By Shereen Lynn
It’s difficult to talk about something like prayer . . . especially when I tell you our vision statement for Equip Her includes a hope that you will become acquainted with ceaseless prayer during your time with us.
But prayer is hard to explain – it’s a conversation with an Almighty and Invisible Being, that may or may not result in immediate response. Kinda.
How can I possibly encourage you to do something without ceasing that I can’t really describe very well myself?
Prayer – Just Do It! doesn’t seem to be enough . . . somehow.
Fact is, I happen to think you already know how prayer functions. It’s a human response, really, to call on Someone/Something greater – in need and struggle, in joy and celebration. Most every culture, certainly all religions, involve some communication with a higher power.
Those of us who read and follow the Bible, learn that the Higher Power is God, Yahweh . . . a trinity that includes God the Father, the Holy Spirit, and the Son (Jesus).
We pray to our Creator and LORD with the example of relationship that Jesus Himself gives us in one of his prayers in John 17:25-26:
25 “O righteous Father, the world doesn’t know you, but I do; and these disciples know you sent me. 26 I have revealed you to them, and I will continue to do so. Then your love for me will be in them, and I will be in them.”
The Son is praying to the Father, asking for the Spirit to help us in our relationship with them. Amazing grace!
In His book, Prayer – Experiencing Awe and Intimacy with God, Timothy Keller says there’s a difference between “instinctive prayer” and prayer as a spiritual gift (pg 46).
“ all prayers are not alike or equally effective in relating to God. The clearer our understanding of who God is, the better our prayers. Instinctive prayer is like an emergency flare in reaction to a general sense of God’s reality. Prayer as Spiritual Gift is a genuine, personal conversation in reply to God’s specific, verbal revelation.”
He asserts that prayer must be tethered to the Word of God. And that “if the goal of prayer is real, personal connection with God, then it is only by immersion in the language of the Bible that we will learn to pray, perhaps just as slowly as a child learns to speak.”
Think about that for a moment . . . how does a child learn to speak? Don’t we give them words with meanings and ask them to echo back until they learn to use them correctly?
Keller continues on page 62:
“Without immersion in God’s words, our prayers may not be merely limited and shallow but also untethered from reality. We may be responding not to the real God but to what we wish God and life to be like. Indeed, if left to themselves our hearts will tend to create a God who doesn’t exist. People from Western cultures want a God who is loving and forgiving but not holy and transcendent. Studies of the spiritual lives of young adults in Western countries reveal that their prayers, therefore, are generally devoid of both repentance and of the joy of being forgiven. Without prayer that answers the God of the Bible, we will only be talking to ourselves.”
As we learn prayer together here at Equip Her, we’re going to learn from a perspective of immersion in the Word.
- We’re going to look first at who God is in the Word . . . knowing who we’re having a conversation with. UPWARD
- When we learn of Him, we’ll notice how much we are NOT like God, we don’t measure up, but we long to drawn closer . . . that brings confession. INWARD
- We also look around at the work God is doing in others, so we pray with and for each other as an OUTWARD focus of prayer.
“INTERCESSORY PRAYER IS LESS ABOUT CHANGING GOD’S MIND AND MORE ABOUT PARTICIPATING IN HIS MERCY.”
God’s Word teaches us how to participate in His mercy. We learn to
- See others as Christ sees them
- Stand with them in battle against our common enemy
- Offer hope without needing to have all the answers.
One tool we use in our Equip Her prayer groups is our Legacy of Prayer journal. The scripture passages in the journal can be used in your prayers both within your prayer groups each week or in your own personal prayer time throughout the week. Our hope, as always, is that your time within your prayer groups will draw you closer to each other as you draw close to God.