At the beginning of the month, we set a challenge. It was to pray for one thing for one hour. A number of people took that challenge, and some have shared their experiences and reflections. Two of those people, Lisa and Sam, wrote a little account of their experience, and how God met with them. A few others have spoken to me directly.
So, what have we learned about ourselves, about God, and about prayer through this challenge? I just want to share a few simple reflections to spur us on a little.
The first reflection is simply that it’s very easy to find reasons not to pray. I want to be clear that there’s no compulsion on any of us to pray in the particular way this challenge called for. There’s no Bible verse that says ‘Thou shalt pray for one hour about one thing’—this isn’t a divine command, but a chance for us to step out a little and challenge ourselves to go a little deeper.
But we are all called to pray.
I loved what Sam said in his post a couple of weeks ago, and how he thought he might be able to wriggle out of praying because he was very focused on an upcoming speaking engagement:
I said to Dave “I’m really concentrating on preparation for GOFest” which I though was a fairly good excuse to get out of it, at least for this week. Unfortunately Dave countered my excuse by saying “Well you could pray about GOFest couldn’t you!”
I immediately realised that, yes I could and probably should and that Dave had skilfully out-manoeuvred me in conversation.
We’re never too busy to pray. In fact, and this is a little clichéd, we are often too busy not to pray. If something’s dominating our life and we feel too busy to pray, that’s the thing to pray about most.If something's dominating our life and we feel too busy to pray, that's the thing to pray about most. Click To Tweet
The power of prayer
We shouldn’t need reminding about this, but we so often do! Here’s the bottom line: prayer changes things. Charles Spurgeon described prayer like this:
Prayer is the slender nerve that moves the muscle of omnipotence.
In other words, our prayers may be small, but they have the power to bring God’s power and might into action in our lives and communities, and in the lives and communities of others. Prayer has power.
Lisa experienced that power because as she sought God He revealed Himself to her, not in a there-and-then deep spiritual encounter, but by a gentle, constant voice reminding her of things she needed to hold on to. Sam experienced that power, through a deep sense of peace about the situation he spent an hour bringing to God.
Prayer brings about healing, revival, breakthrough, hope, salvation, life and freedom. Prayer sets people free, ends wars, sees the lost found and the blind see. Prayer pulls us up out of settling for our own perspective, and lifts us into God’s realm.
Prayer changes things
The power of focus
If prayer was one part of the challenge, the other was focus. Again, I’m not saying that praying for just one thing is the ‘right’ way to pray. But it is one way. It is great to spend time praying around lots of different things, going as we feel led and bringing lots of situations before God.
But focus can be a powerful thing.
Most of us live hectic lives where we have lots of different pressures coming from lots of different angles. The art of choosing to dwell on just one thing, turning it over and looking at it in lots of different ways, is a great thing to master. We often want instancy and quick answers, but sometimes things take time. And attention. And focus.We often want instancy and quick answers, but sometimes things take time. And attention. And focus. Click To Tweet
In Sam’s story, it was at the end of that hour that he sensed God speaking something to him. It wasn’t instant. It was as he took time on just one important thing that he was able to break new ground and take a step forward.
So I’m not saying this is the only way to pray. Or even the best way to pray. But there are things we can apply here for lots of areas of our life. Prayer is powerful. Focus is good. And though our tendency is to find excuses not to do things, developing the discipline of choosing to is important. Let’s take that on, shall we?
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