Friday, March 16, 2012

Prayer-Am I doing this right???

Every Sunday night a group of 20/30 somethings meet to develop our leadership skills and to get to know ourselves..others and most importantly God better. We wrapped up the first section about ourselves. I really enjoyed hearing others' testimonies and I even enjoyed talking about myself...selfish I know. The next step is getting to know God. I have to admit I thought this might get a bit boring. Again selfish. Then when we were handed the Westminster "shorter" Catechism, my fears were confirmed...until we started to dive in. I had no idea what this Westminster Catechism was. To me it sounded like something from long ago and had no relevancy for me today(there I go being selfish again).After going over a few of the first points in this Catechism..we somehow got into a debate on prayer. Really didn't know there was anything to debate...but let me tell you there were some very different views. Mind you I did not say one word during this debate...I know shocking! When I am not 100% certain about the subject being discussed I do not say anything. Which causes me not to say much at all...ever...because well I am not that smart. One girl in the class said that the "debate" was great and that we needed it...it causes us to look deeper into what we truly believe...something I have been working on. It is true...debate is great..not when it gets heated and ugly...but a civil debate on the truth is ok. But then I thought well what does God's Word say about prayer? There is only one side right? The right side? God's Word. I think maybe debate is the wrong term. It was just a difference in our own personal way we pray. Are you a specific prayer-er??? Are your prayers more general..less specific???

I came across this photo this week..that God wanted me to see..I am sure of:

The debate was about generalizing your prayer vs. being specific. I can see fault in both sides..but it was something I never really thought about. I took everything in..had no real stance on it...but it remained heavy on my heart. Was I praying wrong? For me..I pray both ways. Sometimes I just don't have the words..like the little girl above. Sometimes my prayer is simple.."Lord, do your thang!". God already knows what it is that we need or what we desire. That is what is so wonderful. I don't have to be specific if I do not know what it is I should pray. But if we remain in God's Word, as he tells us in John 15:7, "pray and it will be given to you". Does that mean that whatever we desire will be given to us? No, God knows our heart..he knows what is best and the outcome of the prayer may not be exactly what we pray for, but better. I think we can all attest to that as believers. So, now back to the other type of prayer...specific prayers. I immediately saw a danger in this for myself. If you are not praying in accordance to God's will, but out of your own selfish desires, I can see where we could get upset when the specific prayer is answered in a different way and we miss it or it is not answered at all. I think the underlying truth in this all is that if we are in God's word and not praying selfishly then it doesn't matter how general or specific our prayers are. AMEN!

I came across a series of podcasts from a pastor by the name of Jack Hibbs titled, "Suffering, Prayer and the Will of God". He touched on the subject of prayer. I really enjoyed what he had to say about those who pray for their own glory or to draw attention on themselves. He spoke of a woman who was sick. In James 5:13-18 it talks about those who are sick to call upon the elders and have them lay hands on them and they will be healed. This woman called upon the elders and she was not healed. One of the elders mentioned to her if it were possible if she was living in sin??? She was a little perturbed by that question and went home and continued to get sicker. She then realized that she had hate in her heart for another member of the church and had thought horrible thoughts about this woman for nearly 30 years. It had made her ill. She was living in sin. She confessed her sin to God and was healed. In the past I had a hard time with this...but I found the difference. There is sinning and then there is living in sin. We have a daily battle with sin...choosing to remain in that sin will cost us. I hesitate to even write about this because who am I to judge someone??? I believe that God gave this truth to me and it is in His word right there in James. "The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective"-James 5:16. Sometimes we are ill because of our sin...there I said it...God's word says it. The issue I had was though does it affect others in our lives...like our children...grandchildren...unfortunately yes. Generational sin is so huge! If you have not confessed those sins and made known those sins of the generational sins before you than you need to. Even if you do not sin those sins...make them known...walk away from any temptation that might bring you to that place of sin that has plagued your family.
I love this from restoringyourlife.org:
"How it works. When a person has sinned, that sin stands in need of being confessed. If the person doesn’t confess it, then his children must confess it in order to break the generational pattern. Like an “outstanding” debt, the person’s sin “hangs out there,” impacting his descendants, until it is addressed through confession and cleared away. We are not required to take responsibility for our ancestors’ sins, but we are to acknowledge and confess their sin. (We agree with God that they were wrong and that God was right.) God asks us to accept responsibility for our own sin and to repent and be humbled. Understand that the passing down of iniquity (sin) is just that – the passing down of iniquity (sin). My parents’ sin does not become my sin, until I have made the choice to sin myself in the same way."

 God loves you. He loves you so much that he disciplines you. Now that I have a child I understand this. Spankings are good. They are a consequence for our bad actions. They keep us from harm. They are a reminder. Know what you are dealing with as far as generational sins and ask God to guide you away from those evils. 

Ok...back to prayer:) Jack Hibbs also talks about the person who commands God when they are praying. Or wills something for someone. You are not God...stop trying to take His job away. He is able and can do all things. Father knows best. Take yourself out of it. Also, Jack warns about the person who treats prayer as an announcement of hopelessness. Again that prayer turns inward and the focus is on the person...woe is me type of prayer...and does not serve any good. There is also the person who prays and really is just gossiping.  I am sure you have heard the person when you are going around the circle say, "Please pray for Susie...she is having some difficulties with her marriage that she came to me about and just really needs prayer". Meanwhile Susie went to this "friend" seeking help and did not want her issues to be shared at the women's bible study for all to hear.

To sum it all up. When we are in God's word and His word abides in us then our prayers will be pleasing to him. Yield to God...make your requests known to Him and if you do not know what to pray at that time..that is ok..He is God He knows...He just wants to hear from His children.