Prayer Changes Us – Always More

Readings for this week June 11 – 17
Click here for a pdf of this week’s readings

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Day 1 – Going Deeper

Silence, Stillness and Centering before God (2 minutes)

Scripture Reading – Ephesians 1:15-19a

There is always more of God to encounter and experience. He has more of himself to share with us, more of his hopes to inspire us with, and bigger and greater plans for his creation that he wants us to be a part of. We will never reach the end of him – there are always new depths that he longs to reveal to us. What we need to do in order to experience the hopes and plans and depths of God is to willingly dive deeper into him.

All of us can take the plunge into God, all of us can strive to go deeper. Such a dive will not be the same for everyone as we are all diving from different places and from different positions, and such a plunge into the being of God will not be done the same way by all of us. Each of us, in the individual walk we have with God and in the midst of the different communities we are part of, will go deeper into God in different ways. But common to all these ways and means and methods will be prayer and the other related disciplines of the committed disciple.

There are new, deeper ways of prayer that we can try, as well as new rhythms, both individual and corporate, that can lead us deeper into God. Opening up our lives through deeper prayer will show us that there is more of God waiting for us.

Questions to Consider
How might God be asking you to go deeper into him in prayer? How can you do this? How might others help you?

Prayer
Heavenly Father, take me deeper into you. Reveal more of yourself to me. Make my prayer life a road to a deeper experience of you. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Conclude with Silence (2 minutes)


Day 2 – Abandoning Ourselves to God

Silence, Stillness and Centering before God (2 minutes)

Scripture Reading – Jeremiah 29:12-13

The deeper experience of God talked about in yesterday’s reading doesn’t just happen on its own. New ways of prayer and new spiritual practices and rhythms require something from us in order to be realised. One of the things we need to do (and we need to do it constantly, not just once) is wholly abandon ourselves to God. We need to hold nothing of ourselves back, but fully plunge into God, committing ourselves to him, trusting ourselves to his care, and offering everything we are at any and every given moment to his love.

This isn’t an easy thing to do. We always want to have control, or at the very least, retain an element of control over some portion of ourselves and our lives. We struggle to let go, afraid that maybe we won’t get ourselves back, or that the self we get back will be different, changed. And so we often settle for the comfort of what we know, the life we already have, the rhythms and practices and lifestyle that have served us for so long. We don’t risk, we don’t take a chance, we don’t put ourselves in God’s hands because of fear that, heaven forbid, we might be changed in the process.

But isn’t that part of what we truly need? To be different, to be transformed, to be moulded. Changed, yes, but not unrecognisably so. We will still be us, but a renewed, changed us. With more of God, there will be more of us – a transformed us.

Questions to Consider
What stops you trusting God? What stops you from offering yourself in total abandonment to him?

Prayer
Almighty Father, take away any fear and trepidation I may have, anything stopping me taking the plunge, and help me take the plunge into you. Help me trust you more. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Conclude with Silence (2 minutes)


Day 3 – Around and Around and Around

Silence, Stillness and Centering before God (2 minutes)

Scripture Reading – Isaiah 64:5-9

Abandoning ourselves to God can often seem scary. We’re not sure what will happen. We know he loves us, and wants to change us for the better, but we are uncertain about how he will do this. Maybe it will hurt a bit – actually, there’s no ‘maybe’ about it. There will be some pain as we are moulded and changed by God, because we cannot do it ourselves. There will be parts of ourselves we would rather leave as they are. When we fully abandon ourselves to God we have to let him take over. Because he made us, he knows us intimately. He sees the ‘end product’ and the best way to get us there. And he is the only one who can bring lasting change in us.

We are like lumps of clay on the potter’s wheel. God (the potter) shapes us to be the people we were created to be. We need to allow God to mould us. It will be painful at times as bits of us are pushed about or taken away. But because we can trust God’s love, we can allow him to do this no matter how hard it is. We are in the very best hands.

This process isn’t easy. Being transformed can be painful, but even though it’s hard we have to let God do it. We need to get on the wheel – again and again and again. As one part of the remoulding and remaking process ends, another begins. As one part of our brokenness is healed in preparation for use in God’s kingdom work, another part of us breaks open, ready to be moulded and shaped for his pleasure and his purposes.

Questions to Consider
Have you ever felt like jumping off God’s wheel? What keeps you there?

Prayer
Loving Father, stay with me. Keep me on the wheel. Mould me and make me, give me strength to remain in you when the process feels like it’s too much. Change me. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Conclude with Silence (2 minutes)


Day 4 – Moment by Moment

Silence, Stillness and Centering before God (2 minutes)

Scripture Reading – 2 Corinthians 4:16-18

The transformation we have been addressing this week doesn’t often happen quickly; it’s usually something that God works in us bit by bit, day by day. Because of this, because of the extended time frame in which we are changed, the journey of transformation is a deliberate journey that we must choose to take, again and again. Change occurs in a continuing accrual of moments and thoughts and events that combine to make up a life. Never all at once, but a sequence of many tiny, yet significant, moments. And that means deliberately choosing, every day, every moment, to submit ourselves to the transforming love of our God.

We need to commit ourselves to changing, but at the same time realise that this change originates from God. The primary transformation is the one brought by God himself, through his Spirit in us. Yes, we do still get to make choices and decisions; we do still have what might be called a “duty of moral effort”; we do get to be intimately involved in this process of change – because it is, after all, us that is being changed. But our primary contribution is one of obedience and submission. We need to die to ourselves. This means we have to let go of our lives and let God take charge. Each day we leave behind what we want and let God continue his transforming process in us. God is transforming us every day that we let him, and we know, as Philippians 1:6 says, “that he who began a good work in [us] will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.”

Questions to Consider
Looking back, what areas of your life have you seen God transforming? How are you more willing to submit to God throughout this process?

Prayer
God, Lord of All, thank you for your transforming love. Help me make those decisions to place myself in your hands moment by moment. Amen.

Conclude with Silence (2 minutes)


Day 5 – Prayer and Deepening Self-Awareness

Silence, Stillness and Centering before God (2 minutes)

Scripture Reading – Psalm 139:13-16

Prayer leads to a greater experience of God and therefore to a deeper knowledge of God, his mind, his heart and his ways. But as well as leading deeper into God, prayer also leads us deeper into ourselves. One of the gifts that prayer bestows upon us is the gift of self-awareness. We are only truly known in God, but we are not just known by God: we also become known to ourselves. As our true status as a beloved child of God is affirmed – and reaffirmed – through encounter with our Heavenly Father, we also become more aware of who we are as his child. He speaks to us and tells us who we are – who we truly are – and, if we will listen, we come to know ourselves better the more we listen to the voice of the one who made us.

Whether it’s through the growth of the fruits of the Spirit in us, the refining fire that burns away our iniquities and imperfections, or numerous turns on the potter’s wheel, we are transformed and changed more and more into the person God wants us to be. We become more aware of who we are in God, what gifts he is growing in us, his plans for us – and so we become more aware of ourselves, how we operate, what makes us tick, where we fit, what God wants us to do. We aren’t seeking God through prayer just to achieve some sort of personal self-actualisation for our own benefit. We are doing so in order to become our God-created selves for his glory and for the growth of his kingdom in us and in his world.

Questions to Consider
How is prayer helping you become more self-aware? How is your prayer life contributing to personal change in you?

Prayer
Lord God, thank you for not only making me, but for shaping me and helping me see who I really am in you. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Conclude with Silence (2 minutes)