Prayer Calendar: The Long and the Short of Prayer

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If you are looking for a prayer mentor, allow me to suggest Nehemiah as a candidate. I know he’s known for the rebuilding of Jerusalem and its walls, but if you overlook his prayer life, you’ll miss the secret of his success. He just didn’t know about prayer, he prayed.

I am not technologically savvy, functional but far from genius status. Even talking about it in the next few sentences will reveal just how limited I am, but bear with me. I am not on Twitter; I barely understand it. My main electronic communication tool is email. I know that in communicating today, less is best. Long emails might not even be read, let alone merit response. Twitter is limited to 140 characters.

In its most basic idea, prayer is communicating with God.

Our lives are so full and we have been so conditioned by culture and society to value brevity, I believe most of our praying has become “twitter-like.” Less is best.

Not that that’s inherently wrong. Nehemiah prayed in twitter prayers at times. “Then I prayed to the God of heaven, and I answered the king.” (2:4-5) That meets the twitter limit. But what if most of our praying is 140 characters or less? Is that a good thing?

Nehemiah also prayed long and deep, working up prayer sweat. “When I heard these things, I sat down and wept. For some days I mourned and fasted and prayed before the God of heaven.” (1:4) Nehemiah knew both the long and the short of prayer. His twitter prayers were outcomes of his long prayers not a replacement for them.

This is not about the length of our prayers but the character of our praying.

The short of prayer is more about need and asking God to do something. The long of prayer is more about relationship. Both happen, both are needed; but if one is to eclipse the other, let it be the long over the short.

Prayer Calendar: Team Prayer

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LDCat

Dave Acree is our Prayer and Spiritual Life Catalyst. This is a welcome to the monthly Prayer Calendar which we publish to promote prayer throughout the EFCC family. If you would like to receive the Prayer Calendar by e-mail, you can sign up for it on this page, or you can see the latest copy here.


Let’s get to the point right at the start. I have a “big ask” to make. Would you be willing to become part of a team praying for the EFCC, that we would fully enter into Revitalize, asking God to help us all become more and more a Gospel sharing people?

That’s the “ask”, now let me explain. I’ve become convinced that solo praying is not enough. It’s good, even important, but it minimizes the power of community. Right before Pentecost and after, the early church prayed in community. “They all joined together constantly in prayer.” (Acts 1:14) “They raised their voices together in prayer to God.” (Acts 4:24) We seldom do that today.

If you say “yes” to the challenge and “sign on” we will set up an electronic network joining us together across the EFCC through which we will pray regularly “together” for the EFCC to be “Revitalized!”

We will pray for your church and the churches of the EFCC. Read these passages: Matthew 22:37, 39; Acts 1:8; Philippians 2:14-16; Luke 10:2; and Colossians 4:3. We will pray for our churches that we will have love, power, character, harvesters and opportunities to share the good news of Jesus Christ.

We will pray for the people of our churches. Read Ephesians 6:19; Colossians 4:4-6; and
1 Peter 3:15-16. We will pray that our people will be bold, gentle and respectful in sharing the Gospel.

We will pray for your “neighbours”. We will pray together with you that God will reveal himself to them and be involved in their lives in such a way that they will recognize him. We will commit together to seek tangible ways in which to express Christ’s love with them. We will ask God for opportunities to share with them what Jesus means in our lives.

Now the hard part. If all of this resonates with you, email me at dave.acree@efreelethbridge.ca and join the team.

Prayer Calendar: Wordless Prayer

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LDCat

Dave Acree is our Prayer and Spiritual Life Catalyst. This is a welcome to the monthly Prayer Calendar which we publish to promote prayer throughout the EFCC family. If you would like to receive the Prayer Calendar by e-mail, you can sign up for it on this page, or you can see the latest copy here.


Who’s got your back? All of us need someone watching out for us, whatever our life circumstances. It is good to know there is someone paying attention, ready to step in and help when we are unable to handle what life is throwing at us. Sometimes friends, family, work or schoolmates, or others step up to fill that role. When it comes to prayer, they pray for us, but there are times when that is not enough.

That’s when “wordless prayer” comes into play.

Perhaps you have been involved in group prayer when an “unspoken request” is thrown into the mix. That’s when an individual asks for prayer for someone but can’t name the person or tell the specifics of the need. Perhaps they don’t have permission to ask or are afraid that stating the need might cross the line into gossip. So knowing that God knows, even though we do not, we pray a generic prayer without specific words. That’s not what we are talking about.

Have you noticed all the groaning going on in Romans 8? First, all of creation groans waiting for that time when it will be liberated from its decay and returned to the glory God intends it to have (v. 22). Then, we Christians groan waiting for God to bring us into the fullness of our salvation and to redeem these frail broken bodies of ours (v. 23). Neither we nor the creation can hardly wait!

The third groaning (vs. 26-27) is where the wordless prayer takes place. This happens when we are so overwhelmed that we are struck dumb. There are no words. We don’t know what to say, what to pray, what to ask for. We are not even sure at times what to expect from God.

That’s when the Holy Spirit intercedes for us through wordless groans. What’s that? I don’t know but when we can’t, the Holy Spirit can, and takes up our prayer challenge and does it better than we could ever hope to do. He knows God’s will and prays towards that end on our behalf.

So, when it comes to prayer, who’s got your back? The Holy Spirit does. There is a strange unexplainable comfort in that.

Prayer Calendar: Unselfish Prayer

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LDCat

Dave Acree is our Prayer and Spiritual Life Catalyst. This is a welcome to the monthly Prayer Calendar which we publish to promote prayer throughout the EFCC family. If you would like to receive the Prayer Calendar by e-mail, you can sign up for it on this page, or you can see the latest copy here.


If you took note of all your prayers in a given week and analyzed them, what would your prayer life look like? Would your praying be more God-focused, other-focused or self-focused?

Few of us want to be characterized as selfish, about anything. Think about it. “Selfish” is different from “self-focused.” The difference is in degree. If we are mostly focused on ourselves with little thought for others, we move towards selfishness.

With that in mind, what about your praying? Might you be a selfish pray-er? Are your prayers almost always focused on your own needs with little thought for God or others?

Let’s be clear, a call for unselfish prayer is not a call for selfless prayer. We are to bring our needs and requests to the Lord. Also, let’s be cautious about setting up a hierarchy of priorities; something like God first, others second, and me last. Realities of life and circumstances will often reveal the shortcomings of such a system.

I am calling all of us to unselfish prayer.

Here is what I mean. Two words sharing the letter “f” make up the word “selfish.” I am suggesting that we move away from a focus on “self” to a focus on “fish.” Remember what Jesus said to Peter and Andrew in Matthew 4:19. “Come, follow me, and I will show you how to fish for people.” (NLT) I am calling us to go fishing with our prayers, to pray people to Jesus.

Ask God to place some people on your heart. They can be neighbours, friends, family, anybody. Wait until you sense that God is pointing them out to you.

Begin to pray for them. Ask God to be present in their lives and to reveal himself to them. Never give up on them. Keep praying, expecting God to work in his timing.

Care for them. Love them; become involved in their lives where possible. Treat them as people you love not projects to be saved.

Share with them. Live Jesus before them and be ready to speak the Gospel when it’s time.

I currently have ten people that I pray for and involve myself in their lives. What about you? Any yet? As you would say in the children’s card game, “Go fish!”

 

Prayer Calendar: Prayer Enemy #1?

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LDCat

Dave Acree is our Prayer and Spiritual Life Catalyst. This is a welcome to the monthly Prayer Calendar which we publish to promote prayer throughout the EFCC family. If you would like to receive the Prayer Calendar by e-mail, you can sign up for it on this page, or you can see the latest copy here.


We Christians tend to chew up the word “busy” and spit it out as if it’s something evil. It leaves a bad taste in our mouths. In our moments of dissatisfaction with prayer, we often name busyness as the cause. In fact, we treat it as prayer enemy #1.

But is busyness getting a bum rap? Is it really the end-all of prayer problems? Is busyness the cause of prayerlessness?

Dallas Willard makes a distinction between being busy and being hurried as described by John Ortberg. (Soul Keeping, Zondervan, 2014, 134)

“Being busy is an outward condition, a condition of the body. It occurs when we have many things to do. Busy-ness is inevitable in modern culture. . . . There are limits to how much busy-ness we can tolerate, so we wisely find ways to slow down whenever we can. . . . Being hurried is an inner condition, a condition of the soul. It means to be so preoccupied with myself and my life that I am unable to be fully present with God, with myself, and with other people. I am unable to occupy this present moment.”

Being busy reminds me that I need God; being hurried causes me to be unavailable to God.

When I read the Gospels it seems fair to describe Jesus within his context as being a busy person. The externals of his life shaped his busyness. Yet he was never hurried. He was constantly in tune with the Father and intentionally set aside times to be fully present with him.

Procrastination is to put off intentionally and habitually the doing of something that should be done. Hurriedness expresses itself in procrastination. What happens on the inside not the outside makes the difference, causes the disconnection and confliction in our prayer lives, and keeps us from prayer.

Too busy to pray? No, too busy not to pray!