Growing in God pt. 2 Prayer

So, there are so many different ways to approach prayer and I really think it is one of the harder things to do in the Christian walk. I’ve always prayed a lot to God but I didn’t really think about how I was doing it. Then, I had an assignment in my Christian Thought (Theology class) at college and the point of the assignment was to grow in one area, focus on it for a week, write about it, and continue to grow in that area. I feel like it is a good description of prayer… so I’ll just post my assignment. I feel like it will help you understand prayer more because it certainly helped me to deepen what I feel is an already strong relationship with God. The point is that you can never grow in God enough and I know that I just want to know God more and more. I want to know him more, I want to see his face, and I want him to be the most important part of all of me. Anyways, read on…

 

“I chose the area of prayer because I knew that this was something that I could definitely improve in. When I read this assignment for the very first time the Lord convicted me and I realized that I needed to improve how I pray. Honestly, I can pray well when I’m in a group but I find it quite a bit harder to pray when I am alone. When I understood that was the direction that God was pushing me in I wasn’t very surprised and I decided to obey his instructions to improve this area of my spiritual life.

The way I chose to respond to this assignment was in meekness and I started it with prayer of course! I decided that I was going to let God work whatever he wanted in my life that week and that I would make time for whatever God wanted me to do to bring about improvement in this area. I understood that I couldn’t do any of this on my own and I was only going to become closer to God in prayer if I let him teach me.  I also decided that I would pray for 10 minutes at least once every day. One of my goals for the week was that I was going to pray before I got into a mode of desperation. In the chapter, it pointed out that a lot of times we associate praying with desperation, and an example of that was the Hail Mary. The Hail Mary is a desperate heave to the end zone in hopes that a miracle should happen; therefore, I vowed to pray before I got to that point. That’s how I wanted to respond to this challenge.

            On the first day of the week, Monday, I decided to start my prayer out by just listening to God for two minutes and not saying anything. To tell the truth, I really didn’t hear anything from God for those first few minutes and so I moved on in the prayer. For the next few minutes or so I thanked God for all the blessings he has given me. My family, my friends, the fact that I can attend this great university and countless other things I have been blessed with. After that, I brought my prayer requests to God and explained to him what was on my heart. One of the specific ones was my grandmother because she had been admitted into the hospital because of severe dehydration the night before. I was very nervous because she is eighty years old and my mother said that she was pretty out of it that night. I prayed to God and asked him to heal her and make it so she could go back home. My grandpa was also harvesting apples so it was a prayer for him that he would be able to focus on the harvest and not worry about my grandma. I spent just a few minutes basking in the reassurance I felt that everything would be okay. Those are the moments where you don’t do anything at all and you just have to remember that he is God. He has control over everything and will put everything in its right place. So while it was a rough beginning I felt like the prayer time ended really well.

            On Tuesday, I decided to do it a different way and started out with my prayer requests. When my mom had talked to me earlier in the day it sounded like my grandma was doing a little better, but she still couldn’t walk around and was still feeling dehydrated. At this point, I felt like she was definitely doing better but I decided I would just pray for her that day and nothing else. The combination of praying on both Monday and Tuesday just really made me peaceful about the whole situation. If I hadn’t set this time to pray aside for this project I know that I would’ve felt a lot more stressed out but with the time I spent in prayer it brought about in me much more trust in God’s plan.

            With the last prayer session in mind, on Wednesday my goal was to really be able to listen to God speak to me during prayer. So once again, I started my prayer time just not saying anything and keeping my ears completely open to whatever God was trying to tell me. Thankfully, it went a lot better than it did on Monday! This time when I was listening God told me that I needed to continue to seek him and pursue him. I feel like I do a pretty good job of learning more about God and following him but I will admit that my fire for him was dying a little. I was just losing motivation to pursue him with all my heart and during that prayer I was convicted to surrender all of myself to him again. Not just parts of me, but all of me. This really taught me that prayer isn’t just about part of me or part of my struggles… prayer is about all of me. God cares about all my struggles and wants me to bring them to him. I needed to step out of the boat before I could walk on the water. Because of this, I have stopped holding things back from God and I have given them all to him.

            On Thursday, I continued to pray to God not only about my prayer requests and my praises, but for him to change me from the inside out. That was probably the biggest thing that impacted my life from this whole exercise. It taught me that I can and should pray for God to continue to change me every day. I have always been the one striving to change myself but after this exercise I have realized that God can do that as well. Yes, I should be striving after him and changing my character to be more like him but I can’t do it all on my own. I need God to change me and I need to pray for him to do it for me on a daily basis.

            Friday was a great day because I did my prayer time after I had finished school so I was much more relaxed. I was thanking God for the health that he gave my grandmother as she was able to go back home the night before. In addition, I was showing gratitude to God for helping me survive another week of school. I find that Fridays have next to no prayer requests and quite a few praises. God must like Fridays!!!

After doing this exercise for a week, I really felt like I learned a lot about prayer. I had never had a time where I singularly focused on prayer and after this time I knew that is was a great benefit for me. I learned that God will give you peace through prayer, that if I give everything that I am to God through prayer than I am not hampering God’s help, and I realized that I needed to keep praying for God to change me from the inside out. Also, I prayed before the times of desperation and it felt so good to do that. I know that I will keep all the lessons I learned in this exercise close to my heart.”     

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Growing in God (Part 1)

So I don’t know about you guys but right now I feel very weary. It’s been a draining semester and after a few tiring days I really feel like I’ve hit the wall.  Its days like this that I remember that I have the Lord my God on my side, and he will give me the strength I need to endure. I know who he has created me to be and I know that I am carrying out his will. Plus I’m being the person who he wants to be. However, the race doesn’t go to the swift; it goes to those who run the entire course. The essential point that I am going to approach in the next few blogs is growing in Christ. So how do we stay close to God and keep that center of peace?

The first part of staying close to God is reading your Bible in an intentional matter every day. Studying your Bible isn’t just reading it; it is searching deeper and deeper in the text to build a strong relationship with God. I can admit; it seems so hard sometimes to remember to read my Bible. Plus when I read it I am so tempted (and sometimes do) just skim through it really fast. The fact of the matter is that when I purposefully read through the Bible to get closer to Christ… it becomes more alive to me. The words that I read become more and more important to me and I become more and more impacted by them. I was reading through the Psalms a few days ago (They are amazing) and I just really felt the power of the words. This is what I read.

“May the glory of the Lord endure forever; may the Lord rejoice in his works… I will sing to the Lord all my life; I will sing praise to my God as long as I live. May my meditation be pleasing to him, as I rejoice in the Lord.” Proverbs 104:31, 33-34

Another passage that I just reread really inspires me (and many of you have read it) is Proverbs 3:5-6. “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.”

            If you just tread over those words really quickly then you won’t really pick up anything; however, if you really reflect on the significance of each word you realize how dynamic these passages are. Another way of studying the Bible is simply just to read through the passage and then stop and think about each individual verse one by one. As it says in Hebrews 4:12, “For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.” It isn’t a question of whether God’s Word will shape you; it’s a question of are you going to put in the effort to make that possible. Also, this needs to be done every day. It doesn’t have to be a whole lot of time, but enough that you actually understand what you are reading. On some days where you are really busy, it’s okay just to read straight through the passage. Ideally, you do want to have that time of reflection but sometimes it’s just not possible. I understand people are busy; however, I feel that if I have that time of reflection my busy days go so much better!

            Another thing is that while the Bible should be the overwhelming majority of the spiritual content you read, reading something else about Christianity at the same time is always a good idea as well. For example, right now I am reading a book many of you have gotten your hands on (and if you haven’t you really should) called “not a fan.” by Kyle Idleman. He is the pastor of the fifth largest church in America, but the size of his church doesn’t matter. The content that he has written in this book is absolutely amazing. It brings such great clarity to the Christian faith and it asks you rock-solid questions that make you think really hard about what you believe. I would highly suggest it to anybody… its purpose is, “Becoming a completely committed follower of Jesus” and it meets that expectation perfectly. There are so many other books you can read to build your faith and I would highly suggest it. These books give you another view in which you can build your faith. Some of the words from authors like C.S. Lewis, Max Lucado, Lee Strobel and others are grounded in the Gospel and bring about such great growth in your faith.

            In this series, I’m going to cover multiple areas of how you grow in faith but I really felt like reading the Bible and additional materials would be a great way to start. As I stated earlier, don’t just read the passage and then come away with nothing. Dive deep into the text, understand it, reflect on it and let it change your life. The Bible is truly dynamic; it is where we can read God’s direct message to you and me. Treat it that way 🙂 can’t wait to see where the series is going to go. Really excited to be hitting this topic 😀

 

P.S. Long-time readers… I probably haven’t spoken to you guys in forever haha! Life is going absolutely fantastic here at college. I am really busy but I’m having a great time and am really enjoying the people and events here. Thus why this blog is a little shorter than usual… I think I’m going to go shorter though. I feel like my previous writing was maybe a bit too long and with shorter posts it will keep your attention better. Plus my rambling will be kept to minimum lol. Anyways, hope life is going well for you guys!