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Spiritual Disciplines For the Purpose of Godliness| Prayer | 3rd in Series

praying hands_opt

“Discipline yourself for the purpose of godliness” (1 Timothy 4:7b NASB)

Prayer is an expression of our heart, an outpouring of intimacy, a loving dialogue with the Father.The Word of God makes it clear we are to participate in prayer.

"Pray continually," (1 Thessalonians 5:17). "Prayer is a relationship...an expression of a Christian's unbroken relationship with the Father...if talking with and thinking of God can't be in the forefront of your mind, it should always be peeking over and ready to take the place of what you are concentrating on. So praying without ceasing means you never really stop conversing with God; you simply have frequent interruptions," (Don Whitney, Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life). According to the Barna Group's annual tracking survey of religious acitivities, those who self identified as Christians spent an average 8 minutes per day in prayer and more than 1/3 prayed only once per day. If this is true of most of us, there is much room to grow.

"Devote yourselves to prayer," (Colossians 4:2a). Spending time with the Lord in prayer should be a priority and yet the Barna Group found, "...Christians spend seven times as much time on entertainment as they do on spiritual activities." The less time we spend in prayer the weaker our inclination to do so becomes. We may begin to feel distant from God emotionally and spiritually, which further weakens our resolve to spend time with Him, leading us to fill in our time with other pursuits and distractions.

Prayer is much more than, "...a divine summons, [it is] also a royal invitation," (Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life). Prayer should not be viewed as an obligation but as an opportunity to come before the throne where the Lord desires to hear from us, is jealous for our time. As we seek to grow into a sharper image of Christ we can remind ourselves that Jesus needed to pray (Matthew 14:23, Luke 5:16). Maintaining a constant focus on Jesus, His nature and characteristics, what He endured on the cross, how God is revealed in Him, makes prayer and praise less difficult and more relational.

Practicing prayer can help us overcome perceived challenges we may associate with praying.10 Ways to Practice Prayer by Mary Margaret Collingsworth, offers practical applications for prayer practice. Incorporating the Bible into prayer can be an effective way to meditate on God's Word; revealing a deeper understanding of a particular passage. John Piper offers tips on praying through scripture, Tips for Praying the Word. Praying with others in your community group (TACC Life Group information), corporately in worship service, or at a monthly Evening of Prayer, helps us to witness how others pray and shows us the power of united prayer. Learning how other Christian cultures pray may encourage us in our prayer life. In the article 5 Things Romanian Believers Taught Me About Prayer, Trevin Wax shares his experience with how people in other parts of the world pray and praise. Ask someone who has been on the mission field out of our country about their prayer experiences. Attend "In the Garden" women's brunch. Speaker June Hetzel, Dean, School of Education at Biola, will unpack "Proper Purposes and Priorities in Prayer."

The following article by Joe Carter offers some interesting Biblical prayer information:

Do you know how many prayer are mentioned in the Bible (and how many were answered)? Here's the answer to that question and other things you should know about the prayer in the Bible...

Read the rest here: 9 Things You Should Know About Prayer in the Bible | The Gospel Coalition