Last week we kicked off a new series of blog posts called discipleship 101 where we are looking at different Christian disciplines. The point is to refine ourselves in these disciplines and see their importance in the every day life of a believer. Today, I’m (Bobby) going to talk about the discipline of prayer and meditation.
To understand, prayer is simply our communication with God. Meditation is our listening to God’s voice while we concentrate on scripture or something that has tuned our attention to God.
To be 100% honest with you, there was a time I could say that my prayer life stunk. I’m still not where I should be, but I feel like in the last few years I have made some healthy changes in this discipline and if you would say that about your prayer life too, then I hope this will help.
One of the key reasons I believe we don’t put more effort and energy into prayer is because deep down, we have a feeling that they’ll never work. They’ll never get to God, they’ll never be heard, and God is too busy to hear our prayer. It’s simply not true. We must make a resolve to pray long, pray hard, and pray through. When it comes to prayer, we must rise up into the atmosphere of expectation; an expectation that believes God is big enough to step in and answer our prayers in His way and His timing. Prayers fail when we fail to pray.
I found for myself, that if I sit down to pray at the end of my day or for long, consecutive times, my mind wanders. So I naturally thought I was no good at prayer and I would never be one of those “praying kinds of people.” I was just doing it wrong. For me, I pray best in short, focused settings and when I can fire off shotgun kinds of prayers. Now this doesn’t mean that I don’t ever sit and pray for long periods of time. This happens, but just not as much as the shorter, condensed, focused prayers. Paul said in 1 Thessalonians 5:17 to “pray without ceasing.” This simply means to be pray at a moments notice, always ready to talk with God. So this is exactly what I do a lot of times. While driving, in stores, while running, in worship, even in conversation with other people. Give it a try and see if it doesn’t help your more focused prayer times.
I love to meditate! I love it when I get a chance to shut up and listen to how God speaks to me. One thing that I’ve learned about meditation, especially when it comes to scripture, is that if I overload my mind, I won’t be able to meditate and hear as effectively. So for me, I have drastically cut down how much scripture I read during my bible reading times so I can meditate on one verse or one central theme. This helps me leave room for times when God shows me something in a book I’m reading or when He points something out in a song that grabs my attention. In meditation, I simply ask of the Lord one question, “Lord what do you want to show me?” Then I shut up and listen. The best meditation times for me is when I can shut off the noise and distractions around me and just ask the Lord, “Lord what do you want to show me in this?”
I want to challenge you to a few things this week in light of this:
1. If you have trouble with prayer, start praying in shorter, more focused settings throughout your day. Prayers don’t have to be long in time and words to be powerful
2. Meditate on a short passage or one verse of scripture and ask the Lord, “Lord what do you want to show me?”
A great book I highly recommend that you read is called Circle Maker by Mark Batterson. This will change the way you view prayer. It did mine.
We also preached a series of messages on prayer by the same name, called Circle Maker. You can find those here: August 19 – September 9th of 2012