Quiet? What’s that? The kids are fighting, the TV is blaring, the cell phone is pinging and the washer is running. Down the block a fire truck’s siren is blasting and cars are tearing down the street. And now? The cat is tipping over the dog’s water dish! Sound familiar?...
If ever a prayer needed to be answered it was now. Standing inside the critical care unit of Children’s Hospital, I watched and waited outside a recovery room. A battery of alarms were blaring. Code blue blurted on high volume from the loud speakers. Nurses came running, equipment...
In October I ended up serving at Winter Relief, although it was not quite my plan for the night. I came for the youth Bible study, but it was cancelled because the church was hosting the Winter Relief guests. I decided to go up to where Winter Relief was happening and I met a man with a...
Too often we confuse magic with prayer. Magic is instant. Magic is showy, we just kind of wave a wand and it happens -but that's not supernatural!Prayer is for THROUGH and not around!Prayer is the window through, but we want around! So many of us, on our journey, have been stopped by Satan...
“They all joined together constantly in prayer.” Acts 1:14 People often have an idealized idea of what praying as a family should look like. In a perfect world, praying with children would be easy. We would sit around the table with our well behaved children (who would have...
Father loves the lost, and prayer is the way the lost get found. When we pray, God does something in us and something through us! When we pray, we enter into the presence of God and if you go there often enough and you pray with all of your heart, and if you do not give up, you...
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...
In Jeremiah 29, the prophet Jeremiah tells us that God has said to his people, “You will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you.” (Jeremiah 29:12-14a) This is one of...
As a church we are entering into a season of prayer. There is arguably nothing more central to the life of a Christian and to the life of a church than prayer. In the Gospels, Jesus models prayer and emphasizes it with his disciples. He makes prayer a central part of his life. Not just when...
“And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your...
Quiet? What’s that? The kids are fighting, the TV is blaring, the cell phone is pinging and the washer is running. Down the block a fire truck’s siren is blasting and cars are tearing down the street. And now? The cat is tipping over the dog’s water dish!
Sound familiar? Can your relate? Quiet Time 101, really?
Any college student will tell you that a 101 class means it’s the easiest, the beginning and the first class you must take to move deeper into a topic. Some days a quiet time doesn’t seem quite so simple. It may challenge us or inspire us or leave us with questions. However it is necessary to move deeper into our relationship with God.
If you do a search of the words “quiet time” on an electronic Bible, you will come up empty. There are no Cliff notes on the topic. There will be no quizzes and you will not get graded. There isn’t even a syllabus outlining the task. This is the good news and the bad. This is not a class or a normal course of study, it’s a journey. A journey that can only be travelled with God, his son Jesus Christ, and our helper the Holy Spirit.
“I am so busy, my life is chaos, how can I have a quiet time?” is often heard from those who have yet to embark on this journey. Others wonder what they would do during a quiet time. Others find that any soul searching is awkward or even painful. Once it becomes a habit, it will change your life.
As a person who’s energy spikes around 8 or 9 pm, I discovered after the daily tasks were done and the kids where in bed this time was my “sweet spot”. Finding a comfortable chair and setting aside time was perfect for me and Jesus. Often I would settle in with a cup of tea and my Bible for 30-45 minutes of worship. Years later life has changed and so has my quiet time. My Jesus time is spread throughout the day: Bible reading early, prayer in the morning and Bible study at my lunch break. One evening a week includes a Bible discussion and lecture.
Beginning the journey can be unsettling. What does a quiet time look like? Things to consider include Time, Action and Place or TAP.
Find a specific time or times of day and put it on your daily to do list. Plan for what is important and be intentional in accomplishing this high priority task. Like Jesus this may be early in the morning when he was able to be alone. Maybe you too are a night person and the evening works for you. Anytime is good with God. He just wants you and your time.
There is no exact method as each person is drawn closer to God differently.
- Prayer is essential. God wants to hear from you. This could be through journaling, verbal expression or through your thoughts.
- Singing or playing music may prepare your heart or move you to communicate the God.
- Reading and studying the Bible allows you to learn about God, his character, the scripture stories and find words of wisdom. The Bible can be thought of as the owners manual for life. If you are new to the Bible start with reading the New Testament book of John.
- Use a devotional, the Digging Deeper discussion guide, Christian books or a Bible commentary for additional insight and perspective.
- Listen for God to speak. What is it God is doing? What does he want me to know? What does he want me to do?
The place isn’t as important as the focus. It’s essential to find a spot that has minimal distractions, allowing you to openly communicate with God. This may be a coffee shop, or a park bench or room in your home. You may change location each day or change it as time goes on. It doesn’t matter where as much as it matters that you can focus your mind on God.
As you are constantly bombarded with messages throughout the day, remind yourself that it was necessary for Jesus to take time to pray and be with Father. (See Mark 1:35) In your busyness of the day, set aside time and let the words of Bill Hybels book title remind you that you are “Too Busy Not to Pray.”
If ever a prayer needed to be answered it was now.
Standing inside the critical care unit of Children’s Hospital, I watched and waited outside a recovery room. A battery of alarms were blaring. Code blue blurted on high volume from the loud speakers. Nurses came running, equipment was rolled in, and one of the doctors who’d participated in that day’s surgery dashed into the room. I, as well as other family members, peered through the viewing window at the many monitors, with the heart rate monitor being the target of our attention.
The baby in the room was only a few days old. The surgery just completed was the first of several open heart operations that would lead to her eventually being added to the heart transplant list roughly 8 months later. She was so tiny and helpless. Her heart failed to develop properly. She was suffering from a rare congenital heart defect known as hypo-plastic left heart syndrome. In layman’s terms, the under-developed left side heart can't effectively pump blood to the body, so the right side of the heart must be modified to do both functions.
Thoughts raced through my mind as we continued to take in the activity in the room. How can I help? What do I do for those around me also watching? In my head these words repeated again and again, “Please God, make it work. Please God, make it work.” After what seemed like an eternity, yet was likely but a minute or two, baby’s heart rate when back up, the oxygen level improved, and I knew she was okay for now.
A prayer with an immediate positive response. These are the times that hearing and seeing God’s answer to our request bring us delight and leaves us grateful.
But sometimes, God’s response to our prayers seems slow or even non-existent. Other times the response seems to be more of a challenge than an answer, leaving us to wonder, does God always answer prayer?
If you spend any time at all researching this question you will find websites and articles that outline three possible responses - yes, wait, and no.
There are many stories of answered prayer throughout the old and the new testament. One source offered 68 verses of answered prayer.(1)
One of the many famous immediate “yes” answers is found in Matthew 8. This is the story of the man with leprosy who simply asked Jesus for healing. Verses 2-3 tell us, “Suddenly, a leper came up to him, fell down before him, and said, ‘Sir, if you want to, you can make me clean.’ So Jesus reached out his hand, touched him, and said, ‘I do want to. Be clean!’ And instantly his leprosy was made clean.”
Imagine the elation of the healed man! Clearly, for the leper, this was the answer for which he had hoped to receive.
In reading the book of Psalm, it is somewhat surprising how often David prays to God to be rescued from his enemies. Again and again he is on the run. Its clear that his situations are dire and his prayers are ernest. For example, in Psalm 69:1-3 he prays,
1) Save me, O God,
for the waters have come up to my neck.
2) I sink in the miry depths,
where there is no foothold.
I have come into the deep waters;
the floods engulf me.
3) I am worn out calling for help;
my throat is parched.
My eyes fail,
looking for my God.
Clearly David is in distress and has been praying for quite some time. However, in continuing to read, the good news is that David always gets an answer. Through it all he continually praises God and acknowledges God’s goodness.
Ask any parent and they will tell you that some times the answer to a child’s request needs to be “No”. God, as our father, would also agree. The request may seem reasonable to us, maybe even necessary. But thankfully God sees the big picture, looking far beyond our limited area of vision.
One of the most profound stories in the Bible that demonstrate why God must say “No” at times, is the plea Jesus made in the garden of Gethsemane just before his arrest, crucifixion, and resurrection. He was accompanied by his disciples and as he went off ahead, he prayed to God saying, “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me.” Matthew 26:39b
Can you imagine if God had shrugged and said, “Well, okay.”? It is a terrifying thought. We would have no redemption and no one would have saved us from our sins. Thankfully God said “No”.
As we consider our own prayers requests today and in the past, we are likely to be able to recall times we have gotten each of these answers. No matter where you are today in your journey with Jesus, remember in all things—and especially in prayer—we need to trust that God has us covered. He promises to take care of us.
When in doubt, read, ponder, and meditate on Jeremiah 29:11, “ For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”
In October I ended up serving at Winter Relief, although it was not quite my plan for the night. I came for the youth Bible study, but it was cancelled because the church was hosting the Winter Relief guests. I decided to go up to where Winter Relief was happening and I met a man with a really heartbreaking story. He told me about how he loved to work. He explained to me that his son was a heroin addict, and his life had gone downhill. He used to be a great student, physically fit, and very smart. He could have been a programmer and had a good life. Instead, addiction had destroyed his life, and he was living on the streets.
This man told me he was working so he could get his son off the streets. Every day he would give him money so he could rent a hotel room, or buy food. Of course, addiction tends to affect priorities so the money would often go to drugs instead of housing. Still, there wasn’t much else this man could do, every day he could he would bring his son to the addiction treatment center, but if he didn’t want to join the program, no one could make him.
So, here was a father who was just doing everything he could to give his son a chance to recover his life, even at his own expense. It vaguely reminded me of the prodigal son; his father didn’t care what he was wrapped up in, he only wanted his son to be okay. As I listened to this man talk, more and more I wanted to pray for him. This was kind of a new and weird experience for me, because I’m not the best at praying for people and I get nervous about praying in public. But God wouldn’t take away the feeling I was having that I had to pray for him. Eventually I asked him if I could pray for him and his son.
Lately I’ve been in a lonely spot in life, and that’s made life depressing for me. When I started praying with this man though, it was really strange…I felt like I suddenly had a real connection with someone. In that short moment I wasn’t lonely. Having that common relationship and trust in God, and having the willingness to call on him together brought us closer in that moment, and that destroyed my loneliness.
It seems to me that when we connect with other people and do what God is calling us to do, we can feel more fulfilled and happier.
Too often we confuse magic with prayer. Magic is instant. Magic is showy, we just kind of wave a wand and it happens -but that's not supernatural!
Prayer is for THROUGH and not around!
Prayer is the window through, but we want around! So many of us, on our journey, have been stopped by Satan because we prayed about something and God didn't lead us around. I gotta tell you, God rarely does around!
God does through, and this is what we see in all of the life of Jesus!
Have we missed the heart of how God works? God is not an around God, He's a through God! Go back and read Luke 22:39-46, and look how Jesus had to go through every moment of the crucifixion.
You can't get to the resurrection without going through the cross!
You can't get to heaven without going through the hardship of a broken world!
And the truth is, we need to come back to through and understand that Daniel had to go through being dropped into rocks in a stinking cave in Daniel verse 6:16. And I know that because in the end, it tells us they had to lift him up out of the cave!
Daniel prays: and God's salvation and deliverance is not to have the king change his mind or to have Daniel avoid being dropped in a hole! Daniel's prayer didn't resolve impossible before he faced it, but as the clock ticked, moment by moment, through, through, through -Daniel prayed!
Then after all of this comes the question of the ages: “Daniel, servant of the living God, has your God, whom you serve continually, been able to rescue you from the lions?” Daniel 6:20
Guys, at some point and 100 times over, you're going to have to decide in your life -Is God able? Is my God able? Will I trust him and will I pray "through?"
Will I believe that the impossible isn't?
No matter how things look to my eyes?
No matter how things sound to my ears?
No matter how things feel to my senses?
No matter how huge the storm is on my emotions, I will open the window of prayer and see through it all and see my Savior, Jesus Christ, who showed that the way through impossible is to a resurrection! -Dr. Drew Shofner
“They all joined together constantly in prayer.” Acts 1:14
People often have an idealized idea of what praying as a family should look like. In a perfect world, praying with children would be easy. We would sit around the table with our well behaved children (who would have perfectly clean faces and perfectly ironed clothes), we would all hold hands and bow our heads, and even the youngest would remain quiet during this time of intersession with God.
But is this obviously not a perfect world, and I don’t know about your family, but my kids are loud. They usually have the remnants of their most recent meal on their clothes and they rarely sit still for anything other than Mickey Mouse Clubhouse. My house is one monkey short of being a circus. So it can be a struggle to find, or more importantly, make time to teach our young ones to talk to Jesus. But find that time we must
When I was in college I went on a mission trip to East Africa. Our group spent months preparing for this trip. We would get together as a group to learn about the people we would meet and learn about their culture. We practiced how to speak to a group using an interpreter and we had amazing prayer meetings. One of my favorite things we would do during the prayer meetings is, we would pray with our eyes open, we would pray as if God were a tangible person sitting in the room with us. It felt strange at first, certainly not how I prayed when I was growing up, but it taught me that prayer can happen at anytime in any place. My understanding of prayer grew. It showed me another way that prayer can be an extremely intimate and powerful act of group worship.
I have taken this approach and applied it to my own “group”. My family.
My children have a tendency to be intimidated by the thought of talking to The Lord. They think there are certain words to say, a specific way to pray. While I want them to have an attitude of reverence and awe, I also want them to understand that they are God’s children and he delights in them. Even when they thank him for every single one of their favorite toys and it takes 5 minutes to list them all. I want them to simply get used to talking to God, whether that be around the table thanking him for our food or telling him about their Barbies and dinosaurs.
5 Ways to Pray as a Family
1. Set aside intentional time to pray together.
Set aside a regular time to pray with your kids or spouse. For my family, this is usually while we are driving to school in the morning or before bed at night. Praying for their safety at school, praying for the teachers and their friends is a great way to kick off the day. At night, we pray once everyone is in bed. The kids will (hopefully) be starting to settle down and it just seems like a natural time for children to open up and talk about whats on their hearts.
2. Pray spontaneously.
If you see a car accident, say a prayer out loud for those involved. If your kids are testing your patience, stop and let them hear you telling God how much you love them even when your tired and frustrated. If you can’t find the car keys, say a quick prayer together about it.
3. Let them see you pray on your own.
Get on your knees in front of your couch, let them see what it looks like to be in communication with the Lord throughout the day. You set the tone and the example for your children in your home.
4. Make a prayer chart or jar.
Make a chart and keep it in a visible place in the house or make a prayer jar. Get a jar or mug and fill it with strips of paper with people and things to pray about. Keep it on the kitchen table, during dinner take turns praying about whatever topic is picked.
5. Give thanks for answered prayer.
Make a point to give thanks and celebrate answered prayer. Its important for children to understand that God answers prayers.
Prayer is one of the most powerful ways we can communicate with the Lord, and helping our children understand that and participating as a family is an amazing blessing.