Back To School - Writing

This is pure grace, that God tells us how we can speak with him and have fellowship with him!   Dietrich Bonhoeffer
      Have you ever been in one of those mid-afternoon meetings or classes, just after a larger-than-necessary lunch, where the temperature of the room was a tad on the warm side? Despite the caffeinated beverage in hand, your shoulders start to...
drop, your eyelids are heavy and you find yourself fidgeting your leg or tapping your pen just to stay awake! The truth is, many of us experience the same thing when we pray; we begin with the best of intentions, but in the midst of our prayers, we get distracted, our mind wanders, we find it boring and we even get lulled to sleep.

     If you have ever fallen asleep while praying, you are in good company. Consider what happened to the disciples while Jesus went to the garden of Gethsemane. While Jesus was gone, he asked his disciples to keep watch and pray. When he returned, he found them all asleep not once, but twice, and his disappointment was evident: “Then he returned to the disciples and found them asleep. He said to Peter, “Couldn’t you watch with me even one hour? Keep watch and pray, so that you will not give in to temptation. For the spirit is willing, but the body is weak!” (Matthew 26:40-41)

    So while Jesus understands our physical exhaustion and limitations, he also desires a vibrant, open, full connection with us that is anything but boring and only possible through prayer. Prayer is our time to connect with God on a one-on-one basis that awakens our spirit! Just like reading and writing go together in school, so does prayer and Bible reading for a connection to God.

     Our word for prayer is based on the Latin word that means to ask earnestly. For most of us, the asking part of praying feels pretty natural. You may have been told as a young child to ask God for what you want. Interestingly, the Jewish word for prayer is rooted in the word connection. That Hebrew word, TÄ•phillah, means a time of self-evaluation, self-judgment and introspection where you pray to acknowledge God’s will and purpose for your life. As Ben shared this weekend, prayer is not about getting something from God, but about connecting with God to move us upward, inward or outward.
  • Upward towards God’s true nature. He is holy, true and powerful.
  • Inward to our heart that is troubled, sad, upset, fearful, joyful, content, etc.
  • Outward to take action with God’s help.
    But, like the sleeping disciples, we may give up on prayer when we don’t feel successful. Or perhaps you’re not sure of the right words to use or feel strange asking for specific requests. Maybe you don’t feel instant responses to requests and feel disappointed or bored. Maybe you grew up believing prayers needed to be memorized and only recited before meals or bedtime.

     The great news is, when it comes to prayer, there are no rules. If you’re stressed at work, pray. If you’re confused when reading the Bible, pray. If you have difficult relationships you’re trying to navigate, pray. And if you want a deeper connection with God, pray. It’s easier said than done though, so let’s see how we can jumpstart or reinvigorate our connection to God with prayer.

THIS WEEK’S STUDY IS ABOUT HOW PRAYER IS OUR CONNECTION WITH GOD.

You Don’t Have to Have the Words

Big Point: Use Scripture to pray.

What seems to have been forgotten by some of today’s generation is that the Bible can also become the very prayer we need to pray.  – Judson Cornwall  

Praying the Scriptures 

     Our prayers can sometimes feel mundane, like a broken record repeating the same petitions of safety, good health and thankfulness for our family and friends. One way to breathe new life into our prayers and strengthen our relationship with God is through praying the Scriptures. To ‘pray the Scriptures’ simply means to take a section or verse as you read from the Bible and turn it into a prayer.

     As one author put it: “Your confidence in your prayers will be strengthened when you pray God’s Words. Praying the Scriptures allows you to use the words and emotions of the Bible to gain more confidence in your prayers.” This can easily be done with parts of the Bible that are already prayers of the author, like the Psalms, or the Lord’s Prayer in Matthew 6:9-13. Over time this practice can become natural and it turns our Bible reading into a conversation with God and gives us the words to pray.

     Another way to develop our prayer life is through writing. By writing out the passages as we read them in the Bible, or writing out our prayers, something happens deep within us. The Word of God goes from our minds to our hands and it can provoke thoughts that turn into prayer in a meaningful and personal way.
  
READ and THINK… What does the Bible say?
  1. Ben talked this weekend about how prayer should move us upward, inward and outward and challenged us to pray this portion of Psalm 25 this week. In this Psalm, King David writes about his confidence and hope in God’s love for him and while David writes about enemies, keep in mind that an enemy is anything that opposes God’s way of living.
Question: Can you pick out which of the verses are turned upward in prayer? Inward? Outward?

Psalm 25:1-10 (New Living Translation)
O Lord, I give my life to you.
I trust in you, my God!
Do not let me be disgraced,
or let my enemies rejoice in my defeat.
No one who trusts in you will ever be disgraced,
but disgrace comes to those who try to deceive others.
Show me the right path, O Lord;
point out the road for me to follow.
Lead me by your truth and teach me,
for you are the God who saves me.
All day long I put my hope in you.
Remember, O Lord, your compassion and unfailing love,
which you have shown from long ages past.
Do not remember the rebellious sins of my youth.
Remember me in the light of your unfailing love,
for you are merciful, O Lord.
The Lord is good and does what is right;
he shows the proper path to those who go astray.
He leads the humble in doing right,
teaching them his way.
10 The Lord leads with unfailing love and faithfulness
all who keep his covenant and obey his demands.

Answer:

LIVE… What will you do now?
While there is no right way to pray, this week’s LIO is filled with tips and practical how-to’s to help you get started or add to what you are already doing. Are you willing to participate in the “homework assignment” Ben gave, to pray through a Psalm every day for 30 days? List at least two reasons why you want to commit to doing this.

Let’s get started (you can use this method with any Psalm or portion of Psalm):
Step 1—Write out the Psalm, or portion of Psalm. For today, use Psalm 25:1-2.
Step 2— Say this portion of the Psalm out loud.
Step 3—Take a few minutes and read it again a few times.
Step 4—Answer the question: What feelings of praise come up for you? What confessions? What requests? List them below.

Praise:

Confession:

Requests:

Step 5—Turn it into your own words and then offer it as a prayer.

(Source: ChristianityToday.com)

PRAY… God, what do you want me to know and do?

Pray Psalm 25. Thank God for the words given to us in the Psalm and throughout Scripture that initiate and deepen the connection and relationship with Him. Pray that His Word would move you. 

Watch the Video
Digging Deeper with this week’s teaching pastor:

Click here to go deeper using the Life Group DVD by the teaching pastor {Cedar Creek's Ben Snyder} or view the message, including bonus discussion questions.

Thank you for reading today’s LivingItOut! 

We encourage you to take it one step further by participating in a Daily Bible Reading plan. There are thousands of individual reading plans available and there is ONE that is just right for you!  CLICK HERE to download a basic “Bible in a year” plan. 

Customizable reading plans available at Youversion.com or Biblegateway.com.
Jan Tanis
Jan Tanis

I'm Jan and I'm happy you stopped in. Please, leave a comment and follow along..

No comments:

Post a Comment