How to Deepen Your Prayer Life (Part Two)

Last post, I began a discussion about how we can deepen our prayer life by using the model prayer Jesus has given us. In the Lord’s Prayer, there are 6 topics Jesus addresses as shown on the following diagram:

 

The Lord's Prayer

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

For those of you who feel this is too regimented, I totally understand. What I have found is that it gives some structure to my prayer life so that I am praying for the things that are on God’s heart–and yet it is also very much about relationship. It is certainly not a legalistic form letter to use when we pray. In fact, notice the center of the hexagon–“Prompting”. In each of the prayer areas, I encourage us to take time to listen to the Spirit’s leading as we are broadly focused on that particular area.

Last time, we talked about how we can begin with “Presence” and then “Praise”. The third section Jesus mentions is  “Purpose”–Your kingdom come, Your will be done.

The focus here is on praying for God’s kingdom to advance. The kingdom of God is the reign or rule of God. As you listen to the Lord, think of areas, situations, or people in which you would love to see the kingdom of God advance. Ask for His kingdom to come in that area. For instance, right now on my heart is a marriage that is struggling. I’m also thinking about my friends in the Middle East who are ministering in a very difficult circumstance. So I might spend some time praying for these situations, that God’s rule and influence would come into these situations. I usually pray for my family, for our church and church staff as well as any other issues or people God lays on my heart.

The fourth area Jesus mentions is “Provision–Give us this day our daily bread.”

In this section, we are focused on our own needs. Notice the significant transition that has taken place. The first three areas of the Lord’s prayer are focused on God–His presence, praise and purpose…which is a powerful reminder that our prayer life is to be about more than simply listing our needs. By beginning the way Jesus does, we are reminder that ultimately prayer is about us fitting into God’s agenda rather than trying to get Him to fit into ours. But once our hearts are tuned into Him, we can then focus on our own needs. Are there burdens you are carrying–worries about finances, strained relationships, physical difficulties? Then ask God to provide in those situations–healing, wisdom, grace. He is our loving Father and He cares about the things are on our hearts–even little things. Come to your Father and open your heart to Him.

How Do I Open My Heart To Christ Again?

Question: How do I open my heart to Christ again? I lost my way a long time ago and I want to find it again. I’m just not sure how.

When we lose our way and make choices we know are not pleasing to God, we instinctively conclude that God must be a million miles away, especially if we have continued in this path for a long time. It feels perfectly logical to assume that the path back to God must involve lots of hoops to jump through. But the gospel offers us a radically different perspective. Jesus once said “If anyone is thirsty let him come to me and drink….” John 7:37. Notice the only prerequisite Jesus requires: being thirsty. In other words, the way back to God is to simply admit to Jesus how spiritually thirsty you are. That’s it. He continually extends to us this invitation: In your thirst, come to Me.

The fact of the matter is, you are actually much closer to Jesus than you think you are. In the ministry of Jesus, there was one group of people He continually rebuked for being so far removed from his heart. It wasn’t the sinners who had lost their way. Rather, it was the religious leaders. The Pharisees. The good guys who were diligently trying to keep God’s law. They were convinced God was pleased with them because of their hard work and effort, because of how well they obeyed God’s law. But Jesus rebuked them for being truly lost. Their problem? They weren’t thirsty. They weren’t aware of how desperately they needed a Savior. They were trusting in their own goodness and as a result, they completely missed Jesus in the process. (See Luke 18:1-9 for an example)

Jesus died on the cross for sinners, for people who disobey and lose their way….which actually describes all of us at various points in our lives. We often choose self over God. The glorious news of the gospel is that our Savior is always available and is always inviting us to come to Him just as we are–failures, sins and all. He has not left us. He is waiting with open arms, longing to pour out His love and grace.

So my encouragement to you is quite simple: In your thirst, open your heart afresh to Jesus. Rest in His unconditional love for you. Let His Spirit fill you with His Presence and His peace. Realize that His purposes for your life are not thwarted. You are right on schedule. Jesus is with you…always. What an amazing Savior we have.

 [This post is a response to a question asked at www.believe.com in their Ask a Pastor section. I was asked to offer a response]