Pray It!

prayPrayer is the key to so many facets of the Christian life that it is fair to say that we cannot overstate its importance.  Prayer is communication with our Holy God and is necessary for confession, renewal, intercession and aligning our heart and mind with that of our Heavenly Father.

Our growth as Christians and our maturity as a disciple of Jesus is completely dependent on the quality and quantity of our prayer time.  1 Thessalonians 5:17 says “Pray without ceasing” meaning prayer should be something that we turn and return to as we go about our daily lives.  Something as simple as a heartfelt “Thank you, Lord, for this beautiful day” or a sincere “Give me strength to get through this, Lord” works wonders for keeping us focused and in tune with our Father no matter what else is going on around us.

In the Process of Being a Christian I mentioned “developing spiritual ears” as a part of our growth.  These little constant prayers encourage and hasten the growth of our “spiritual ears”.  As we talk to God more frequently we get better at sensing the presence of the Holy Spirit and in understanding what God’s will for us is in each and every situation.

Praying also has the effect of bringing us into the presence of our Heavenly Father.  While in the presence of God we gain understanding of who He is and begin to learn more about His perfect character.  It is only when we have prayed our way into His presence that we truly understand how awesome and mighty He is and how much He loves and cares for us.

In God’s presence we cannot help but praise Him and give thanks and we also should not hesitate to be honest with Him about our trials and our shortcomings.  God knows us better than we know ourselves because He created us, so honesty in our prayer life is the only way that real communication can happen.  Without honesty in our prayers we are fooling ourselves and wasting our time.

We must open our hearts to God who wants to “supply all of our need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:19 NKJV) and is simply waiting for us to ask and be open to receiving the blessing.  The Lord wants us to realize that His ways are so much better than our ways and in learning dependence on Him we gain capability and become so much more than we could on our own.

Prayer, like any other discipline, is a learning process.  The ingredients are simple.  Sincerity, honesty, humility, submission and desire all play important parts.  We must sincerely talk to God without wavering.  We must be honest about ourselves and what we are praying about.  We must come before God with humility and in submission to His will and His purpose.  And we must desire to seek God with our whole heart because in doing so God promises that he will bless and reward us.  Matthew 6:33 speaks to this when it says “But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you”.

My desire is to commit to living Matthew 6:33.  Prayer is an essential part of seeking God and must be where we start and end if we are to be successful as children of God.  Let us pray for each other as we continue this journey together.

The Process of Being a Christian

walkingI hope and pray that everyone reading this is already a born again believer.  If not, take a few minutes and study what it means to be born again and then come back and read this post.

Once we are born again, how does “being a Christian” really work?  How do we live the Christian life on a daily basis and do as Matthew 5:15 says and give light to those around us?  Thankfully, the answer to those questions is not difficult or hidden but plainly given in God’s Word.

I mentioned in one of my last posts that I was preparing to teach a Sunday School lesson and was drawing inspiration from Colossians and it is there where we will now go to look at this process of being a Christian.  Specifically we will be looking at verses from parts of Chapters 2 and 3 and I will be using the New King James Version.  Here’s the first couple of verses we will be dealing with: “As you therefore have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him, rooted and built up in Him and established in the faith, as you have been taught, abounding in it with thanksgiving”  (Colossians 2:6-7 NKJV).

In Chapter 2 verse 6 Paul tells states “As you therefore have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him.”  This is the first step to the process.  How does one receive Jesus?  By grace through faith; that is the only way. Grace is God’s unmerited favor towards us.  So Paul is telling us that we must continue in our relationship to Christ in the same way that we started.  We can never move away or forget that we are redeemed by God’s grace through our faith in Him.  Every day we need to recall that it is only by God’s grace that we are saved and reaffirm our absolute faith and trust in Him.  Stating “God, I trust you” in your daily prayers and then living like it lays the foundation for the process.

Chapter 2 verse 7 continues this thought with Paul stating “rooted and built up in Him and established in the faith” which is what we just discussed in the paragraph above.  As a tree must have good roots to survive and grow so must we have a strong root of faith in Christ to go on to any other part of the process.  Without the strong roots you will not grow and you will not be happy or have peace as a Christian.

The next phrase in verse 7 says “as you have been taught, abounding in it with thanksgiving”. Without good teaching you cannot grow in the faith and the process will falter.  You need the instruction of Godly men and women who have gone before you in the faith and you need to study the Bible like it’s your lifeline because in actuality, it is.  Get involved with a local body of believers and attend your local church services as often as you can.  Get a Bible that’s easy to carry around and in a translation that’s easy for you to understand and read.  Look for a devotional book or Bible study guide that you can use in your daily prayer time and stick with it.  Once you are earnestly involved with this step then the praise and thanksgiving from the end of verse 7 will be completely natural to you and your light will start to shine for others to see.  This is step 2 in the process.

So far we’ve discussed preparation in steps 1 and 2 with the foundation being faith by grace and then instruction and learning on top of that foundation.  Now we move on to an action step.  Look at Colossians Chapter 3 verses 1 and 2.  It says “If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God.  Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth.”  Paul is telling us to actively focus on Godly pursuits, Godly thoughts and Godly actions.  This world will actively try to steal your focus and keep you distracted as you go about your daily life.  But if you have the foundation and teaching from steps 1 and 2 then you can begin to train your mind to focus on Godly things throughout each day.  This doesn’t mean that you are setting your daily responsibilities aside or that you are no longer to be fully in the world.  What it means is that as you are going to school or to work or wherever it is and as you are interacting with a lost world that you are doing it with a Godly mindset that is firmly planted in Him and therefore not easily shaken.

Once you begin to work on this Godly focus then you will begin to see and notice the things that Paul talks about in Colossians 3 verses 12 through 17.  Here Paul says “Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering;  bearing with one another, and forgiving one another, if anyone has a complaint against another; even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do.  But above all these things put on love, which is the bond of perfection. And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to which also you were called in one body; and be thankful.  Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.  And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.”

This is the culmination of the process.  Once you have faith then you can be taught.  Once you have been taught you can begin to focus.  And once you begin to focus then God can channel amazing things through you and He will reveal His will for your life to you.  You will experience love, joy and peace such as you have never known before and you will be in a position to help and teach other brothers and sisters in Christ and to give the best kind of hope to a lost world.

I can tell you personally that this process is a very recent discovery for me.  I’ve been a Christian for 32 years and for much of that time I’ve been lazy about learning and unfocused when it comes to my heart and my mind.  Satan has been only too glad to keep me distracted and looking in many wrong areas instead of towards the One I knew was right all along.  If you are reading this I pray it doesn’t take you 32 years to realize how simple the process really is and how easy God’s design for our growth really is.  Or if you’ve been a Christian for far longer than I have and realize that you’ve wasted much time, as I did, then praise the Lord because it’s never too late to start.  God is ready and waiting for you right now and He wants to bless your life.  I promise you, next to salvation, committing yourself to this process is the best decision you will ever make.