Hello – Praying with Intent

Readings for this week June 12 – 16
Click here for a pdf of this week’s readings

Booklet_Cover_-_front

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Day 1 – Wrestling With God

Silence, Stillness and Centering before God (2 minutes)

Scripture Reading – Exodus 32:7-14

Prayer isn’t always the nice, quiet and ordered affair we like to think it is. Sometimes it can be more like a wrestling match. Moses knew this well. Exodus 32 records one of the many times Moses and God wrestled over an issue.

The wrestling can arise for many different reasons. Sometimes it’s because we are struggling to articulate what we are praying about and how we want to pray about it. At other times, it can be because of our passion and drive in what we are praying about, and how heavy the burden on our heart for someone or something is. We will wrestle with God over the things that matter most to us, and to him. No matter how close to God we are, prayer does not always come easily, especially when what we are praying about is not easy or nice, or when what God is communicating to us is not easy to hear.

Prayer is a two-way conversation between God and us. Sometimes one might speak more than the other, but God and we are always involved. Prayer is also full of life. We struggle, trying to get a better hold on God, and also to allow him to get a better grip on us. Prayer comes from our need to share intimately with God, to communicate with him, to hear what he says, and even to have a say in his decisions.

Questions to Consider
Do we really change God’s mind when we pray or is he wanting us to come around to his point of view? How do we know whether we need to keep on wrestling in prayer, or instead say like Jesus ‘not my will but yours be done’?

Prayer
Lord God, help me to struggle better with you. In those times when I find it hard to grasp you and your will, give me strength to never let go. Amen.

Conclude with Silence (2 minutes)


Day 2 – Never Alone

Silence, Stillness and Centering before God (2 minutes)

Scripture Reading – Romans 8:26-27

We don’t always know exactly what to pray or how to pray. But God has not left us to struggle in prayer on our own. God is fully aware of our problems with prayer, so he gives us the Holy Spirit to help. The Spirit triggers things we need to pray about and helps us put our concerns into words. The gift of tongues is one way this can happen. When a person speaks in tongues they are using a language given by the Holy Spirit.

As well as being for personal prayer, these tongues are a gift to the community. When a message in tongues is interpreted we are all encouraged. And our dependence on someone else for the interpretation bonds the community together. Often the tongue is given to one person, the interpretation to another, and the application (“what do we do about it?”) to a third. Not only is this a safer way of doing things, but it builds trust, unity and togetherness in the community.

Whether we speak in tongues or not, God’s Spirit is there for all who seek his help to pray. We never have to rely on our ability to know what to say. God’s Spirit has been sent to comfort and guide us. All we need to do is ask for his help. Through his Spirit he shows us how willing he is to help us communicate with him and stay close to him.

Questions to Consider
Have there been times in the past when the groanings of the Spirit or a tongue or a word have been given to you? What happened? How was the body of Christ built up by this?

Prayer
Heavenly Father, I ask that you would speak to me today about the things you want me to keep on my heart, those groans and sighs and moves of your Spirit. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Conclude with Silence (2 minutes)


Day 3 – Seek the Peace of the City

Silence, Stillness and Centering before God (2 minutes)

Scripture Reading – Jeremiah 29:4-7

God’s word to his people was not a temporary one in this case. He didn’t tell them, “Settle here, but keep your bags ready at the door.” The actions he pushed his people to take were long-term actions, designed to show that they were there for a long stay. They were to take wives, have children, build houses, plant crops and fruit – and to seek the peace of the city.

Even though the people were in exile, one of the things God wanted his people to do was pray for the health and well-being of the city and to become fully engaged citizens in their new home. The people may still have been looking towards their far away home in Jerusalem, but now that they were here in this foreign land, surrounded by strange people, God wanted them – and this foreign city – to thrive.

We are to seek the peaceful flourishing of our homes and neighbourhoods and cities too. Our neighbourhoods are one of the foremost places where we live and engage and dwell next to others, where we join with others to foster community. Living in our sheltered little spots is not an option. Getting out and getting involved is what God wants his people to do, and praying for our homes and streets and neighbours and neighbourhoods is exactly what the people of God need to be doing if we are to take seriously his injunction to share his love with his world.

Questions to Consider
How are you seeking the peace of the city in what you do? How are you seeking it with others in your neighbourhood?

Prayer
Sovereign Lord, you have put me in a place, a home, a neighbourhood, with other people and other dreams. May I always seek the peace of the city and the joy and blessing of my neighbours. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Conclude with Silence (2 minutes)


Day 4 – Those Who Intercede

Silence, Stillness and Centering before God (2 minutes)

Scripture Reading – Exodus 17:8-16

Moses interceded for his people. While the Israelites were fighting the Amalekites, Moses was engaging in spiritual combat on the hill above the battle. He raised his hands and prayed over his people, over the battlefield, striving against the powers on behalf of his people. He even had to have others hold his arms up when he got too tired.

Prayer can never just be about the things that matter to us. It is certainly okay to pray for things that we need – God always encourages us to do that and to come to him with our needs – but we cannot only ever stay in a mode of prayer that is so heavily self-centred on our own needs and wants. As we mature and grow in God, and as we get closer to others, we begin to see what weighs on the hearts of God and of others. We are called to constantly and prayerfully intercede on behalf of others – on behalf of the whole world, God’s world. “If we truly love people, we will desire for them far more than it is within our power to give them, and this will lead us to prayer. Intercession is a way of loving others.” (Richard Foster, Prayer: Finding the Heart’s True Home, p.201).

Yet we are not left to intercede alone. In Romans 8:34 Paul says that it is “Christ Jesus who died, yes, who was raised, who is at the right hand of God, who indeed intercedes for us.” Jesus intercedes for us, helping us as we intercede for others.

Questions to Consider
Why is interceding for others so important? On what occasions did Jesus intercede for us? What does this tell us?

Prayer
Loving Father, thank you for never abandoning us and for never allowing us to abandon each other.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Conclude with Silence (2 minutes)


Day 5 – Even Our Enemies

Silence, Stillness and Centering before God (2 minutes)

Scripture Reading – Matthew 5:43-48

The world is full of enemies, people trying to hurt and kill us. Our way of life is under threat and we need to take stern measures in order to protect ourselves to keep our enemies at bay. They will not destroy us, but we will destroy them. This (sadly less and less of a) caricature is how many people today view the world, and the other people with whom they inhabit it: as enemies, or at least potential enemies; enemies until proven otherwise. It’s us and them and heaven help you if we put you in the ‘them’ camp. There is a shift in the world that sees boundary lines drawn thicker, harder and with less care paid to the potential consequences of doing so, as everyone seeks to defend to the death their little patch or to take someone else’s.

The kingdom of Jesus offers another way. Even if we do have enemies who are trying to hurt us and even if we know who and why, what does Jesus tell us to do? Pray for them. Love them. Bring them in your prayers before our heavenly Father. Jesus said even tax collectors love their mates! But we are to be different, we are to beseech God on behalf of all people, even our enemies. There is no one we should not be praying for, from family and friends, to neighbours, politicians, fellow countrymen and those from other countries, whoever they are and whatever their political, religious, sexual, cultural or ethnic identification. All people are God’s children and he desires that none should perish. We should desire that too and pray for all people.

Questions to Consider
Who are your enemies? How are you praying for them?

Prayer
Lord God, please help me pray for my enemies, as you are the one who can transform them into true children of yours. It is the transforming resurrection power of your Son that is the hope of the world – help me more deliberately seek to pray for this power to transform my enemies – and me. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Conclude with Silence (2 minutes)