Friday, December 08, 2006

God is Real

Today at noon, I met with a curiosly intense group of friends to learn about prayer. I kept hearing over and over, "God answers prayer!" I hear so many stories of people discouraged about prayer. It often seems like this goofy exercise of speaking when no one is around. It feels so unproductive. (Not a good feeling for those of us addicted to "gaining the whole world" by the time we are 50.)

It was refreshing to hear these friends say, "Prayer is the one constant in my relationship with God. He answers. It is not always the answer I want, but He answers. He is not a genie in a bottle; however, He is alive. He is just as alive as the person next to me. When I pray I know that He is real. We pay high fees for solutions to all our problems while not taking advantage of our access to the great Counselor." I have to admit that one stung. You see I was feeling a little skeptical of the enthusiasm in the room even though last Sunday I preached on "Wonderful Counselor."

Even though I was a bit skeptical, I know these people. I know that they have been through the hardest of times. We talked about prayer during and after the death of child, 5 years of prayer requesting children, prayer during the cancer of a parent, prayer during a time of prolonged anxiety for no apparent reason, and prayer with children. And each of these people over time, some with struggle, and some with scars say, "God is real. I pray."

I realized that I need to be able to say for myself, "God is real." I need to be able to say that God is real today not just yesterday or fourteen years ago when such and such amazing answer to prayer came. I need to be able to say that God is real without making Him a genie in a bottle.

We closed our prayer session by praying for Sheree, my daughter the theater major at NYU. (Talk about someone curiously intense about praying.) About 3 weeks ago, she called and described one of those between a rock and hard place situations. Maybe in another blog she will give the whole story. Basically she made a decision not to go against her convictions during a group project. We talked on the phone, prayed for wisdom and decided she would present an alternative to the group. The outcome of this would have signifcant implications for the remainder of her time at NYU. Stephanie, her sister, and I called ten friends to start praying. Things weren't looking good this week. As soon as I left the prayer meeting, Sheree called. No kidding. She had just met with the group leader who had a complete change of heart, complimented Sheree for holding to her convictions (even though she didn't necessarily share them) and the group is going with the alternative plan saying, "we bet this has never been done at NYU."

God is real. I am convinced, not just because he answered my litte prayer, but because he answered the prayer of millions who have said we are longing, we are expecting, we are hoping for something more when Jesus came as baby--not a genie in a bottle!

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Why I need to pray with others.

Yesterday at 4:00pm I met with another group to learn about prayer and to pray. This was an all men's group. I was tired. I was distracted. I was discouraged. Over the course of the last two weeks, I had been short on sleep. I had been a part of several difficult conversations. I had received criticisms on several fronts.

All of the men said similar things about prayer--things like focus, quiets my soul from performance mode, relinquishment. One guy said of his motivation in prayer, "I must do something to quiet down so I can observe what is going on around me... so I can get out of these earth thoughts."

We took time to pray for the city, the church and each other. We each prayed for one other person in the group. Joe prayed for me last. As he began to pray everyone stood up and laid their hands on me. It wasn't planned. They didn't know what I was going through. My tears began to fall. I needed their help to get me out of my "earth thoughts". (James 5:13-19)

The rest of the evening I expereinced some of the peace I have heard others talk about the last two weeks. I desperately need others to pray with me. Do you?

May God give you a couple of friends to join you in a conversation with Him.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Why do you pray?

Why do you pray? I wasn't expecting to get the answer to this question as I met with another group of people from our church to hear what they have learned about prayer.

When I heard the following I thought, "Wow, I want that too!"

"My prayer life is like a love relationship with Jesus. You spend time with those you love. I want to be consistent because I want to know him as I know friends on the earth."

It was said simply and directly. It caught me by suprise. It made me think of James 3:23.

"...and the Scripture was fulfilled which says, 'And Abraham believed God, and it was reckoned to him as righteousness,' and he was called the friend of God."

I want to pray. I want to be a friend of God. Why do you pray?

Thursday, November 09, 2006

First Prayer Time

Last Friday at noon I gathered with my first group to learn and pray. There were 6 of us. Four women and two men. It seems like women tend to be more attracted not just to prayer but to talking about these kinds of things.

I was suprised about the passion people had in speaking about their experiences in prayer. One main idea became clear. People pray expecting God to give them peace. These people prayed and experienced God's peace. I find this difficult to talk about because it is so subjective. I wonder as a pastor if sometimes when I speak about God's peace if people are asking, "Can that really happen for me?" Apparently some are saying yes to that question.

Php 4:6,7

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Prayer Series

Last week, I began praying with small groups of people from our church. We talked about prayer and the things we've been learning. Wow!

I will be sharing some of their insights here.

Please add your thoughts.