So recently I’ve been accepting the unhappy truth about myself.  I am essentially a lazy and undisciplined person.  I have moments and bursts of discipline and purpose, but overall, I’d rather sit in a rocker with a good book and a cup of tea.  Interestingly enough, my husband and I chose reading through Richard Foster’s book, “Celebration of Discipline” as our gift to Jesus this past Christmas.  The gift is that we will read a chapter a month and focus on practicing that discipline.  There are 12.  This is a challenge for this very undisciplined person.  I always feel energized and compelled and not a little convicted while I read.  In the actual practice of the discipline, I feel exhausted most times and overwhelmed.  I’ve loved this book because Foster reinforces that these disciplines have to be learned and practiced.  We don’t start out good at them.  We don’t start out like a pro.  There should be a learning curve and we should start out small. The disciples asked Jesus, “Lord, teach us to pray” (Luke 11:1).   This is a relief to me!  It’s also provided no way out.  I can’t just say I’m not good at this and quit because it’s not my gift.  Guess what Gretchen, it’s hard for everyone and you have to practice!  

This month’s chapter is on prayer.  Prayer is something I always want to do better and more and I never seem to make the time to do. I struggle with being purposeful and consistent with prayer. I feel like I need to set aside significant amounts of time to do this and then when I do find some spare, quiet moments (extremely rare when raising children) I have so much trouble focusing my mind, keeping on track with what and who I’m praying about or for and frankly it feels like forever.  I find myself thinking about all the other things I need to get done and then feeling TERRIBLE about my lack of focus and demonstration of love for God.  My creator deserves more than this and so do the people and situations I’m committing to pray for!  Uhg! What can be done?!?!

Well, I’ve found some really great, practical and doable suggestions in Foster’s book.  For those of you who struggle like I do with prayer, maybe this will help a little.  I sure hope so.  I’m excited to get going on them and I don’t feel exhausted by these methods/ideas.   

  

1.)  For parents or anyone living with children:

“Your own children can and should be changed through your prayers.  Pray for them in the daytime with their participation; pray for them at night when they are asleep.  One delightful approach is to go into the bedroom and lightly place your hands on the sleeping child.  Ask Christ to flow through your hands healing every emotional trauma and hurt feeling your child experienced that day.  Fill him or her with the peace and joy of the Lord.”

Jeremy has done this since our boys were born, going in and praying over them briefly before he goes to sleep.  Neither of us had thought of the healing emotional trauma by laying our hands on them and asking Christ to flow through us.  I really loved this and have started doing it this week.  In the book Richard Foster states that we should “pray for others with an expectation that a change should and would occur” and that we can test this by watching to see if the requests we are praying for come to pass.  Mainly he is talking about intercession in prayer in this chapter, but also speaks of praying for guidance and heeding the feeling to pray for someone that rises up in your heart, that compulsion to intercede and the assurance of rightness.  All of these things make prayer for a situation or person an inner “yes” from God that what you pray on their behalf IS his will for them and WILL be brought to pass.   There will be times when, as we learn to hear God as we pray for His guidance that we will see our human desires got in the way.  It is those times we pray like Jesus in the garden, “Nevertheless, not my will, but thine, be done”. (Luke 22:42).  However, when we hear God and feel Him compelling us to pray for others, we can pray with the belief and knowledge that what we are praying is God’s will!  Prayer with authority from God.  Exciting thoughts!!!

 

2.)  One other quick and exciting thing we can do is called “Flash prayers” which is an idea developed by Frank Laubach.  “To see anybody will be to pray”.  Essentially we just shoot prayers at people we see as we pass!  Asking for the joy of the Lord in them, for Him to touch them and help them feel and see His love for them and want to come to Him, for peace in their day – any number of things!  I really like this.  It’s not time consuming, it’s quick and powerful.  If we were all doing this everyday as we moved through our life imagine how we would change our city!!!

 

3.) The last thought/method was one I really connected to; using your imagination to pray for a person and/or situation.  His quote, “Imagination often opens the door to faith”.  We are invited to picture the person, marriage or situation and envision it being repaired, healed or mended.  An example he provides is one of a broken marriage. You imagine the couple seeing each other again in a new light, coming home and being overwhelmed with love for each other, falling in love again, walking together hand in hand.  As you pray, picture them talking and sharing, caring more and more for each other’s needs.  He even says we can “construct a home for them, built of love and consideration and fill it with the peace of Christ”.   I was thinking how much easier it would to pray for someone if I had this “film reel” going in my head of what I was praying for the life of that person.

So while, I challenge myself on this, I challenge you too.  I’d love to hear your thoughts and suggestions on prayer.  I’d also love to hear what God does in your life and the life of those around you if you start implementing any of these methods of prayer!

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