Friday, October 19, 2007

This is a great example of my friend Jason's writing

This is powerful stuff. Hope you get as much out of it as I did.

Prayer - The Forgotten Key

They went to a place called Gethsemane, and Jesus said to his disciples, "Sit here while I pray." He took Peter, James and John along with him, and he began to be deeply distressed and troubled. "My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death," he said to them. "Stay here and keep watch."Going a little farther, he fell to the ground and prayed that if possible the hour might pass from him. Then he returned to his disciples and found them sleeping. "Simon," he said to Peter, "are you asleep? Could you not keep watch for one hour? Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the body is weak." Once more he went away and prayed the same thing. When he came back, he again found them sleeping, because their eyes were heavy. They did not know what to say to him. Returning the third time, he said to them, "Are you still sleeping and resting? Enough! The hour has come. Look, the Son of Man is betrayed into the hands of sinners. Rise! Let us go! Here comes my betrayer!" Just as he was speaking, Judas, one of the Twelve, appeared. With him was a crowd armed with swords and clubs, sent from the chief priests, the teachers of the law, and the elders. "Am I leading a rebellion," said Jesus, "that you have come out with swords and clubs to capture me? Every day I was with you, teaching in the temple courts, and you did not arrest me. But the Scriptures must be fulfilled." Then everyone deserted him and fled. (Mark 14:32-50)The night of Christ’s greatest trial was also the moment of greatest temptation for His disciples. Knowing this, He urged them to pray. Nowhere in the gospels do we see Christ so emphasizing the need for prayer to His followers as in this moment. Knowing what was about to be unleashed upon them, he admonished them saying, “Watch and pray that you not fall into temptation. For the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.Having spoken about prayer and given them a model to pray by in the Lord’s Prayer, why did Jesus choose this moment to so urge them toward it? Because He was leaving them. When asked why His followers did not fast as the Pharisees and disciples of John did, Jesus said, “There is no need for it while the bridegroom is with them. But the day will come when the bridegroom will be taken away and on that day they will fast.”A similar principle was at work in the arena of prayer. Until now, Christ had been with them – guarding and guiding them. In a sense, they were in a state of perpetual prayer because of Christ’s immediate bodily proximity to them. But that was about to change. His word to them now was, “Watch and pray, because though your spirit may be in the right place, your flesh is weak. I have been with you, but once I am taken away, you’ll find that you aren’t as strong as you think you are.”Until Christ returns, this urgent call to prayer remains.But, like those disciples in the garden, we are prone to resting and sleeping instead. And the result of such inaction has the same predictable results: “Then everyone deserted Him and fled.” In the time of trial and temptation, we do not stand because we do not pray. As a result, like those same disciples, “We do not know what to say to Him.”The great British revivalist Leonard Ravenhill once said, “No man is greater than his prayer life.” These words came from a man who prayed 8-10 hours a day. He knew what he was talking about. He also said, “Failing in the place of prayer, we fail everywhere.”Can we make any greater statement of self-sufficiency before God than that of prayerlessness? Does anything project crass self-confidence like prayerlessness?Why then do we find it so difficult to maintain consistency in prayer? For precisely this reason – it is an affront to the flesh. We simply would rather do any number of things than pray. Prayer can be a pleasure. It can also be a discipline and a battle. Moreover, it stands to reason that if Christ holds prayer up as the key to spiritual victory, our enemy will seek to hinder us from that action. Tragically, he is often successful. His most successful strategy has been getting the church to believe that prayer is an option.Of course, like anything else in the Christian life, prayer is something we mature in through engagement. As the Scripture says, “For who hath despised the day of small things?" Often, Christians labor under the deception that weakness and immaturity in the place of prayer means their prayers are ineffectual and worthless. Therefore, a Christian who may only have the fortitude to pray 10 minutes a day will often choose not to pray at all – not understanding that consistency, even with such a meager offering, will result in perseverance and the gradual building of a prayer life worthy of the Lord.Because of a general absence of prayer, the vast majority of Christians never cultivate their spiritual lives. The result is a spiritual lethargy and a tolerance of personal defeat that is disheartening to our Lord – precisely because He has given us a resource that taps into His own victory, making it ours as well.Let us make a commitment to “watch and pray” with the Lord daily. If we have the fortitude to simply pray, He will establish us in time as a people strong in prayer and faithful through every trial and temptation.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

While I'm Away.....

If you are looking for a good blog to check out while we are living in the land of no internet, please check out my friend Jason's blog. He's got some really great things to say.

Friday, October 05, 2007

Moving Silence

We're moving to Clanton Alabama at the end of this month, and at least for the time being, this is going to be the last post on my blog for quite a while. I've got one last bit of stuff to speak about before I go on my hiatus for the next several months(we won't have internet there).

This is about "hearing from God".

This is something I have recently been convicted about personally. I have been guilty in times past of treating "hearing from God" in a similar way I would treat a motivational speaker. You get a new nugget of wisdom at church or alone or whenever and hold it up and admire the truth or beauty or goodness in it BUT does it take root and get integrated into your life?

At the end of what is commonly referred to as the greatest sermon(the sermon on the mount by Jesus), Jesus recaps with an interesting story. After an incredible summary of the core of His teachings, He does not say be careful THAT you hear, or even WHAT you hear, but HOW you hear. This is tied to the story we all know about the man who built his house upon the sand and the man who built his house upon the rock. Notice that according to Jesus, they BOTH heard, but one was careful "how" he heard building his life on it and the other did not.

I'm not sure that I need another "word from the Lord" for a while. I think perhaps instead I need to focus on living out the immense amount of stuff that he has already revealed to me and integrating it into my life by the guidance and power of the Holy Spirit.

There is another parable Jesus uses to describe the kingdom of heaven. He says it is like a loaf of bread that has allowed the yeast to permeate its entire being. I didn't plan for my break from writing this blog to coincide with this post, but I can't help but wonder if it is not providential in some way.

Please pray for me that I will make dying to myself and living to Christ more of a reality and less of something that I write about the latest insights about.