Why Do We Pray Together?

The simplest answer I have for that is, “I pray because Jesus prayed”.

That wasn’t always my answer.   When I was a child I would have said, “I pray because I’ll get a stomachache if I don’t pray before I eat.” (Not the kind of parenting I would recommend, by the way).

Later on, “I pray because everyone else is.”

Sometimes I’ve said, “I pray to get what I want; to make a deal with God.”

Other times my answer was, “I pray when I’m scared and desperate.”

All of those other reasons for praying don’t ring true.  Prayer isn’t a tool to get God’s attention.  Prayer is meant to be an intimate conversation.   Jesus knew His Father intimately and He prayed.  I want to know my heavenly Father too, so I pray.

Notice with me how Jesus prayed.  This story is in Mark 6 and let me just sum up what’s been doing on this day. This is the day Jesus hears the news that his cousin, John the Baptist has been beheaded.  He tries to go away with His disciples to mourn this loss, but the crowds follow him.  That crowd becomes the group of 5000 men that Jesus feeds with 5 loaves and 2 fishes.  So, it’s been a long, exhausting day for Jesus – physically, emotionally, and spiritually.

 Verse 45 picks up the story …

“And immediately He made His disciples get into the boat to go ahead of him to the other side to Bethsaida, while He Himself was sending the multitude away.  And after bidding them farewell, He departed to the mountain to pray.  And when it was evening, the boat was in the midst of the sea, and He was alone on the land.   And seeing them straining at the oars, for the wind was against them, at about the fourth watch of the night (3-6 a.m.), He came to them, walking on the sea; and He intended to pass by them.  But when they saw Him walking on the sea, they supposed that it was a ghost, and cried out; for they saw Him and were frightened.  But immediately He spoke with them and said to them, ‘Take courage; it is I, do not be afraid.’  And He got into the boat with them, and the wind stopped; and they were greatly astonished, for they had not gained any insight from the incident of the loaves, but their heart was hardened.”

 Do you see Jesus alone on that mountain in prayer?  The sun has set on an excruciating day and He knows this is where He needs to be with His Father.  I wonder if He’s relieved that the disciples are gone.  I know He’s glad for the crowds to be gone.  As He prays He sees something … not with His human eyes because it’s pitch dark by now and the disciples are far away in the middle of the sea.  But with His spiritual sight Jesus sees His friends struggling – straining to row against the wind. 

So He makes Himself available to them.   But “He intended to pass by them”.  He would not climb on board unless they invited Him.  He would not enter their struggle until they asked for His help.

What’s their response?

“When they saw Him walking on the sea, they supposed that it was a ghost, and cried out; for they saw Him and were frightened.”

When the disciples were frightened, then they prayed.  Not before they headed out after a long day.  Not when they were struggling at the oars, trying to do it by themselves.  Not when they saw Jesus as Himself.  They cried out when they were afraid He was something else.

Even that prayer was answered.  Jesus calmed them first, and then He stepped into their boat and calmed the sea.

I notice a contrast here: the reason Jesus prayed was much different from the reason the disciples prayed, don’t you think?

Jesus prayed because He longed for time with His Father, especially after struggling through a difficult earth-day.  Yes, Jesus was God but He lived in the flesh too and His body got tired and His heart ached just like yours and mine.  Jesus prayed, I believe, in gratitude for His day as well.  He understood the miracles of healing and feeding and He wanted to talk to His Father about that – to share the joy with Someone who understood.

The disciples prayed in desperation, not out of faith or an intimate understanding of God, but really in spite of it.  Remember that last verse?

they were greatly astonished (at the calming of the storm), for they had not gained any insight from the incident of the loaves, but their heart was hardened.”

If they had understood what Jesus was doing all along – the miracle of healing and feeding the 5000 — their hearts would NOT have been hard.  They would have seen Jesus coming to them.

I pray because Jesus prayed.  I do want my prayers to reflect my faith and love of the Father.  I want to live grateful for the wonder of each day and notice God at work around me.

 But I will admit that much of the time I pray like those disciples on the water:            

desperate,

afraid,

trying to do it on my own,

missing Jesus passing by.

What makes the difference?  My heart.  When my heart is open to God and trusting Him I want to be with Him in prayer just like Jesus wanted to be with His Father.

When my heart is hard and closed off to God, I struggle.

But know this with me today … Even when I’m struggling Jesus is praying.   Now.  Today.  Jesus is praying for you and me just like He prayed for those disciples on the water. 

When my grandmother died a few years ago I remember feeling a great loss for her as a prayer warrior in my life.  I knew that she had prayed for me every day of my life until her life ended.  I wondered who would step in the gap and pray for me until I realized that Jesus Himself is praying for me all the time.  There’s no prayer gap.  Heb. 7:25 says Jesus “is able to save forever those who draw near to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them.”

Some of us are on the mountain of solitude in life praising God and some of us are rowing like crazy on the rough waters.  We’ll encourage each other as we come together in prayer groups to pray because Jesus prayed. 

 Today in your prayer groups you’re going to learn to look Upward to God first when you pray.  That’s what Jesus did.  Get to know God better with the women in your group. Give it a chance and open up your heart to God.

 Heavenly Father,

Thank you for being a God who sees us on the rough waters of life as well as the quiet mountains.

Thank you for Jesus who is our example and the story of the disciples who offer us hope in our own weak moments.

Bless us with your Presence as we pray together.  May Your Spirit lead and teach us together each time we meet.

Amen

Why Worship?

Good question.  Why do we carve out time and protect part of our busy Tuesday mornings for our group to gather in one place and sing?  I’ve asked our new Worship Team leader to share her thoughts on worship.  Here’s what Laura had to say …

*It’s all about Jesus*

Focusing our moments together—

because we have Him in common.

Together…with the same LIFE LOVE – Jesus

the same Savior

the same, yet individually different

 JOY of knowing HE LOVES me/us/you—

and CELEBRATING that! 

With song, with resources, with words of thanks,

adoration,

    admiration,

       praise,

          value,

              agreement,

                 confession.

Sharing with each other the SMILE He puts in our heart and on our face! 

What delight we can bring. 

This doesn’t really have anything to do with having “solo-quality” voices,

a full band, the newest compositions or recordings,

perfect sound settings; a wallet full of money;

all elements of my life “just so”—the ideal personal weight and eating discipline;

the laundry done or kitchen clean; make-up & a cute outfit on.

It’s not about age, marital, social or spiritual status.

Something really special happens when people come together

because of a common LOVE!

All we are,

All we have

All to Him with joy … this is worship.

9 a.m. next Tuesday in the Coffee House.  I’m IN for this kind of worship.  Won’t you join us too?

Fall 2010 Begins

A new year of Titus Women classes began yesterday!

This new year has us gathering in a new place, the Coffee house, with a new theme to encourage us to Thrive!

To thrive means to prosper and flourish; it’s filled with meaning about growing and being fruitful.  And that growth starts somewhere.  God plants a seed of faith and it sprouts with life.  

Consider this from Psalm 92:13:

“Planted in the house of the Lord, they thrive in the courtyards of our God.”

As we come together each week, we’re planted in the house of the Lord.  NOT because we’re in a place of worship, but because God, the One we worship, is here.

How do I know God is here?  Because His women are here and God’s Spirit lives and works inside of his precious daughters.

It’s been our prayer as leaders that you would know, without a doubt, that you’re planted among God’s women every Tuesday when you come.  Last week we met together and prayed for each of you joining us. 

We prayed that you would overcome fear, busyness, past disappointments and present distractions to feel the freedom to come.

We prayed for you to be planted among this group of women because we plan to “thrive in the courtyards of our God” this year.

We plan to learn and grow together by sharing our stories of God’s goodness in our struggles as well as in our triumphs. 

We plan to challenge one another to seek God first through His Word, in times of honest worship, and by learning to pray together.

What I want you to take home today is the idea that God’s loving hands have carefully planted you HERE so you can Thrive!

From Our Titus Class Teachers …

As a ministry, Titus Women is committed to leading women in three areas – training in God’s Word, learning what worship means, discovering the importance of prayer.  So, we’ve designed a class to focus on those areas and put feet to our faith in living them out in the daily moments of life.  3 different teachers will lead us, here’s what they’re saying:

Lisa Bash

I’m a wife and mother and am teaching in the Titus class on Prayer.   To be honest, prayer was a wrestling match for several years of my journey.   I wrestled with God trying to explain to Him why He should give me what I wanted.  The problem with that method is as obvious as looking at the previous sentence.  It was always filled with ‘I’ and ‘me’. 

Then, God gave me a great gift. 

His Spirit began teaching me what His word said about prayer.   He taught me about abiding with Him, and what faith was.   He also put on my heart how important listening and obeying were, and how all of these things work together to make prayer life rich and rewarding.   

The Prayer portion of this class will be talking about how to look upward, inward and outward in prayer in a way that is as unique to you as you are to Jesus!!!

Sara Eyster

My name is Sara Eyster.  Bill and I have been members at LBC since 1993.  We have been married 20 years this month and have a blended family of adult children who have blessed us with 5 grandchildren.  We love spending time with all of them.

Bill and I enjoy teaching and mentoring couples and also consider time with the grandchildren our ministry.  Additionally, I am greatly blessed to be a Titus Women teacher  – blessed by the Word I study and the women who study along with me and encourage me. 

This fall, my subject for 4 weeks of the “Titus” class is “Discipleship”.  What a concept!  To study in order to be more like Jesus.  I am praying that we will do just that.  

Discipleship can seem like a high and lofty goal and I always found it pretty easy to look like someone who lived by the rules, sang in the choir, taught Sunday School and had  my wits together.  It is a little more sobering to actually understand what true discipleship, being like Jesus, really means.  And I have a ways to go yet but I find I can look back over a couple of years and see that I am being transformed.  “Praise God!” 

We will study it mostly in the context of your personal life among those you love the most – your family.  They know you better than anyone else.  You can’t pretend with them. It is where the rubber meets the road.  And believe me, sometimes there is a lot of screeching and smoke.  But take heart ladies, we have help – great powerful help.   

Kathy Bowman

This summer we were blessed with our 18th grandchild!

 I have taught many studies at Berean but never one on Worship.  If you are like me, you have a great desire to worship a holy God. But do we approach Him with the right attitude? 

What does our life, our words, our behavior, our priorities point to as the object of our worship? 

As we study Old and New Testament passages about worship, we will learn what it is to be equipped to move beyond dry rituals and superficial expressions to a lifestyle of authentic worship.