Spiritual Disciplines: Prayer

I am always wanting to improve my prayer life, but have found this aspect of Christian spirituality to be incredibly elusive.  I so admire those prayer warriors I know who, when they say they'll be praying for me, actually do bring my requests before the Lord.  Recently I have made a task list on my phone so when someone asks for prayer I immediately enter it there before I forget.  Then I pray for them right on the spot.  Whenever I add a new prayer, I see the old ones there and remember to pray for them too.  So far, it's a great system.  

Reading the chapter on prayer in Celebration of Discipline, Foster leads me to a greater depth of understanding in intercessory prayer.

Prayer is the central avenue God uses to transform us.

Crucial to the life of a growing Christian, daily transformation into the likeness of Christ must take precedence. Knowing this, prayer must be an essential aspect of my daily life.

The Bible pray-ers prayed as if their prayers could and would make an objective difference.

Do I believe this? Are my seemingly lackluster prayers as effective as those Bible pray-ers? Foster says that prayer is an exercise in which we will grow stronger the more we do it. Even if I feel weak in this discipline now doesn't mean my prayers don't reach the ears of the Father.

To understand that the work of prayer involves a learning process saves us from arrogantly dismissing it as false or unreal.

Learning can be painful. I just look at my ESL students and feel their humility and self-doubt as acutely as if I myself were in their place. How can we be arrogant in prayer when the learning process so blatantly brings us to our knees before the throne? We can know the work and power of prayer is real, since we feel the work of the Holy Spirit wash over us in those communion moments.

Our prayer is to be like a reflex action to God's prior initiative on the heart.

I really liked this statement. Like, a lot. Just think about that reflex action. Imagine you are at your yearly physical check-up and the doctor taps your knee. You barely miss him with your kick, your reflexive action. Now, imagine God is that doctor, and he's been tapping on your heart, prodding you to pray for so-and-so. All of a sudden your spirit kicks into action and, before you know it, you start interceding for that person. That's some neat imagery to consider, isn't it?

We must never wait until we feel like praying before we pray for others

This is what trips me up. Every time. Just like exercise, I often need to give myself a little nudge to get out there and just do it.

Let's encourage one another to 
Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. 
~1 Thessalonians 5:16-18


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