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Lorna Johnston /Wednesday, November 2, 2022

 

I was recently in a conversation with someone who had been asked, ‘Why do you pray since God already knows everything.’ They were a bit stymied how to answer even though they had a healthy practice of prayer and knew that it was important. As we chatted and I unpacked some of my understanding of why prayer needs to be a priority for ALL Christians, I realized that my thinking in this has grown a lot over the years!

Here’s some of what I understand about prayer:

Prayer is about relationship, not my list.

Imagine a coffee chat around a cozy table.

There are three people sitting at the table, but four chairs. The fourth chair is for you; you’re invited to the conversation. The three others at the table are God the Father, God the Son, and God the Spirit.

You are invited to join them! If you choose to join the conversation around the table, you likely won’t start by speaking, but rather by listening to the conversation that is already happening. Then as appropriate you will participate in the conversation—not with a long list of needs but in an interactive conversation as you listen and learn.

That’s the open invitation to each one of us … to boldly enter into the community of the Trinity through prayer.

Questions to consider:

  • How do you enter into God’s presence? Practice being still and listening.
  • How much time do you give for this relationship? Does the investment of time reflect the value of the relationship?

God listens to us!

Maybe its obvious, but it’s no less startling to realize that the God of the universe listens to us and takes into consideration our thoughts.

There are lots of conversations recorded between God and people—check out the one between Abraham and God in Genesis 18. But I want to focus on the conversation between Moses and God as recorded in Exodus 33:12-18. Put yourself in Moses’ place and imagine speaking to God like that!

Moses said to the Lord, “You have been telling me, ‘Lead these people,’ but you have not let me know whom you will send with me. You have said, ‘I know you by name and you have found favor with me.’ If you are pleased with me, teach me your ways so I may know you and continue to find favor with you. Remember that this nation is your people.”

The Lord replied, “My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.”

Then Moses said to him, “If your Presence does not go with us, do not send us up from here. How will anyone know that you are pleased with me and with your people unless you go with us? What else will distinguish me and your people from all the other people on the face of the earth?”

And the Lord said to Moses, “I will do the very thing you have asked, because I am pleased with you and I know you by name.”

Then Moses said, “Now show me your glory.”

Moses’ audacity in prayer encourages me; God’s response to his audacious requests encourages me even more! God listens to us!

Questions to consider:

  • What feels too audacious to ask God? Why? Is the possibility of an answer worth the risk of asking?

Somehow our prayers change things

It’s a mystery how it happens, but scripture and our own experiences demonstrate the truth that our prayers change things. Revelation 8:3-5 (my emphasis) reads:

Another angel, who had a golden censer, came and stood at the altar. He was given much incense to offer, with the prayers of all God’s people, on the golden altar in front of the throne. The smoke of the incense, together with the prayers of God’s people, went up before God from the angel’s hand. Then the angel took the censer, filled it with fire from the altar, and hurled it on the earth; and there came peals of thunder, rumblings, flashes of lightning and an earthquake.

Somehow our prayers are mingled with incense and burned on the altar in God’s presence. As they are rising, fire from that same altar is intervening on earth.

Questions to consider:

  • How will the prayers that you are offering up to God impact the way the world looks in the next few weeks?
  • Is what you’re praying for aligned with God’s priorities?

We are transformed by the conversation

Any encounter with God is transformative.

As we enter into the intimacy of prayer, we cannot help but be changed.

Questions to consider:

  • Are you ready to grow in prayer?
  • Would you like to meet with others to learn how to pray?

If you know how to connect with a group growing in prayer, go for it!

But if you want some coaching or to get connected to a community that’s practising growing in prayer, reach out to Marcus & Debbie. They lead the Transform Prayer Course and are ready to connect with you on your journey. You can email them at marcus.verbrugge@gmail.com or deb.verbrugge@gmail.com.

If you’re not quite ready to commit to a community of practice, then let me point you to some great resources. In the ‘Digging Deeper’ section of the Simply Mobilizing Canada website we have a list of ideas & resources for growing in prayer. Check it out and try some new ideas to move deeper in prayer. As well, in our Blog section we have a series of blogs about growing in prayer. Read and chew on these stories to inspire your prayers.

And finally, let me encourage you to pray with others. Nothing grows depth and consistency like praying in community.

My husband and I have been hosting a prayer meeting focused on a least-reached people group for over 20 years. Part of what has kept us going is the act of meeting with others. Even when life is busy and schedules are complicated, knowing that there are 10 other people ready to pray with us keeps us going.

If you don’t know of a group to pray with then I encourage you to join one of the online groups praying for Muslims in Canada. Contact cboersma@outreach.ca to get a link to the online prayer groups held the last Friday of each month.

Invest in the journey of prayer. You and the world will never be the same!


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Lorna Johnston is the Diaspora Ministries Leader at Outreach Canada. She leads two national teams--Simply Mobilizing Canada (SMC) and Loving Muslims Together (LMT). She works with teams of diverse and experienced leaders and ministries across Canada to alert and activate the church in Canada to the changing opportunities to engage God's mission right here in Canada.



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