On All Occasions: Holding on, While Letting Go: Traversing discouragement

On All Occasions: Holding on, While Letting Go: Traversing discouragement
I am free to let go of things for the sake of making the supremacy of God's worth known. John Piper

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Sharing Our Faith through Prayer

Recently during a prayer huddle before services, our pastor asked if anyone had a prayer need. Everyone looked around the circle with shrugged shoulders, me included, until one person shared about a hospitalized infant. I have often wondered why so many believers find it difficult to share prayer needs with others, especially a personal prayer need?

Yet, prayer is an essential part of our worship. I have to say it again, prayer is worshiping God! It is our sacrifice on the altar, a pleasing aroma. It is our fellowship offering, our thanksgiving offering, and our sin offering. It is how God makes himself known to us and to a watching world. It is how he brings glory to himself, in the demonstration of his provision by His power, strength, and love… "so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To Him be the glory and the power forever and ever. Amen” 1 Peter 4:11

Every prayer offered in faith and according to God’s will is an opportunity for God to be glorified, every prayer. If we viewed prayer as an act of worship would we be more inclined to pray? If we understood that God wants to reveal Himself in a “God-sized” way, would we be more likely to trust Him for the really “big things,” rather than rely on our own human strength, and safe and sane plans?

I realize that for more sensitive matters, not all settings are conducive to sharing, but I think we too often struggle with this, even in the church community, among our friends and in our small groups. If we are not careful, we risk by default our own “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy. A policy where we fail to “ask” God for his provision thereby, losing an opportunity to “tell” of His glory.

Here are a few reasons we may fail to ask God, or share our need with others:
  • Our independent nature views dependence on God as weak or needy. Therefore, we stigmatize prayer, only those who are weak need prayer. (the irony)
  • We are full of pride - we “say, I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing…” Rev. 3:17
  •  We are self-focused - we fear that others will judge us as somehow less spiritual.
  •  We are self-seeking - we pray only when we have a need, not for kingdom purposes and may even forget to thank God.
  • We lack faith - faith in God’s provision, and confidence in his love for us.
  • We are untrained or undisciplined - we don’t know how because it is not modeled for us, or we lack spiritual motivation.
  • Lack of intimacy with God - we see God as distant and have not experienced Him as our Abba Father.

Perhaps you can identify with some of these even if by omission? The point is, when needs remain unexpressed and the act of prayer remains out of public practice we risk living powerless lives, lacking an expression of faith that pleases and glorifies God.

The following are some ways believers can share their faith through prayer: 

  • Keep a prayer journal, being watchful and documenting God’s answers. Make note of spiritual markers and tell others about God’s faithfulness. These will become your “God Stories,” to be shared with others. (Ps 78:4; 105:2; 107:22)
  • Increase your comfort level, share with a trusted person or group both your requests and God’s answers. (Matt 18:20)
  • Look for opportunities to pray for an unchurched friend or neighbor who shares a struggle and then ask if you can pray for them, preferably on the spot. Keep praying and follow up. (1 Peter 3:15)
  • Ask God to increase your faith and reveal Himself, His ways, and His purposes. (Eph 3:16-21)
  • Spend quality time in private prayer, both listening to the Holy Spirit and offering praise and worship to God. (Ps 26:8; 27:4)
  • Increase your knowledge and experience by joining with a prayer partner or study group. (Ps 53:4)
  •  As leaders, demonstrate your dependence on God with transparency, asking for prayer and quickly moving to prayer in your ministry among people. Celebrate with others God’s provision. (John 15:5; Isaiah 63:7; Eph 6:18-20)
  • As individuals, parents and leaders, don’t dismiss “burning bush” or “Red Sea” opportunities to trust and obey God in God-sized kingdom work. Invite others to join with you in prayer. Share your praises corporately. (Ps 40: 9-10; Prov 30:4; Eph 1:18-20)
  •  Finally, ask God to provide opportunities for you to share your faith, and be prepared “ to give the reason for the hope that you have…” 1 Peter 3:15

Ultimately, the depth of our prayer life is in direct proportion to the depth of our relationship with God. Asking, and trusting in Him is an act of faith. When we share our personal encounters with a living God, today's world takes note. He alone is the reason for the hope that we have. When it comes to time spent in prayer, I like to apply this quote, “Generosity is giving more than you can and pride is taking less than you need.” Kahlil Gibran.