Prayer Conference in Your Church

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(This is an archived article that we like to run each year since we have many prayer leaders who are new members.)



One of the most effective ways to fire up people to participate in prayer is to hold a prayer conference. Even the smallest of churches can use this resource. Here are a few pointers:

Read more . . .

Would You Like to Host a CPLN Event? Click Here.


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Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Good is Good but not Good Enough

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Good Enough?

Recently I heard a ministry colleague make a statement I am sure I'll never forget. I have already used it dozens of times in teaching and training.

He made the point that, while what we usually do a good job of praying or studying or whatever, it is not good enough! My immediate reaction was defensive but, after thinking about it, I realized how right he was. Most of what we do as believers and as congregations is good; it is just not good enough if our objective is to blanket the globe with the Gospel. If our aim is to see entire communities impacted by Christ, then my praying (and maybe yours), as good as it is (whatever that means) is just not good enough.

So, when it comes to praying for lost neighbors and hopeless neighborhoods, is your praying good but not good enough? It is good to pray for the youth of our churches but that is not good enough to impact their schools. Yes, pray for a Christan who has influence in business or government or media but that will not be good enough unless you pray also for the sphere of life he or she is sent to each working day.

I know you pray. And every congregation I visit has prayer times and prayer lists and prayer rooms and prayer guides. Good. But not good enough to see the Great Commission fulfilled in our nation or even your neighborhood.

We must refocus our prayers on Christ.

We must reorient our praying to the leading of the Holy Spirit.

We must review our petitions and intercession according to the will of the Father as revealed in scripture.

"Lord, teach us to pray prayers that are good enough that the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the LORD, as the waters cover the sea."(Hab 2:14)

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Sunday, August 23, 2009

Praying For Those Who Suffer

Prayer in the Midst of Physical Suffering

By Susan Sorensen, co-author of Praying Through Cancer

For just as the sufferings of Christ flow over into our lives, so also

through Christ our comfort overflows.

2 Corinthians 1:5

We all know people who suffer with physical ailments. Maybe you are one of them. My battle with cancer began more than 20 years ago at the age of 19. I was home from college and getting a few routine medical check-ups. My doctor noticed a lump on my neck which proved to be thyroid cancer. Several surgeries later, they had removed both my thyroid and lymph nodes as a result.

At the age of 41 it happened again. An annual mammography and subsequent biopsy revealed that I had breast cancer. I was at a completely different place in life…now a wife and a mother of young children. Once again, I walked down a path I wouldn’t have chosen but where I found God to be faithful.

To say I was carried through these physical challenges is an understatement. God transformed my prayer life and taught me some very important lessons about praying for others.

Prayer Boot Camp

During my first battle with thyroid cancer, I came to love the story of Gideon in Judges 6. God told Gideon to raise up an army to fight the Midianites. After needing much confirmation, Gideon gathered nearly 40,000 men. Then God told him there were too many! The ranks were narrowed until only three hundred men remained. The Lord then explained that He was keeping the army small so that the Israelites would not boast in their own strength but would know that the Lord saved them.

In the midst of my treatments, these verses spoke close to my heart. Through them I was challenged with a question, “Do you take enough risk in your life to know that it is not you, but God who won the battle?” I have come to realize that when we step out in faith (or are pushed out!) we begin to see God do extraordinary things in our lives.

My greatest prayer lesson? Instead of asking, “Why, Lord?” I began asking “How, Lord?” “How are you going to work through this? How are you going to provide for me?” I have found that by simply changing the question, my doubt is replaced by the anticipation of seeing how God will work His way.

The Power of Praise

The Psalms have become a daily companion. I’m learning to praise God for who He is and thank Him for each and every situation. As I read the book of Psalms I am struck by David’s attitude of praise. He doesn’t always start that way but he always ends up there. David often begins by pouring out all his hurts and heartaches. Somewhere in the midst of gazing upon the Lord he begins to realize who God is. Then the praise begins.

A resource that has blessed my life immensely is a little book titled, 31 Days of Praise, by Ruth Myers. It literally provides 31 prayers of praise. I am learning that as I praise God I get my eyes off my situation and onto the solution which is my Lord. Psalm 50:23 says, “He who offers a sacrifice of praise honors me.”

Trials Transformed into Chariots

Hannah Whitall Smith, in her classic book, A Christian’s Secret to a Happy Life, said that trials are “God’s chariots sent to take the soul to its high place of triumph.” She encouraged, “When your trial comes, then, put it right into the will of God, and climb into that will as a child climbs into its mother’s arms. The baby carried in the chariot of its mother’s arms rides triumphantly through the hardest places, and does not even know they are hard. How much more are we who are carried in the chariot of the ‘arms of God!’”

I was reminded of this on the morning of my mastectomy. On the way to the operating room a rather tall and muscular orderly sang many of my favorite Christian hymns as he navigated my gurney through the hallways. I might have believed him to be an angel, but everyone seemed to know him! His voice and message were beautiful. I truly felt I was in God’s chariot all the way to surgery. I had climbed in, and my loving Father was reminding me of all His great promises as we rode on our way.

When we pray we have the opportunity to step into the chariot and experience a ride with our Savior. Even down rocky mountains at breathtaking speeds, we find Him faithful.

The Lonely Road

When physical suffering continues for a long period of time, the road can become quite lonely. We have an opportunity to uphold others as they suffer just like Aaron and Hur upheld Moses’ arms in the day of battle.

I had the privilege of working with 47 amazing women to put together a 90-day devotional for women facing cancer titled, Praying Through Cancer: Set Your Heart Free from Fear. Some experienced times when God seemed far away…even prayer warriors had difficulty praying. That’s when we especially need to come alongside and lift up our suffering friends. It might mean partnering with them in regular prayer. It may be through a prayer chain or email update that gives specific prayer concerns.

How can we support our friends in their battle? I have personally discovered there are several ways to unleash the power of prayer.

Take them to the One who is able to heal

I often picture myself carrying my friends to Jesus just as sick people were brought to Jesus in the Bible (Matthew 9:2-8, Mark 2:1-12). Hebrews 13:8 tells us that “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.” We have the privilege of asking the One who is able to heal to work on their behalf.

Thank God for being the Father of compassion, the God of all comfort

Thank God for His promise to pour out His comfort. “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God” (1 Corinthians 1:3-4).

Ask God to miraculously overcome any fear in their lives

One of the greatest battles in illness is the fear. We must constantly take captive our thoughts according to 2 Corinthians 10:4-5. I have often prayed Psalm 112 for myself and others. Ask God to enable your friend to “have no fear of bad news; that his heart will be steadfast trusting in the Lord. His heart will be secure, he will have no fear.”

Assist them in putting on their armor

Come against the devil’s schemes by walking through Ephesians (6:10-18) on behalf of another. Ask God to awaken their desire to put on their spiritual armor. Than prayerfully dress them with the belt of truth, the breastplate of righteousness and the shield of faith “with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one.” Ask God to be mighty in battle on their behalf.

Ask God to show His power in and through their lives

The Lord told Paul, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness” (2 Corinthians 12:9). Our bodies are “jars of clay” so that God has opportunity to show “that this all-surpassing power is from Him and not from us.” (2 Corinthians 4:7). Let us proclaim in prayer… “Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within [our friend]…” (Ephesians 3:20).

We can do battle in prayer for our friends and family who are suffering. You may have opportunity to partner with them in a tangible way. One woman I know has come alongside of a number of women to battle breast cancer in prayer with them. Another has become a patient advocate (in more ways than one!)…and a doctor pays her to do this! Before heading in this direction, reread the book of Job for a quick reminder of how not to do it.

The Apostle Paul had an interesting perspective on suffering. He said…

I want to know Christ…and the fellowship of his sufferings. (Philippians 3:10)

Fellowship? This is not a word I would place with suffering. But God’s ways are not man’s ways. As we experience suffering directly or walk through it with someone else, we have an opportunity to experience Christ in a unique and powerful way. We have God’s promise that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance; character; and character, hope. (Romans 5:4-5)

Resources:

www.prayingthroughcancer.com – the website for W Publishing’s newly released book, Praying Through Cancer: Set Your Heart Free from Fear, a 90-Day Devotional for Women, by Susan Sorensen and Laura Geist

www.RestMinistries.org – a ministry that serves people who live with chronic illness or pain and their families

www.CancerPatientAdvocate.com – a site with resources to equip people to encourage others dealing with cancer and serious illness. Includes information on starting a support group, becoming a patient advocate, combining faith and medicine.

www.hopeforcancer.org – Outreach of Hope is a ministry founded by former professional baseball player Dave Dravecky and his wife. It is designed to serve suffering people, particularly those dealing with cancer and amputation.

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Tuesday, August 18, 2009

A No-Plan Prayer Meeting

A No-Plan Prayer Meeting

I just returned from a three-day prayer summit where the only agenda was to seek and praise God. Three experienced prayer leaders led the event—but they did no advance planning. Imagine that! A prayer meeting for 75 pastors and prayer leaders with no outlines, prayer lists, handouts, pre-picked Scriptures, themes, or music, nothing!

Recipe for chaos? It might sound that way, but really, that’s not at all what happened. When the leaders gave the planning over to God, He seemed more than eager to take charge. Which is exactly what He did. He picked the themes for each session. He picked the Scriptures. He picked the songs. Each segment of our three-day prayer summit was powerful, meaningful, worshipful, and consistent to a particular theme or characteristic of God. And participation was pretty incredible. People could hardly wait their turns to interject their prayers and praises.

How’d it work? At the beginning of our time together, we asked God to make us all worship leaders. Then we started each segment with a spontaneously chosen song or Scripture and let the Holy Spirit take over. If, for example, someone led out with “I Could Sing of Your Love Forever,” we would then take turns praising God for His various expressions of love toward us. If someone worshiped God from Psalm 13: “I will sing to the LORD for he has been good to me” (vs. 6) we might then share spontaneous prayers praising God for the specific ways He had shown goodness to us. Get the idea?

I led some adventurous friends in a one-hour prayer meeting using a similar “un-plan” yesterday and it went great. God set the theme. God selected the Scriptures. God showed us who to intercede for who especially needed the mercies He’d led us to praise him for. And we came away refreshed and encouraged in the Lord.

I wish you could have joined us either yesterday, or last week. But you can check out a book by Pray! author Daniel Henderson in which he describes this style of Spirit-led, worship-fed prayer. It’s called Fresh Encounters: Experiencing Transformation through United Worship-Based Prayer. Or if you’re interested in learning more about prayer summits in general, go to: http://www.prayersummits.net/. Once you’ve experienced prayer in which God is the prayer leader, you’ll never think of corporate prayer the same way again.

Cynthia Bezek

Cynthia Bezek



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Thursday, August 13, 2009

Prayer Station @ the Beach


Cape beachgoers at holy crossroads

Falmouth selectmen have given permission to four area churches to set up a “prayer station” in the Old Silver Beach parking lot. The churches say they're just reaching out to people, but some beachgoers view the effort as a public affront.Cape Cod Times/Paul Blackmore

NORTH FALMOUTH — Sunshine, sand and surf are Beach 101 in town. Even weddings and an occasional sunrise service. But a prayer station in the beach parking lot?


Earlier this month, selectmen voted 4-0 to allow volunteers from four Upper Cape churches to set up a prayer station in the Old Silver Beach parking lot.


The "prayer station" only takes up one parking space — from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. every day this week — but the selectmen's decision doesn't sit well with some beachgoers. Staffed with volunteers from Heritage Christian Church in East Falmouth, First Baptist Church of Pocasset, Falmouth Church of the Nazarene and Bay Community Alliance Church in Buzzards Bay, no preaching or solicitation is allowed. The volunteers can only talk to those who approach them. Still, the board's decision has drawn the ire of some residents who feel that a line in the sand, separating church and state, has been crossed.

===>Click headline to access complete article . . .

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Monday, August 10, 2009

Spiritual Formation Meets Prayer Ministry

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>>>We gratefully post this chapter with permission from InterVarsity Press (you may link to this post but may not revise it in any way) ... The recent rise of spiritual formation must catch the attention of practical-minded prayer leaders and pragmatic-focused small group leaders - This book will help build those relationships. ===>Click headline to access information or to purchase this book.

book cover
Seeking God Together: An Introduction to Group Spiritual Direction
Chapter 9

Sharing the Journey Of Prayer
Rebecca was scheduled to present one evening in our spiritual direction group at church . She began by saying, "Tonight I want to talk about my prayer life ." Then she told us how it was changing, what she liked and didn't like about it, and the questions she had about her own ways of praying . The group listened, affirmed and asked questions to help her process her experience . She seemed encouraged . But in all honesty, it was one of those experiences of group spiritual direction where I wondered if anything had "happened ."

Reflecting back on the time, I realized that something astounding had happened: Rebecca had been given the opportunity to talk with several other people about prayer--one of the most intimate and mysterious experiences of life . As she talked about how she prayed, her prayer life became more real and more alive for her . She was no longer alone in this deeply personal part of her relationship with God . Furthermore, as she shared about her experiences in prayer and received the companionship of others, she opened herself to more of the companionship of God .

Prayer is Love
St . Augustine said the "true, whole prayer is nothing but love ." The subtitle of Richard Foster's book on prayer is Finding the Heart's True Home. Praying, then, is like coming home to a loving God . In my own life, I like to think of prayer as the experience of running into the arms of God, who is waiting for me just as the father waited for the prodigal son (Luke 15:11-24) . Michael Casey says that "prayer is not just dialogue; it is the first stage of surrender ." When I pray, I am surrendering myself to the love of God .

We often think of prayer as something we do or say . "I prayed," we tell our friends, "that God would heal [or help, or give me something] and God answered my prayers ." There is nothing wrong with praying that God will help us and heal us, but this description of prayer misses the point . It sounds like we're in charge, like we make something happen by praying . We give God instructions . This is not what prayer is really about . If, as Augustine said, prayer is nothing but love, then when we pray, we are allowing ourselves to be loved by God and we open ourselves to experience and to reflect that love in whatever way it's manifested . Prayer is not something we do to control life, just as love is not something we control . Love is something we receive and we give. Prayer, then, is a gift we receive from God that allows us to participate in the work of love which God is doing in our lives and in the world .

Spiritual direction is all about our relationship with God . Prayer is at the heart of that relationship . The more we can learn about prayer, the more equipped we'll be to companion others in their prayer experiences . In this chapter, then, we'll look at prayer in light of Scripture, our daily lives and our spiritual journey .

Prayer and Scripture
People who are experienced in prayer often notice that their prayers are deeply rooted in Scripture . When they pray, they pray Scripture .

Calvin Miller says that "the key in all of our Scripture praying is to let the Word become the mode of our transport . . . . When we are reading the Scripture, the border between Scripture and prayer becomes so thin that they meld into each other and we are united with God ." We do this when we read slowly, as in lectio divina . We do this when we stop our reading and muse on a truth we see in Scripture . We do this when we carry a verse or two in our minds and hearts throughout the day . And we do this when we use the words of Scripture to pray our own prayers .

I have found that praying the Scriptures is a very helpful way to express my inner desires when they are hidden by stress, defeat or anxiety . At one difficult time in my life, all I could do was pray the prayer of Job: "Though he slay me, yet will I hope in him" (Job 13:15 niv) . That may have been a little dramatic, but praying those words helped me hope . Another time Psalm 23:4 became my prayer: "Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death . . ." As I prayed this, the operative word for me was through . I prayed that God would lead me through the valley of the death of my expectations for my life at that time, that I would make it through the changes which were happening in my circumstances, and that God would sustain me and strengthen me to do what needed to be done as I walked through the valley . On more ordinary days, I often pray that God will "carry me" as God promised through the prophet Isaiah that he would carry the Israelites (Isaiah 46:3) . When Scripture becomes my prayer, I am drawn closer to God, the author of all truth .

When we meet together in group spiritual direction, Scripture provides a foundation for our conversations about prayer, whether this foundation is verbalized or not . Most of the time we'll just listen, and hear how others have prayed and experienced Scripture in their own lives . Occasionally, we may suggest something from Scripture ourselves, but we do this tentatively and lovingly . In a recent group experience, during one of the times of silence, words of Scripture came to my mind with unusual clarity . After the silence, I mentioned the words to the person presenting . But I didn't elaborate or pontificate on them . I just offered them to her . If those words turned out to be a way for her to pray about what she had presented, I'm grateful . I didn't need to give her my application of the truth of that Scripture . That's the job of the Holy Spirit, who gives us truth, in love, at the moment we can hear it .

Examining our Daily lives
Ignatius, who was known for his advice on discernment, suggested a discipline which can also be a form of prayer: the daily examen . This is not, as I first thought, a time to think and pray about all of our sins . It is, rather, a way to reflect on our day, in dialogue with God . After we take a minute or two to quiet our hearts and focus our attention, we think back over the last day or two . Then, in the presence of God, we notice the times when we felt the closest to our loving Father . These may be times when we felt joy or freedom or a deep sense of God's presence . They may even be times when we felt conviction--the conviction that comes with the invitation to return to God's love . Then we notice the times when we felt most distant from God, such as times when we felt anxious or discouraged or tied up in knots . In these moments we might have felt that the weight of the world, or at least our own lives, sat squarely on our own shoulders .

This is not a prayer of request or commentary . In this prayer experience, we simply notice . It is a prayer of relationship . It is sharing our day with the Holy Spirit of Love . After we pray this way, we may want to move into confession, petition or intercession . But first of all we look "with the eyes of [our] heart" (Ephesians 1:18) to see our lives as God sees them .

Some people have found that this prayer of examen is a good way to begin group spiritual direction . This is especially helpful in a setting where people are not used to thinking of God intersecting their lives in intimate ways . When the group gathers, allowing a brief time for this reflective prayer can be a good way to quiet down before the presenter begins . This can remain a personal experience, or it could lead to a time of brief sharing .

Prayer on the Journey
Prayer is an integral part of our spiritual journey . It is the essence of our communion with God . Sometimes our prayers are verbal, sometimes they're silent . Sometimes we can describe our prayer life, sometimes it's beyond description . Sometimes we seem to initiate our prayers, and sometimes it seems as though God speaks to us first .

Brendan, the Celtic pilgrim, was known for his seafaring journeys, undertaken out of spiritual longing and obedience . Calvin Miller wrote this about Brendan:
When the wind died and the sail hung limp, the men rowed, though they knew not where . Finally Brendan ordered the fatigued rowers to stop . He cried, "God is our helper . He is our navigator and helmsman, and he shall guide us . Pull in the oars and the rudder . Spread the sail and let God do as he wishes with his servants and their boat ."

Sometimes as we pray, we sense that the Spirit is inviting us to stop our hard rowing, pull in the oars and let God guide the boat . We need to let go . Letting go of our own agenda does not mean that it won't happen, or that it is necessarily contrary to the will of God . It just means that we stop trying so hard . We receive, rather than make something happen . We let God guide the boat . This sense of letting go is at the heart of prayer .

Thomas Keating, well known for his teaching and writing about prayer, suggests that there are three desires we need to let go of: our desire for control and power; our desire for affection, esteem and approval; and our desire for security and survival . In all honesty, when I read that list, my first response was, "That will never happen!" And many times since then, as I have prayed "I let go of my desire for control, affection and security," I find myself having this one-way conversation with God:
  • "Well, actually, I don't let go at all ."
  • "But I want to ."
  • "Well, I sort of want to ."
  • "God, help me want to ."
The experience of letting go, I have found, is not something for the faint-hearted in prayer . It is not something we learn once and then live out of ever-after . It is, rather, the syntax of our ongoing spiritual journey . Over and over again we remember that God invites us to let go . Jesus, the God of the universe, is in our boat. (Remember the story in Mark 4:35-41 .) When we pray, sometimes God invites us to pull in the oars, spread the sails and let God take us where he wills .

Silent Prayer
When we "pull in our oars," we may find that we have nothing else to say . This reflects the experience of Paul that he described in his letter to the church at Rome . He wrote that "the Spirit helps us in our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but that very Spirit intercedes with sighs too deep for words" (Romans 8:26) . I like to think that when I am silent in prayer, the Holy Spirit is interceding for me "according to the will of God" (Romans 8:27) .

In writing about silent prayer, Thomas Keating describes centering prayer, which is the experience of being intentionally silent before God . Keating suggests that when we pray in silence, we use no words, we do not dwell on any thoughts, and we do not follow the wanderings of our minds . It is, as he says, like taking a vacation from ourselves . Keating recommends that we intentionally do this for twenty minutes twice a day . Many people have found that this discipline deepens their relationship with God immensely .

Other people are helped just by remembering that silence, as well as words, can be prayer . "For God alone my soul waits in silence," the psalmist wrote (Psalm 62:1) . If prayer is nothing but love, then that love can be expressed silently or with words .

Spiritual Direction as Prayer
When we meet in group spiritual direction, we want to encourage each other to grow in whatever ways the Spirit leads us to pray . In some literature, spiritual direction is actually called prayer, since it's a coming together in the presence of one another to listen to God, and then, as we talk with one another and sit in times of silence, it offers time to talk to God . Walter Wangerin says that in prayer, we talk and God listens . Then God talks and we listen . In group direction, we talk and we listen .

This is what happened when Elizabeth presented in her group . She chose to talk about how sad she was that a close friend, Lynn, was moving away, and that she feared she was too attached to Lynn . Elizabeth talked and God listened . Elizabeth's friends, in whom the Spirit dwells, also listened . Then they entered a brief time of silence for members of the group to listen to God . After that the group listened again to Elizabeth and affirmed her love for Lynn . Members of the group observed that God loved Lynn even more than Elizabeth did . The response of the group completed the circle of prayer because through their support, God talked and Elizabeth listened . In this way, the group experience was indeed prayer .

Becoming Pray-ers
Early in our experience of parenting, my husband and I were drawn to a quote we saw on a seminary bulletin board: "The best thing a father can do for his children is to love their mother ." Even as young parents, we had an inkling that this was true . In a similar way, one of the best things we can do to become better spiritual companions of others is to seek to deepen our own prayer lives and relationship with God . As we grow closer and more in love with our heavenly Father, we are more inclined and better equipped to love God's children . In group spiritual direction, we can do this by offering to one another what Rebecca and Elizabeth's groups offered to them: against the background of our own love for God, we listen, support and reflect back what we hear as someone describes his or her own prayer life .

Because we ourselves are pray-ers, we know the many questions prayer brings and can include in our group spiritual direction conversations gentle and nonjudgmental questions about prayer such as
  • What is it like for you when you pray about this situation you're presenting?
  • How has prayer been helpful to you in the past?
  • What are some new ways you might like to experience God in prayer?
As with many of the questions we ask, the words are not as important as asking the question in an inviting, compassionate way .

Prayer in Group Spiritual Direction
Sometimes groups can offer to pray for the person presenting at the end of their presentation, but it's important to ask the presenter if that sounds like a good idea . Also, some people in the group may not feel comfortable praying out loud, so it might be good to suggest silent prayer, with the group leader closing either with the Lord's Prayer or a simple "Amen ." Alternately, one person could volunteer to pray on behalf of the whole group .

If your group chooses to pray aloud, remember that the purpose of prayer is to bring your friend's needs to God, not to talk to your friend about what he or she needs to do . I have been in groups where people have prayed, "God help this friend do [or believe, or think] such-and-such ." When that happens, prayer can sound a lot like preaching--which is not part of spiritual direction . But even with that precaution, prayer can be a truly meaningful group experience . Every group will need to come to their own way of praying .

In his book The Path of Celtic Prayer, Calvin Miller tells another story about Brendan that gives some hints for us in approaching prayer in group direction . In this particular story, the monks who were with Brendan on his sea journey saw land in the distance .

Then the monks were filled with joy and began to row as quickly as they could . When [Brendan] saw this, he said: "Don't row so hard, or you will exhaust yourselves . Is almighty God not the helmsman and captain of our ship? Do not strain yourselves, since he guides us where he will ."

This is a metaphor for me of what can happen on our prayer journey . We can have a prayer experience that seems like we have "arrived," or at least come to some milestone that is meaningful to us . It is, metaphorically, as though we are in a ship and we see land . Naturally, we want to row hard and take everyone with us! But once again, Brendan reminds me that it may be better to pull in the oars and let God guide us all .

In meeting together for group spiritual direction, we have agreed to get into the same boat . But the landscape we are heading toward, especially in prayer, will look a little different for all of us . The invitation we give to one another is to be in the boat together, but not necessarily to row harder and harder . Instead of rowing we are invited to pray, alone or together, and see where God guides us .


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