Posted by: pastortomvabeach | January 17, 2012

Thought for the Week January 22, 2012

In the last few segments I have been sharing Rev. Daniel Henderson’s teaching on the “movements of prayer” which is the way that he outlines the pattern that Jesus gave us in what we call “The Lord’s Prayer”, found in the gospels. If you recall there are four movements: upward in reverence, downward in response, inward with requests, and outward with readiness. Another way to describe it is worship (God), submit (to God’s will), ask (for needs), engage (the world). Whenever we pray we can follow this simple pattern to motivate us and keep us on track.

Now that we’ve discussed two of the “training exercises” that are important for spiritual health, I want to just remind us all of the purpose for sharing these things. Continued transformation as a follower of Jesus Christ depends on regularly doing the spiritual training exercises that bring that transformation. This works much the same way that physical exercise works. If I want to build muscle, I must do regular exercise with weights or other types of resistance which little by little make my muscles stronger. If I want to run 10 miles, I start by running around the block but I do it enough that soon I’m running a mile, then five and eventually reach the goal.

The same thing applies to spiritual growth. The Christian “disciplines” or “exercises” of Bible reading and prayer, when done in regular segments over long periods of time work together with other “exercises” to cause us to love God and love others more, which is the definition of spiritual growth! We don’t have to join a monastery or quit working or neglect our families in order to set up a regular training schedule. To start off, ten minutes a day of reading the Bible and then praying, if we do it consistently will have an enormous impact on our lives.

This is the kind of thinking I believe that Jesus was trying to promote when the disciples asked Him to teach them to pray. Notice that Jesus’ response to their request in Luke 11:2 said, “When you pray…” not, “If you pray.” It seemed to be a forgone conclusion that Jesus’ followers would pray and He was giving them instructions for those times. Paul wrote to the church at Thessalonica, Pray without ceasing. I don’t believe that Paul meant they should stop everything else in life and pray during all their waking hours. What I believe he had in mind was a regular, consistent reliance on our intimate conversation with God.

In much the same way Peter tells us, As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that you may grow thereby (I Peter 2:5). If you think about it, neither babies nor adults, for that matter eat food constantly while awake. They do, however, take meals on a regular basis. Failing to eat regular meals causes strength to wane and, if prolonged, is dangerous to our lives. The comparison works. If we want to learn to recognize God’s voice, to know His ways, and to apply His directions, we must be consistent in taking in His Word.

I don’t mean to be beating a drum on these things, but I think it is vital that we, as individuals, determine to make these things consistent in our lives. If you and I and everyone else in Christian Chapel, are regularly listening to the Lord in His Word then interacting with Him in prayer so that we apply the things we are hearing and seeing, we will all grow together. That, in turn will increase the presence of Jesus in everything we are doing in life and cause us to have a greater impact on those we know and relate to every day. When that happens more people will see that Jesus loves them and wants to really make a difference for them!

Wow! Just think what can happen in our church, our community, and ultimately in our world if we get serious about this thing of being transformed into fully devoted followers of Jesus Christ, of actually being more Christ-like in our attitudes, behavior, thoughts, etc., so Jesus is in the world in us. We can change the world! Isn’t that why we are here? Just a thought.

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