It’s Always Something, Isn't It?

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The day starts with the best of intentions. You tell yourself in the most convincing manner possible that today is the day. You will absolutely find the time. You will have the most amazing prayer time ever.

Then its off to the races.

Your feet hit the floor running.

There’s no looking back.

The day ends.

You have no idea why you failed.

Maybe you did put on the breaks, briefly.

You sat quietly.

Took several deep breathes.

30 seconds later you were either snoozing or task list checking.

What happened?

One word…distractions.

They are Satan’s answer to keeping us from God!

“How can I keep from being distracted?” is not a new question but many of the distractions today are new.

There are really only two types of distractions. When we figure out what works to control them, prayer can and will become a beautiful part of our relationship with God. First we will look at environmental distractions and then internal thoughts distractions.

It’s not headline news that we all have a lot of activities in our lives. Family, work, home, friends, church, volunteering, Youtube, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and the list goes on and on. Although we do have commitments in many of these areas, the key is putting the commitment to God at the top of that list. Three specific steps will work to minimize the distractions around us for a productive prayer time:

Turn OFF all the screens:

This means actually turning them off and tuning them out. Yours and anyone near you. There is nothing that you can possibly be missing during your prayer time that’s more important then God.

Schedule a specific time and location:

Knowing when and where prayer time will be spent makes it a priority. Something come up? Just like any other important appointment reschedule.

Be intentional everyday:

Top priority tasks get done. Enough said!

These steps are half the challenge. Internal distractions are the next obstacle.

According to an article in Phycology Today about distractions in our mind, “It's not negotiable: there's no way not to be distracted by distractions.”

That’s encouraging!

The good news is it was reported in The Telegraph that a 2016 study concluded, “Intelligent people may find it difficult to focus the mind because of all the amazing ideas constantly running through their genius brains.”

That explains everything, right?

Bottom line is that everyone battles distractions. There are things we can do to control our thoughts and bring our focus to God. Each of us is unique. We each need to try various methods to find what works for us. Trying one or more of these suggested approaches may get you to that amazing prayer time.

Have a plan:

Consider using the ACTS approach - Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving and Supplication. You can read more on this approach  at billygraham.org/answer/how-does-one-pray-ive-never-been-taught-how-to-say-a-personal-prayer-or-really-talk-to-god/

Force focus:

Either write out your prayer or say your prayer out loud. These approaches force your mind to stay on task.

Prepare your mind: 

Try listening to or singing a favorite worship song, reading a prayer from book of Psalm, or reciting a prayer such as The Serenity Prayer.

Group prayer:

Consider soliciting others to pray with you. Share requests and take turns praying out loud.

 

These are just a few ideas. Try these and others. Most importantly don’t give up until you have found your prayer sweet spot.

Be committed, be intentional, and prayer will be amazing.

What is Prayer?

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The best way to establish, develop, and maintain any relationship is through conversation. Relationships must be centered on trust. It is upon trust that intimacy is built. How do we establish trust and build intimacy? Through conversation. 

Prayer is conversation with God. Through conversation we build a relationship with him.

If, upon meeting someone for the first time, the conversation ended after an exchanged “hello”, the relationship would not go beyond the introductory level. A relationship can’t continue to grow without extended conversation. The conversation needs to eventually move from the basics of getting to know each other, to sharing thoughts and feelings on a personal and emotional level. That’s the level of intimacy we can have with God the Father.

 You have searched me, Lord, and you know me. You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar. (Psalm 139:1-2)

He already knows the thoughts and feelings of our innermost places, but when we willingly share those with him in prayer, an intimate bond with him develops in our own hearts.

Another failed technique in relationship building is to dominate the conversation. It’s hard to be friends with a person who only talks about themselves – THEIR problems, THEIR successes, THEIR families, THEIR jobs, THEIR drama. God is so much more tolerant of the kind of conversation than a human friend would be. The thing is, WE are missing so many benefits of having a relationship with the Lord when we don’t stop to listen to what he has to say to us!

These handy acronyms offer a couple of ways to guide our conversation with God:

From Bible study leader, Priscilla Shirer:

P – Praise God for who he is and what he’s done.

R – Repent for any areas of your life where you’re resisting what God wants to do in you.

A – Ask for God’s help and guidance in your life or the lives of others.

Y – Yes! Confirm God’s truth and promises to you by praying His own words from Scripture.

Or similar to PRAY, practice ACTS:

A – Adoration

C – Confession

T – Thanksgiving

S – Supplication (Praying for the needs of others and yourself)

Get to know your Lord and Savior. Reading your Bible and prayer (conversation) are the best ways to grow in your relationship with him. He longs for you to willingly share every part of your life experience with him. We can do that through prayer.

You are the Light of the World.

Matthew 514

I don't know if you've ever felt the 'lost-ness' of hell in your life - I mean really felt it? Well the truth is, some of you are there right now and inside your heart of hearts, there is pain, there is regret, there is loneliness and there is anger. Sometimes there are wounds so deep, we wonder if we can ever be whole? If we can ever move forward? If there is going to be any real sunrise in our lives ahead? And to the answer - God gives Jesus!

Right before He ascended into Heaven, Jesus said something so radical and life changing, that He literally meant for it to impact the world and change every life on planet Earth. And to change those lives, Jesus said - I want to use you!
 
There have been so many times in my own life where I've said I'm not enough! I'm too small! I can't! Every time that I begin a sentence with I can't, I'm showing that I don't understand that the subject of everything is Jesus! He's the issue and when my life begins with Jesus, then God is free to use my life to help other people discover!

Jesus sent 'us' into the world so that men and women, boys and girls would know that there is hope! That they do not have to live 'now' in the lost-ness of hell. So Jesus raised up a group of people called the church, and He did not collect the church to be a few sanctified saints who were so cold and judgmental to the world that we would be rejected and unattractive! He called us to go and be salt and light  (Matthew 5:13-16), and when the world around you is very dark, just a little light makes all the difference!
 
So, in the midst of our brokenness, Jesus said go!

 "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” (Matthew 28:18-20)

Guys, what I want us to know is that I believe with all of my heart, and I'm committing my whole life to this truth, that we really can change our world - if we'll go living Jesus!
 
We are called to look to Jesus and have a broken heart for people who are hurting! To believe that Jesus has so looked after my interest that I am now free- free of myself, free not to live out of my own brokenness and my own issues - I am free to go now! Having gotten myself off of my hands, rather having Jesus lifted myself off my hands, I can now go out into a broken world and I can share the love of God in a way that really changes life!
 
There once was a church that so lived in the freshness of the resurrection! Jesus was so alive, so fresh and so real that they changed the world in Acts! We can be that church. In fact, if we are not that church, we are no church at all! -Dr. Drew Shofner
Posted by Dr. Drew Shofner with

All the believers were one in heart and mind.

Acts 4:32

I don't know if some of you know, but we've got a pretty serious and solid purpose here at The Church at Severn Run! It is to reach as many people as possible, by creatively revealing the love of the Father through the life of the Son, in the power of the Spirit! We've heard our pastor say it over and over again, and when I read our mission statement, I got news for you, it looks a whole lot like that group back in Acts chapter 4 doesn't it? 

It says this in Acts 4:32, "All the believers were one in heart and mind. No one claimed that any of their possessions was their own, but they shared everything they had." 

There was no relational poverty. There were no lonely people that were involved in this particular group. They were all united in heart and mind and they felt that what they owned, was not their own! 

So they shared everything that they had and folks, this was not some political thing, or some government saying 'we are going to take everything that you've got and redistribute it equally among everybody else,' that's not what was happening. These people were 'crazy'--they were literally giving up everything that they had and then redistributing it so that nobody else had need inside of their community - oh my goodness!

One of the most remarkable statements of this chapter is in Acts 4:34, "There were no needy people among them." None! This does not mean that they were all driving around in Mercedes Benz. It means that there were no needs, nobody went without a meal in their community. Nobody was trying to figure out how to make sure the electric got paid in their community--their needs were being met! This was an entire community of 5,000 worshiping together and none of them had a need! That's called crazy-town!

They realized that God had not put them on the planet to acquire 'more stuff' or to build more wealth, they knew that life was about relationship with God and that it was about relationship with others; nothing more, nothing less! The apostles testified powerfully to the resurrection of Jesus and God's great blessing was upon them all. 

They recognized that what Jesus had really been there to do was to change the hearts and minds of every single man, woman, boy and girl. And here's what they did, they got on the road with Jesus, because Jesus' passion was that every man, woman, boy and girl from the time that He was crucified and left planet earth, would never again experience loneliness and the destructive element that this world has to offer!

These were not people that went into a classroom to try and learn as much as they possibly could. These were people that from day one, got out on the road, they followed after Jesus, they ran into as many unbelievers as they possibly could and they met their needs and they shared the Jesus story! 

We can finish what they started, don't you believe that church? They are no different than you and I, they were united in heart and mind and they had a solid purpose - like our own!  -Pastor John B. Smith

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