Prayer Changes Us – Prayer & Action

Readings for this week June 4 – 8
Click here for a pdf of this week’s readings

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Day 1 – Missio Dei

Silence, Stillness and Centering before God (2 minutes)

Scripture Reading – 2 Corinthians 5:18-21

Mission cannot be motivated by fear or ingratitude, or because we feel obligated or forced to reach out to God’s creation.  There are many motivations we may have that spur us out into God’s world – some of them even noble and good – but motivation must come from the heart of God himself, something that can only happen if we are in direct contact with that heart. Prayer enables us to make that contact, that connection. Mission must be motivated by our love of God and our commitment to his way.

Mission springs from the heart of God – it is ultimately, after all, the Missio Dei, the mission of God. What we undertake when we engage in mission to the world and for the world, is the very mission of God himself. We do not invent it. We do not randomly make it up as we go along. We follow the God who acts in his world for the healing, restoration and renewal of his world, and we are empowered by the God who longs and acts for the benefit of his world. Our God motivated prayer and action together constitutes our work in the mission of God. We are a mission focused church, because we are a God focused church. We are a mission people because we are motivated and inspired by our love and commitment to God. Prayer connects us with the heart of God, and that heart inspires us into action for the world.

Questions to Consider
Why is it so important for us to remember that the mission is ultimately God’s mission? What happens if we don’t? How does remembering this help us in our task?

Prayer
Lord God, continue to inspire me into action for the world, your world. Help me remember that the mission is yours and that you call me to join you in your work, to complete what you set before me. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Conclude with Silence (2 minutes)


Day 2 – Contemplation and Action

Silence, Stillness and Centering before God (2 minutes)

Scripture Reading – Ephesians 1:18-23

We have seen that the mission of God is central to what we do as his faithful followers, but that we need actively to seek God and connect with him in order to be fully instructed and empowered to undertake this mission. Contemplative practices allow us to be more open to God and make it easier for us to completely abandon ourselves to God and surrender to him. It is only by completely surrendering to God that transformation can truly happen – transformation on the personal level, the community level, and the global level. If we are holding some part of ourselves back, or not surrendering some part of ourselves to God because we believe we know better and can do better, then transformation cannot happen – or at least not at the speed and to the depth that God wants.

Contemplation leads to just and compassionate action, and action that emerges from the heart of God leads back to further contemplation. They feed each other, lead to each other, and reinforce each other. Deeper contemplation of God reveals more of his heart, his love for this world and its people, and his desire to reach out and touch and heal people – and the Godly desires so revealed then spur us to action. Such action engages us deeply with the world and its people, so much so that the pain and loss and joy and hope that we experience there send us back into the God who comforts us, inspires us, and readies us to reach out to his world again.

Questions to Consider
How do contemplation and action figure in your life? What is the relationship between the two for you?

Prayer
Heavenly Father, help me connect contemplation and action together in a way that glorifies you, as I seek to do your will in the world. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Conclude with Silence (2 minutes)


Day 3 – Getting the Balance Right

Silence, Stillness and Centering before God (2 minutes)

Scripture Reading – 1 John 3:18

We know that prayer is vitally important in so many ways, a key element in our lives and a one of the main activities of anyone who is a disciple of Jesus. It is crucial in personal formation and transformation: unless we remain in God we will not be challenged and moulded and changed into the person we are called to become in him. Prayer is also crucially important for our actions in the world, towards others: without it we slowly detach ourselves from our role in the will of God for the world. We stagnate, and our faith becomes dry and inactive.

We are called to be about the work of the kingdom. So we pray and we act, we act and we pray. The two go together. But how do we make sure we get the balance right? Can we pray too much? Can our prayer detract from the kingdom work we are called to do?

It would be too strong to say we can pray too much – but only because we need to understand that our kingdom work is prayer too. If we are motivated by our love and commitment to our God, then the work that flows out of that close connection will also be prayer, will also be deep communion with God, that shapes and transforms us and that shares his love with others. If we are learning to embrace the possibility of seeing God in every moment – and of seeking him in every moment – then we will begin to see that prayer isn’t just internal to us but is also present in the work we undertake for the sake of the King and his kingdom.

Questions to Consider
How is your prayer life one of ‘active prayer’, a life where your ‘doing’ is itself prayer?

Prayer
Almighty Father, may my prayers lead to action, and may I find you in the actions I undertake for your sake. In Jesus’ name, Amen

Conclude with Silence (2 minutes)


Day 4 – Prayer Through Scripture

Silence, Stillness and Centering before God (2 minutes)

Scripture Reading – Psalm 1:1-3

We often think of praying and reading the Bible as two different, distinct activities. In a traditional ‘quiet time’ we might pray, and then read the Bible, or perhaps vice versa. One follows the other. And this is a perfectly legitimate way to engage with God. After all, our relationship with God cannot develop without consistent prayer and engagement with scripture. But the two can be combined in a different, more intimate way as well. With practise, we can learn to ‘pray scripture’; that is, we can use the words of scripture as an aid, a prompt and a springboard to a deeper experience of God.

Praying scripture allows us to become more confident in our prayers by allowing us to use the words of the Bible and the emotions and wisdom contained therein to strengthen our prayer life and thus deepen our connection with God. After all, God is revealed in scripture, and when we pray we are seeking connection and encounter with him, so using the scriptures he has provided us with in order to do this seems like a sensible thing to do. The words of scripture are a way into a deeper experience of God, and give him a chance to specifically speak to us through the passages of his word as we pray through them and with them, turning his word back into a prayer to him, at the same time as allowing it to speak to us. ‘Praying scripture’ gives an opportunity for God to reveal himself afresh to us and in us.

Questions to Consider
How do the people in the Bible use scripture in their relationship with God? How is this inspiration for us?

Prayer
Loving Father, breathe new life into my prayers. Show me new ways to connect with you, and new words to hear from you. Amen.

Conclude with Silence (2 minutes)


Day 5 – Praying the Bible

Silence, Stillness and Centering before God (2 minutes)

Scripture Reading – 2 Timothy 3:14-17

Although the Bible contains many wonderful prayers and psalms, we don’t just have to pray the prayers that are found in the Bible (although they are obviously fantastic aids to our own praying). We can pray through any particular passage of scripture: psalms, parables, stories, wisdom sayings, history, teachings, etc. There are many different ways we can do this and various ways in which the words of scripture can both become our prayer and inspire and direct our prayer. We can read ourselves into a story, putting ourselves into the scene, imagine our response to the events and people portrayed and pray through the emotions and thoughts that are stirred within us. We can meditate on a passage of teaching, turning the words over in our mind and mouth, dwelling on them and praying that the truth of God’s word take root in us, for example. There are so many ways we can use different types of scripture as a starting point for prayer.

Through the work of the Spirit, as we read and meditate and pray, we will be moved to turn the thoughts of the passage and how it relates to God, to our lives, our communities and our world, into prayer. The thoughts and emotions evoked as we engage with scripture will be turned more and more towards prayer, whether prayers of thanksgiving, confession, adoration, or supplication – or any combination of prayer. God will speak to us through his word, drawing us towards himself and nudging and prompting us towards the issues that are foremost on his heart.

Questions to Consider
How do you pray the Bible? How do you use passages of scripture in your prayer life? How might you incorporate more of the Bible in your life?

Prayer
Lord God, thank you for your word. Thank you that through study of and meditation on your holy scripture we can grow our relationship with you to a deeper, more intimate level. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Conclude with Silence (2 minutes)