Prayer Changes us

Readings for this week July 9 – 13

Click here for a pdf of this week’s readings

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Day 1 – “Teach Us How to Pray”

Silence, Stillness and Centering before God (2 minutes)

Scripture Reading – Luke 11:1-4

The disciples were people who knew what prayer was. They came from a culture that valued and encouraged prayer,that saw prayer as a vital element in their relationship with God, and a key element in binding their community together. Prayer for them had both an individual and corporate role. They were soaked in prayer, and had been all their lives.

And yet here they are specifically asking Jesus to teach them how to pray. They knew that even with all their experience, even with all the habits and rituals and skills they had observed, learnt and practiced in their lives, they still had so much to learn about prayer – especially after they had witnessed the prayer relationship that Jesus had with his heavenly Father. They knew, however disciplined and effective their prayer life may have been, there was more that they could do, more of their lives that they could open up to the love and power of God.

We know that no matter how close we are to God, how intimate our relationship is, God is always looking to give more of Himself to us. There is more of God to explore. Therefore, regardless of how good we think our prayer life is there is always more that can be done to open ourselves up to God. We must make sure we don’t get complacent, or think that we already know it all, or get stuck in a comfortable rut. We should always be asking “Lord, teach me how to pray.”

Question to Consider

What would you ask God to teach you about prayer? Why? How/what has he taught you in the past?

Prayer

Lord God, teach me how to more open to you in every moment of my day. Show me how I can move into deeper ways of prayer. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Conclude with Silence (2 minutes)


Day 2 – A Deeper Experience

Silence, Stillness and Centering before God (2 minutes)

Scripture Reading – Psalm 19:14

Like the disciples, we can always learn something new about prayer and about how we pray, and about how we can pray if we wish to. If we already have a good prayer rhythm in our life, whatever that rhythm is, whatever types of prayer work for us, then that is to be celebrated, and continued with – but even in this situation there is still room for new things, new twists, a tweak here and there. Maybe God wants to reach you through a new addition to an old way of prayer. Like the disciples, we must always seek to be taught how to pray. Perhaps there is something new and fresh God wants to do through a new addition to your prayer rhythms.

Or perhaps the prayer rhythm of your life is a little ragged or irregular. Perhaps you struggle to establish a consistent rhythm of prayer, or can’t seem to find a type of prayer that connects with God as deeply as you would like. Perhaps finding time for prayer is the issue. Hopefully somewhere in the Prayer Changes Us series you have been introduced to a style of prayer – or several styles of prayer – that may be of some benefit for you. Perhaps there are new methods of prayer or new structures upon which to hang prayer that you might be able to experiment with, whether alone or with others.

Whatever the case for you, find someone to talk to about prayer – even better, find someone to pray with! – so that you, like the disciples, can find a deeper connection with God through prayer.

Question to Consider

What might God be asking you to do with your prayer rhythms?

Prayer

Heavenly Father, show how you want me to come to you. Reveal new and deeper ways into your presence and give me the courage to follow them through. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Conclude with Silence (2 minutes)


Day 3 – The Rhythms of Life

Silence, Stillness and Centering before God (2 minutes)

Scripture Reading – Matthew 11:28-30

We all have rhythms and routines in our lives. Many of them are rhythms that we have consciously chosen to adopt because we think that in some way they add to our lives, they give us stability, they allow us space to relax or grow or work. Others are rhythms and routines that sneak into our lives, rhythms that we may not have deliberately chosen, but that we don’t discourage: rhythms imposed by work, or by advertising, or by the culture around us, routines that we have subconsciously bought into in some way and that we may not even be aware of.

If our entire lives are acts of worship, if every moment is a moment in which we posture and position ourselves in some way, then at each moment we need to ask ourselves “Towards what am I positioning myself with this particular action/speech/thought of mine? How is what I am doing/saying right now helping position me to be receptive to whatever God might want to say to me/do through me?”

So much of this positioning is dependent on the way in which we position ourselves in prayer, because prayer is an action and an attitude that helps us set the other rhythms and routines in our lives. A rhythm of prayer – whatever that rhythm looks like, whatever pattern it takes, however frequently it occurs – is a powerful thing that allows for so much more of our lives to be lived in a right posture towards God.

Question to Consider

How important are rhythms and routines in your life? What unconscious rhythms have you adopted that you might need to address?

Prayer

Almighty Father, make me mindful of each minute I have; help me always position myself towards you and the path you want me to take. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Conclude with Silence (2 minutes)


Day 4 – Posture

Silence, Stillness and Centering before God (2 minutes)

Scripture Reading – Hebrews 4:16

“I cannot “choose” to fall asleep. The best I can do is choose to put myself in a posture and a rhythm that welcomes sleep. “I lie down in bed, on my left side, with my knees drawn up; I close my eyes and breathe slowly, putting my plans out of my mind. But the power of my will or consciousness stops there” (PP 189). I want to go to sleep, and I’ve chosen to climb into bed – but in another sense sleep is not something under my control or at my beckoned call. “I call up the visitation of sleep by imitating the breathing and the posture of the sleeper….There is a moment when sleep ‘comes’, settling on this imitation of itself which I have been offering to it, and I succeed in becoming what I was trying to be” (PP 189-90, emphasis added). Sleep is a gift to be received, not a decision to be made. And yet it is a gift that requires a posture of reception – a kind of active welcome. What if being filled with the Spirit had the same dynamic? What if Christian practices are what Craig Dykstra calls “habitations of the Spirit” precisely because they posture us to be filled and sanctified? What if we need to first adopt a bodily posture in order to become what we are trying to be?”

James K. A. Smith, Imagining the Kingdom: How Worship Works, Cultural Liturgies Volume 2, p.65, quoting from Maurice Merleau-Ponty, Phenomenology of Perception (PP).

Question to Consider

What are you trying to be? How are you positioned for this? How would God want you positioned?

Prayer

Gracious Lord, I know you are waiting to speak to me, to descend upon me, to fill me again with your Spirit. May I be receptive, may I learn how to position myself towards you in all I do. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Conclude with Silence (2 minutes)


Day 5 – The Prayer of the Beloved Child

Silence, Stillness and Centering before God (2 minutes)

Scripture Reading – Psalm 84:10-12

Intercession. Examen. Confession. Lectio divina. Discipline. Forgiveness. Posture. Rhythm. Transformation. Communal prayer. There is much ground that has been covered in this series on prayer, much that we have been reminded of and much that we have been introduced to. Maybe there is much that we need to change in our prayer habits; maybe we have been encouraged simply to make a few small tweaks. Perhaps there are rhythms we need to incorporate into our lives; maybe we are being prompted to join together more often with others. Whatever the case, let us all continue to seek God, to grow in God, to fall deeper into God as we seek to follow him in each and every moment.

Prayer

Loving Father,

I come to you again as your beloved child,

as one loved by you and as one longing to love you.

I confess my sins and my failings to you,

and turn back to you from my occasional turnings away,

asking for your forgiveness for the times I have strayed.

Guide me in my turning back. Take me and position me

in the path of your ever moving Spirit. I open myself to you,

I take up the posture of a humble seeker after you;

fill me and lead me again.

Deepen my times of prayer, reveal yourself anew, and

give me a renewed love for your people and your creation.

In the precious name of Jesus,

The one who intercedes for us,

Amen.

Conclude with Silence (2 minutes)