Thursday, 31 May 2012

How do you pray?

When I was a child we always said the Lord's Prayer as part of assembly each morning. Much as I love this prayer I ended up in secondary school rhyming it off without ever thinking about the words. Many of the kids I grew up with hadn't even been taught it properly - just through listening to everyone saying it, so there were a few hilarious moments where people would say the weirdest things and think that it was right!
But the Lord's Prayer is so much more important than something to be said without feeling or heart. This is the prayer that our Lord taught His disciples, showing them the difference between true faith and a relationship with God and other religions based on repetition and acts.
The King James Version - which we learnt as children: (Matthew 6:9-13)
"Our Father which art in heaven,
Hallowed by thy name.
Thy kingdom come,
Thine will be done,
in earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our trespasses,
as we forgive those who trespass against us.
And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil:
For Thine is the kingdom,
the power and the glory,
for ever and ever.
Amen."
Even writing it out brings back memories of school! But it is so much more than that. It is a visual reminder of how important prayer is and how amazing God is to give us such an easy way to communicate with Him.
"Our Father who art in heaven,
Hallowed by thy name"
If we look at this - we need to start every prayer with God. He is an amazing God - much more amazing, awesome, wonderful, holy and special than our human minds and hearts can ever comprehend, yet He allows us to come into His presence with our words. And He listens to each and every one of them. How can we not praise and worship Him every time we come to Him - yet so often it is a quick 'please God...' or a 'will you...' prayer. He is our creator - the author and perfecter of our faith. We need to remember who we are dealing with and how much we need to respect Him while we pray.
That's not to say that I don't believe we are His children, and that He is our Father, but sometimes it's too easy to come to God like one of my children who just says 'mummy' twenty times a day without really thinking about it. He is our Father God and we need to respect Him and speak to Him respectively.

"Thy kingdom come,
Thine will be done,
in earth as it is in heaven."

As Christians we also have a visual reminder here that our goal is not to be of the world - but that our home and God's Kingdom is in heaven - and that we want His will to be done here on earth just as it is in His heavenly realm. Can you imagine how different our world would be if this were the case - and yet we can pray for this to become reality and as we shine and others see God through us, come to know and love Him as Saviour, then it actually does happen!! We may only be able to help one person at a time, but that's still one more person who's name is written in the Lamb's book of life.
"Give us this day our daily bread."
And He supplies all that we need. We're given the example of daily bread - but as we look through the Bible we can see that God really does care about each and everything that is happening to us and really does supply everything we need. As a 'missionary' in full-time work for God, I have countless stories or where God has met a need in an amazing way - from a box of groceries left on my doorstep, to someone making me a meal when I needed it most, to my husband's flights being paid for by a cheque for the exact amount coming through the letter-box. God is an amazing God and we need to remember to thank Him and give Him the glory for everything that He does.
"And forgive us our trespasses,
as we forgive those who trespass against us."

We also need to remember that we are sinners. God has given us salvation through His Son, but we need to remember to confess our sins and truly repent from them. And as verse 15 reminds us, we also need to forgive others who have wronged us if we are expecting God to forgive us. Are we right with others and God before we throw our requests at Him?
"And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil"

And we can ask Him for protection and deliverance as we go through our days. Every morning my husband goes through putting on the Armour of God with our family. We all stand and put on each item as we talk about how our day will go and how each item will help us be the best Christians we can be today. It is amazing to see my boys (who granted love all things battle and war-related) put on each item and stand tall as they go out into the world, safe in the knowledge that they have a God who is bigger than anything that will be thrown at them that day.
"For Thine is the kingdom,
the power and the glory,
for ever and ever.
Amen."

And finally - we need to turn it right back to God, giving Him the glory, the honour and recognising that all power is in His hands. He is the one we trust and rely on and He is the one who holds us in the palm of His hand - never to let us go.
Sorry this has turned out to be a long post - but there is such a lot in this prayer - and I've bearly scratched the surface. I love just sitting reading it and remembering that it was my Lord and Saviour who said these words and how much it meant to Him.
Tomorrow I'll be looking at an easy acrostic for praying that we use with the kids and a few more examples of how I pray. Hope this is helping you as much as it's helping me.
So until tomorrow... remember to

Tuesday, 29 May 2012

When do you pray?

My husband just came home from a trip to Poland where he was doing some sports ministry. While he was there, the leader of the organisation he works with challenged him to walk 5km every morning. When I heard this I was intrigued. My husband is relatively fit (he’s a football coach) and so has no need to walk health-wise.

But the answer was simple. He challenged him to walk 5km each morning to get away from everything and pray. Just pray. No head-phones with worship music; no chats with a friend. Walking alone to pray.

I love this idea in so much as it gives us time to be alone with God and pour out our thoughts and prayers to Him, but as I am a person who uses their hands a lot while she talks, I think I might get a few strange looks from passers-by!

For me, the main places that I pray are when I am doing something else. I pray when I’m in the car driving from one place to another. I pray when I’m standing at the kitchen sink peeling potatoes. I pray when I’m running a bath for my boys. I pray when I’m doing the school runs and waiting for the boys to come out to the car.

But for me the challenge is not getting time to pray. It’s finding a way to be still with God. Finding the time and patience to close myself in my room and wait on God. Talking to Him where He has my whole attention and nothing is waiting to be done. Spending time pouring my heart out and waiting in the silence for Him to speak in His still small voice.

I’ve never been a very patient person and I am very easily distracted so this is my greatest challenge and one I am intent on battling and beating! I long to be able to spend time with my God and King first thing in the morning, just being in His Holy Presence.

What’s your greatest challenge when it comes to prayer?

Wednesday, 23 May 2012

Waiting expectantly...

Listen to my cry for help, my King and my God,
    for I pray to no one but you.
Listen to my voice in the morning, Lord.
    Each morning I bring my requests to you and wait expectantly.
Psalm 5:2-3

How often do we wait expectantly - believing as we pray that God is going to answer those prayers and then wait on Him for the answers? In 'Facing the Giants' there is a story of two farmers who are both in desperate need of rain. They both spend time praying and asking God to send the rain, but only one of them then goes out into his fields and prepares them to recieve rain. Which farmer trusted God more? The one who prepared for rain... Have you been guilty of praying then sitting back and not preparing for the answer but thinking God will do it all for you? We need to wait expectantly - expecting God to answer and making sure we'll be ready when He does. God will send the rain... when He's ready.




Monday, 21 May 2012

5 Disciplines for developing a passion for prayer

We’ve been starting to look at prayer – through our look at Elizabeth George’s book ‘Life Management for Busy Women’. The five ‘disciplines’ that she gives us are:

·        MAKE A COMMITMENT – a good thing to do is actually write out a commitment to God – stating your desire to be more faithful in prayer and developing a passion for praying. If you fancy sharing yours then please do in the comments below!

·        REALISE THAT PRAYER IS NOT OPTIONAL – prayer is a command. Ephesians 6:18 says ‘Pray in the Spirit at all times and on every occasion. Stay alert and be persistent in your prayers for all believers everywhere.

·        REFUSE TO MISS A DAY - like the discipline we used when developing a passion for God’s Word, we need to make sure we commit to spending time in prayer and talking to God each and every day.

·         STUDY THE PRAYERS OF THE BIBLE – it really is amazing to look at the prayers throughout the Bible and to think about how, why, what and the results of the prayers. We can look at Ephesians 1:15-19, Ephesians 3:14-21 and Colossians 1:9-14 to start this.

·         STUDY THE PRAYERS OF THE SAINTS THROUGH THE AGES – an excellent example of someone to study would be Susanna Wesley. I also love to talk to older members of our congregation and hear how they pray, and the amazing ways God has answered their prayers over the years.

I love to hear people’s passion when they pray. It can move me to tears, to action and to praying myself. Prayer is such an interesting topic for me as it’s something I have always struggled with. I love to study the Bible, but sometimes I can do it as an academic exercise rather than a spiritual experience. Prayer, on the other hand, is a conversation with the King of Kings, and so I often end up bouncing from being extremely in awe to ranting about something that is wrong in my life, all in one prayer. I don’t want to ‘waste God’s time’  with my ramblings, but I also understand that God really is interested in everything I do, everything I am and everything that is happening to me – no matter how mundane I think it is. Getting the balance often is too much for me and I end up not spending anywhere near as much time praying as I should. I’m also not good at just being in God’s presence – not talking, not thinking about what’s for tea tonight, not distracted, just focusing on Him – so this is something I really want to commit to practising.
This week I want to look at how to pray, how important it is to pray with people as well as on your own, and how praying for others can make a huge difference in both your lives. I am so excited to be taking the time for this – I want to have a true passion for prayer and for God’s Word and really make this a focus for the rest of my life. And if you’re doing this journey along with me then I hope you get as much out of it as I am.

Until next time - remember to

Wednesday, 16 May 2012

Prayer is... a relationship

A couple of weeks ago my husband was away on a mission trip to Congo. During that trip he was staying in the back end of beyond, in one of the poorest villages in central Africa. They had no electricity - except for a generator which amazingly appeared one evening so that they could all watch the Chelsea/Bayern Munich match!! :) But for us this was a big challenge. You see my husband and I are always connected. No matter where in the world he has travelled (and he travels a lot!), he is always on the end of his phone - whether to call or text - he's always there when I need him. And in the 12 years that we've been married there hasn't been one day when I haven't been in contact with him - except for this trip. We are THAT couple that text each other all the time, or that are always together, or that text each other while in the same house when we have friends in - just to chat (and maybe flirt just a little!!). We are sickening, I admit, but we are always connected. This trip was hard - I got one text most days, but there were a couple of days when there was no contact at all.

My heart broke. I started to panic that something awful had happened to him, whilst trying to tell myself his phone had obviously lost charge. I felt as if part of me was missing. Even with my four boys - I felt alone.

This was all because my husband couldn't text me. All because I didn't have any contact with him and I couldn't chat to him. All because I felt I had no-body to share my day or talk through my worries with.

This experience brought home to me how important communication is within my marriage and my life. But how much more important is it for us to feel this way in our relationship with God? Prayer is talking to God. It is the way in which we express ourselves to the One who loves us much more than any one on this planet ever will. It is the way we express our love; our thankfulness; our repentance; our desire to please Him. And how often do we take it for granted and maybe come once every few days, or once a week as we sit in church on a Sunday?

I want us to really focus on why prayer is such a big part of our lives and our relationship with God. Over the next few days I will be delving into the Bible to look at prayer and to look at how talking to and with God can transform us beyond our wildest dreams. I want to challenge my view and challenge myself to take my prayer life to  the next level. I will also be looking at how amazing it is to prayer with and for others. Ever hear of '5 in focus'?? You will!!

But until then... remember to

Monday, 14 May 2012

Welcome!!

Welcome to the all new SHINE blog! I was writing some of the posts for last weeks Facebook page and wondered if they were a little long so thought I'd link it to this, so you can read at your leisure without blocking up your newsfeed.

'Shine like stars....'
Phil 2:15

The purpose of the page and this blog is to encourage you and help you to become the women of God that truly SHINE His light into this world. I hope you enjoy going on this journey with me, and please do email me if you have any questions or concerns. This isn't a professional site - I'm just a mother who loves God, loves chatting to my girls and who wants to encourage the women of God in all that we do in our daily lives. So do let me know what you think and of you have any ideas for the blog/page and what you'd like to see on here, so let me know!!

To start the season off, we're taking a look at Elizabeth George's book 'Life Management for Busy Women'. We went through the 10 disciplines that help us to develop a passion for God's Word and now we are looking at developing a passion for prayer. So this week we'll be taking a look at how important prayer is and how special it really is.

So for now...