Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment. Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share. (1 Tim. 6:17-18)

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Developing a Deep and Abiding Prayer Life

Photo by Nanda Uforian
A New Perspective On An Effective Prayer Life

Almost two months ago, my church had a special weekend with a guest speaker, Dr. Gregory Frizzell. Dr. Frizzell has served as the Prayer and Spiritual Awakening Specialist for the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma for the past ten years. He is an "expert" in the areas of church renewal and revival, specifically in the area of prayer. He is also the author of numerous books on these topics including the following: Biblical Patterns for Powerful Church Prayer Meetings, How to Develop a Powerful Prayer Life, Releasing the Revival Flood - Revised Edition, Returning to Holiness, and Seeking God to Seek a Pastor.

This final book by Dr. Frizzell was the primary reason we asked him to speak to our church congregation. Our church body is in the process of seeking a new pastor, and members of our pastor search committee have been reading his book. Dr. Frizzell understands the impact of a powerful prayer life on our personal spiritual lives as well as our corporate church body. He challenged our church leaders to undertake the task of going deeper in the their walk with Christ. If they would be willing to do this, the spiritual life of the church would be transformed, and then we would be prepared for God's man as our next pastor.

Deep, Abiding Prayer Is The Goal, Not The List

What I came away with during this weekend with Dr. Frizzell is that God is more concerned about a deep, abiding relationship with us as believers. He's still concerned about our physical needs, but He'd probably rather not hear our long prayer list each and every day. The real goal of this type of deep, abiding prayer is to go deeper with God Almighty. It is the type of prayer life that says, "God, I surrender. You can have all of me. What are some things that I need to give up to grow in my relationship with You? I'm not going to hold any part of myself back from You!"

Too many times as Christians, we want to compartmentalize our spiritual lives. We give God His particular space and tell Him, "OK, God. I'm going to give You this much space in my life, but pretty please, don't mess with these other parts; areas such as my career, my thought life, my friends, my secret sins, and so on."

In a deep, abiding prayer life, we allow God to invade every nook and cranny of us. Instead of compartmentalizing our lives, we start shining the light of God's Word on all areas. We start asking God questions like "Lord, are You convicting me about some TV shows I shouldn't be watching or songs on the radio I shouldn't be listening to? Are there some habits in my life that are damaging my relationship with You?"

This type of personal, introspective prayer life brings about spiritual transformation and renewal. As a result, individual, surrendered believers begin to live holy lives, making an impact on those around them. In an individual church, the more leaders praying this way will transform a church. The more churches across the country being transformed in this way begins impacting the nation and even the entire world. This is how revival breaks out!

How's Your Prayer Life?

Honestly, this type of prayer life is challenging for me. I typically have a difficult time quieting my mind down enough to meditate on the Lord and His Word. I'm always thinking about multiple things at the same time. I'm also a list keeper and always have been. I'm wired that way. So, when I have quieted my mind down enough to pray, my default action is to pray through a list. I've never had anyone ever come along and challenge me on my prayer life in this way. For now though, I've pretty much chucked my list. I've put it on hold as I seek to draw closer to God through a deep, abiding prayer life. I certainly haven't arrived yet, but I'm working on it!

So, how's your prayer life? Are you a two-minutes-a-day prayer warrior, working through a list as fast as possible? What do think of this deep, abiding, surrender prayer stuff? Perhaps, our Lord was addressing this very issue in Matthew 6:31-34 when He told the people:
"So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own."
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