Dear Friends

This year, Let us pray!

This year, 2010, is the 2nd year of Vision4Life – the 3-year programme of the URC looking at the core-tools of the Christian trade with a view to deepening and enriching our Spiritual life and our effectiveness in our service of Jesus Christ:

Year I          the Holy Bible – our sacred writings – The Word of God written
Year II      prayer
Year III       sharing with others – evangelism

We all know that praying is an important part of our Christian Faith, but … how much time a day do we spend in prayer ? If we’re honest, do we even spend ½ an hour reading the Bible and praying? Do we even spend ½ an hour a week ?

This then is my challenge for the next 3 months – to every day spend at least some time reading the Bible and at least some time Praying.

Now some of you, might not think this very much of a challenge, but it is of course in no-way a restriction !  For example, you may read and reflect upon the Bible for a couple of hours and pray for an hour, or for even more! Indeed, Paul says we should pray without ceasing  (1 Thessalonians 5.17).

However, the first step is to get into the habit of daily prayer and daily reading the bible.

How long?  Start with a few minutes.  If you’re not constrained by time, spend longer – you’ll be amazed how quickly time goes by. But please make a commitment to every day spending at least some time reading the Bible – even if it’s just a couple of verses – and every day some time Praying – even if it’s just a few sentences and a brief moment being quiet recognising that you are in the presence of God.

It’d be good also to aim to spend a bit longer once or twice a week – say, ½ an hour. However, as a commitment at least some time – however short – every day.

In any relationship, if there’s no communication you will grow apart. And if we think about it, if we’re not prepared to spend a few minutes a day reading what God has given us and a few minutes a day spending time with God in prayer – what does that show us about where God comes in our priorities?!! No-where near first, but somewhere behind the adverts between two TV shows!

The problem is that everything – anything! – seems attractive or urgent when we plan to spend some time quietly with God. Why is this? We know that we should pray, but … we don’t feel like it.

This affects us all! (including myself!) – none of us prays as we should. This year we will be focussing on a number of aspects of prayer, but to begin with, I’d make 2 suggestions

Firstly, think about who it is we’re going to pray to. We’re not praying to a door-post, a picture, a teddy bear or ourselves – we’re praying to the Holy! Holy! Holy! Lord God Almighty! God in three Persons, blessed Trinity – and in a special way we’re praying to our Lord Jesus Christ – our Master, our Redeemer and our Friend.

Secondly, if we’re going to pray we must pray from the heart. The problem is that we know we should pray, but if we’re honest we often don’t really want to – our heart’s not in it! This incidentally shows us how far we are from God. If we don’t feel that we want to spend time with God in this life, what on earth makes us think we’re going to want to spend time with Him in the next?!!

However whatever prayer is, it must be honest! – and therefore if we don’t feel like praying we must admit it. In these  circumstances a good prayer is,

Lord! I’m sorry I so often don’t want to do Your will – Lord, make me willing…!
To continue by making the statement (which hopefully we can all agree to):
Lord I am willing to be made willing!
And then to pray some specifics. eg:
Lord! make me willing … to pray,
Lord! make me want to pray;
Lord! make me willing to read Your Word – Lord! make me want to read Your Word!
Lord! make me want to know You, spend time with You; to follow You; to work for You;
Lord! make me want to become Christ-like – loving and forgiving, caring and helpful;

Lord! make me willing to avoid … my bad (or sinful) habits [eg, complaining, eating too much, one-upmanship. …!]
Lord! make me willing to resist Evil and to ignore temptation;
Lord! make me want Your Kingdom to come and Your will to be done – not just generally on earth as it is in heaven – but, specifically in my life and in the lives of my family and friends;

Amen!

Is this not a prayer we can all make? If we think about it, is there anything in it we disagree with? The problem is that what we know we should do – if we think about it, what we really want to be like – is so often not what we’re in the mood for – our heart’s not like that. And that’s why we should pray for our hearts to be made willing – for I to be made willing.

It’s also good to pray,

By Your Spirit – for God gave us His Spirit to be with us and to help us to pray;
And, if our prayer isn’t specifically to Jesus, to pray,
In Jesus’ name! – He who came down to earth from heaven showing He cares for us and who died on the Cross for our sins – thereby justly offering us mercy and forgiveness – showing how much He loves us and what good grounds we have to put our trust in Him, to believe in Him and to serve Him

To pray the prayer above, is the work of a moment. We can pray much more – we should pray much more! but why, at least, don’t we pray the prayer above – every day this month. If we do, it won’t be long before we find that our prayer will have changed from,

Lord, make me willing to …
to:             Lord, make me more willing to …
to:             Lord, I really want to …  Lord help me, to …
and when we want – with our heart – to pray and read God’s Word
when we want – with our heart – for God’s will to be done and His Kingdom to come
when we want – with our heart – to be loving and caring and helpful
when we want – with our heart – to align our minds and lives to God’s will and to serve and honour our Master, the Lord Jesus Christ
when we find we’re Praying with our heart, By God’s Spirit, In the name of Jesus,
then …!

Watch this space!!!!