weekly word – 11/16/23

Victory Through Prayer

In John 9:14-29, we saw how the disciples failed to drive the unclean spirit from the boy that was brought to them. They felt defeated, perhaps paralyzed and embarrassed. After Jesus drove the demon from the boy and when the disciples were alone with Jesus, they asked Him why they couldn't drive out the spirit. Jesus told them, that they needed prayer. 

Prayer is just as important for our ministry today as it was for the disciples' ministry during the early church. I say "our ministry" instead of our lives because our lives really should be about serving God with our gifts in some form of ministry.

How effective is our prayer life and what does it look like? Many Christians today feel defeated in their prayer lives or feel that they are lacking. Prayer is a discipline that must be exercised and just like physical exercise, it requires commitment. If you're not a runner, it seems like a daunting task to run for 7 minutes. In the same way, praying for 7 minutes seems like an eternity. We believe in prayer, can even know the importance of prayer and want to pray, but it can be such a difficult thing to do on a regular basis and can become frustrating when we do not pray the way we want to. Our hearts may not be in it and it can be difficult to stay focused while praying.

Here is a recommendation to help stir up and maybe help jumpstart our prayer lives. It's a simple method that can help our prayer routine but can also make it more profitable or meaningful. When you pray, instead of praying the way we've gotten used to, praying for the same people in the same way, try praying through passages of Scripture. A simple way to start is with a Psalm.

Example: If you pray through Psalm 23, begin by writing it out, line by line or keep your Bible open in front of you. Read "The Lord is my Shepherd", stop right there and meditate on those words. Thank him for being your faithful and loving Shepherd. Ask Him to shepherd your family that day, to guide, protect, and provide for them with the things that you know they will be involved with. Ask that they, too, would look to Him as their Shepherd. Pray for Him to bless and shepherd the elders, as we shepherd our church. When nothing else comes to mind, go to the next line, "I shall not want" and continue to pray. Thank Him for providing everything that you need. Ask for help in being content and blessed with what you have.

Simply go through the passage, line by line, praying what you find in the text or what it brings to mind. If nothing comes to mind, go on through the passage, line by line. Spend time in pause and meditation, asking God for wisdom and discernment through that line. There is no prescribed formula on how long you need to stay on any particular verse.

Continue in this way until you either run out of time, or run out of lines in that Psalm.

I recommend starting with the Psalm because the original purpose and use of the Psalms are for prayer. They were songs inspired by God for the purpose of being reflected in song back to God. Plus, there's a Psalm for just about every sigh or groaning of the heart. We can find a full range of human emotions recorded in the Psalms.

The second best place in Scripture to pray from is in the New Testament Epistles. They are full of truth and instruction that we need help understanding and living out. There would be so much to pray about as we negotiate these truths in our lives.

It can even be profitable to pray through the narratives in both the Old and New Testament. Instead of looking at each verse through a narrative, take a look at the big picture. What are the big application points that jump out at you?

Once you actually experience praying through a passage of Scripture, you'll eventually be able to turn to any part of the Bible and pray through it. By praying through a passage of Scripture, you'll find yourself praying for the usual things, but in brand new ways. You'll also find yourself praying about things you would never have thought to pray about.

Jesus prayed through Scripture, the early church prayed through it, why not us? You'll also realize that praying for 7 minutes is short and you'll be spending longer periods of time with God!

Pastor Bryan