Saturday, December 13, 2008

Where to begin when you're a new Christian? pt. 3


Prayer: Deliberate, Consistent Communication

Prayer can be one of the most confusing aspects of the Christian walk, but it doesn't have to be. When I was younger, I prayed differently and found that I asked for an awful lot of "stuff" for myself. There is a lot of confusion in the Christian community with regard to prayer, especially when we are encouraged or taught to "claim" things such as wealth and comfort. Run, if you are ever encouraged from the pulpit to "Sow the financial seed of faith" so the pastor does not "lose" their anointing! This prosperity gospel is blasphemous! Remember that while here on earth, Jesus was a poor, homeless man. If you really examine the scriptures, acquiring wealth, jets, yachts, multiple homes, and the like are strangely absent from the scriptures. He didn't seek riches and neither should we.

Don't shun what the Lord gives to you, however, if you are consumed with the thought of how to get more and what your next purchase is going to be, you should examine your heart and make sure you are seeking first His kingdom (Matthew 6:33). Ask the typical American, "Are you well off financially?" and they are likely to reply that they are not. Due to the fact that America is geographically separated from most of the world, we do not realize that we are richer and more well off than 90% of the people in the world. Travel to a 3rd world country and you will see that you are richer than you believe yourself to be. I have seen poverty and while it does exist in pockets of America, on the whole our country does not have entire cities living out of cardboard boxes on streets covered with feces while children bathe and draw drinking water from a filthy contaminated stream. If you have clean, running water in your home and do not have to walk 5 miles one way with a water jug on your head, then you're rich. Let this thought sink in and don't forget it.

What does all this have to do with prayer, you ask? Simple: I hear far more Christians asking for God to give them the winning lottery number or to ease their financial situation instead of asking God what He would have them do to serve Him? It's not the other way around. It is the love of money that is the root of all evil, not money itself (1 Timothy 6:10). Make sure that you are not prostituting your heart to the wrong lover.

2) The second practice a new Christian should cultivate is developing a deliberate, consistent, Biblically correct prayer life.

Today's post will deal with possessing the proper attitude towards God when praying and tomorrow's post will demonstrate ways to keep track of what you are praying for.

There are far more brilliant theologians out there who can speak more eloquently than I. I am not even in their league nor do I claim to be. But, there are some principles that I have discovered that have helped me develop a satisfying prayer life.

Prayer is simply deliberate, consistent communication with God. You will bypass years of frustration and possible bitterness if you approach the Lord properly. I've known many Christians who have become imbittered when they didn't get what they thought they deserved from God. What they don't realize is that their perspective is wrong. God didn't give them what they did deserve: hell. Here is a simple acronym to help you remember the proper protocol for approaching the Lord:

ACTS

  • A- Adoration- comes from the Latin verb adoro which means "adore" or "exalt." It is used primarily as a form of exultation, as in the traditional hymn "Adoramus Te", in which we sing "How we adore thee Christ." Are you an enraptured lover of God? Express to God your love for Him. After all, He gave His life in the form of Jesus Christ for you.

  • C- Confession- confession is an ongoing process that is somewhat revelatory in nature. The more that I spend in the Word of God, the more I become aware of the principles I should be allowing to guide my life. When I come across something that I had as a habit and see that it is contrary to the Word of God, I confess that to God and repent.

  • T- Thanksgiving- Psalm 100:3 says, "Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name." There is a protocol for approaching a King or Queen and likewise there is a proper way to approach the Lord. Notice the verse demonstrates that we enter the gate first and draw closer by entering the courtyard, the inner fellowship of God. We have so much to be thankful for. Even if you have lost your job, had cancer, lost a child, or had a debilitating injury causing you to live daily in pain, all of which I have personally experienced, your thankfulness is never to be tied to your circumstance! You have been saved from hell! You enter His gates thankfully and you will soon be praising Him for all He has done for you. That one thought should be enough to remind you to be thankful in all circumstances.


  • S- Supplication- comes from the Latin verb supplicare which means, "to beg on one's knees." It is a formal, humble request for help from one in authority. It is interesting that the very word implies humility by the physical position one making supplication assumes on the knees. To "supplicate" also implies earnestness to the appeal or plea being made. Psalm 119:169-171 says, "May my cry come before you, O LORD; give me understanding according to your word. May my supplication come before you; deliver me according to your promise. May my lips overflow with praise, for you teach me your decrees."

Now, briefly revisiting the discussion before about the number of Christians who appear bent on consistently asking the Lord for their best life now here on earth or financial security, does the ACTS model reflect any of that?

You can ask God to supply your financial needs. It is not a sin. However, because God doesn't "jump" when you tell Him to does not mean that He is neglecting you. My husband and I had 2 house payments for 22 months from 2005-2007. Did God not care? Was He turning a deaf ear? No!! He took us through a process that refined us in ways we never dreamt possible brought about only through the fire of refining. He met our daily needs. We got to the point that we had to literally pray for our daily bread. He always supplied our need and we learned a whole new level of dependence on Him. My husband in particular shed the notion that he somehow sustained the family and learned that it was and always is God who sustains us. We would never trade that lesson or that season of our lives for anything!

Practice the proper approach to prayer and you will have the correct attitude when praying. Tomorrow I will share two ways to keep track of the things for which you are praying.

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