Thursday, June 19, 2008

Prayer - Back to Basics

Our goal at the Christian Research Institute is to get people back to basics. That may sound mundane but it is so important for you to experience the reality of a relationship with your Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. I've had the experience numerous times now - and every time it was a struggle - as my children began to outgrow their diapers I'd try to talk them into leaving the kiddy pool and launching out into the deep. For them the kiddies pool was all there was and ever would be. That is, of course, until they experienced the deep. Once they learned how to swim in the ocean they forever lost their appetite for shallow water.

As I led each one of my children into an experience with the vastness of the ocean Jesus led His disciples out of the shallow tide-pools of prayer into an ever-deepening relationship with their heavenly Father. Let's look at a couple of practical guidelines for diving into the deep.

The first one is this: make the paradigm shift. Stop seeing prayer as merely a means of obtaining your requests. Start seeing prayer as a means of enjoying the riches of a fellowship with God.

The second thing is that you ought to confess your sins daily and ask for forgiveness. Every single prayer - including the prayer of Jesus, which is the Lord's Prayer, which I happen to pray every single morning in my secret place - will bounce right off the ceiling if there's unforgiveness in your heart. That is precisely why Jesus ended His public sermon on prayer by saying "If you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, but if you don't forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins."

Here's another point. Get into the Bible and get the Bible into you. God's will is revealed in His Word. The only way you can know His will is to know His Word. The more we meditate upon God's Word the clearer His voice will be as daily we commune with Him in prayer.

I've mentioned this before but it bears repeating: discover your secret place. The secret to prayer is secret prayer. Your public presence is a direct reflection of your private prayer life. If you spend time in the secret place you will exude peace in the midst of life's storms. If you do not you're going to be a poster child for busianity rather than for Christianity.

One more point: make prayer a priority. Wisdom is the application of knowledge. Jesus said "Therefore, everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice (or applies them) is like a wise man who built his house on the rock." My experience in teaching memory for over two decades now demonstrates that if you faithfully practice a new discipline for 21 days it may well stay with you for the rest of your life. So make prayer a priority. Don't let the business of life crowd it out. Start building a habit.

A lot of people overdo things. They say "Okay, I'm going to start to pray. I haven't done it before. Hank has talked to me on the air about it. I'm going to do it tomorrow" and the first thing they do is make mistake number one and they try to set aside an hour and then they can't keep up with the process. What I'm suggesting is that you bite off a small chunk and get in the habit. And then involvement will produce commitment, because after a while you will not be able to imagine a day without fellowship with Jesus Christ, and that fellowship will grow ever sweeter as you spend time communing with Him.

If you do not eat meals on a regular basis you are going to suffer the consequences. In the same sense, if you do not pray on a regular basis you will suffer spiritual consequences. It's as simple as that. So get back to basics because that's where the real experience is.

1 comment:

Ana Thai said...

Thank you for this Hank!
I've said this on my computer!