Our discussion of Chapter 12, “Prayer”, totally involved every group member. Everyone had lots to contribute, and questions to ask, about prayer. We determined that the most difficult aspect was in remembering that it is His will, not our will. As we closed, we charged one another to pray daily and often for a smooth transition of power in Washington this week, and to also pray that everyone in the country open their eyes and hearts to God and truly unite as “one nation, under God”.
When living in a foreign country, it really helps to know some language of the country one is in. I had the opportunity to spend a seminary intern year in Guatemala, working in an English language Union Church with predominately American youth, most of whose parents worked for the US government, businesses, or mission agencies. I had taken German in high school, classical Greek in college, and Biblical Hebrew in seminary. Not real helpful for living in a Spanish speaking country!
The church secretary spoke fluent Spanish, Dutch and English. As youth director, I needed to be able to phone church families. Almost all the families had a maid answer the phone, who spoke only Spanish. So the secretary taught me to say in Spanish, “Podria hablar con Senora Jones?” (“May I please speak with Mrs. Jones?”) I made my first phone call with the secretary not far away. I used my Spanish phrase, but the maid didn’t get Mrs. Jones. She said something in Spanish, and I had no idea what! I repeated my memorized phrase, and again, had no idea what the other person said. After the third fruitless attempt, I got the church secretary. She rattled off in her flawless Spanish, and listened to the response. Then the secretary looked at me with condescension and said “You dialed the wrong number!”
Some people may come to church & never learn “the language” of believers–prayer. Prayer is to be a dialogue between us & God. It’s not enough to be like me when I first arrived in Guatemala–to know a few phrases to speak, but to have no idea what was said to me in return! If our only prayers to God are through an interpreter (a pastor or another believer), that’s a pretty limited conversation! We need to learn, and practice, listening to and talking with God!
My husband was in the intense care unit of the hospital after a massive heart
attack. The doctors told us that he would need by-pass surgery but he had only a 50/50 chance of surviving the surgery. My children and I were staying in the hospital around the clock. When I retired for the night on the floor of the intense care waiting room, I said my prayers. I didn’t feel I could ask God to save my husband’s life so I asked him to give me the courage and strength to accept his will. I felt a calm go through my body and a smile appear on my face. I didn’t know what tomorrow would bring but I would accept God’s will. My husband survived the surgery and lived for twenty-five years. Mary Lee Cochran
Our discussion on prayer led us to share different experiences that we have felt God answering our prayers. Norman retold us how God answered his prayer and brought him t)the U.S. (this story is told on the FPC blog). We also discussed the different ways that we pray to God.
Prayer is such an integral part of our relationship with God. Yet, we sometimes struggle to engage in prayer for various reasons. Finding time to pray is always a challenge in our busy lives. What do we say, and how do we say it can become a hindrance which keeps us from communicating with our Lord. A large part of engaging in the process of communication is listening. Sometimes we fail to just listen to what God is telling us. Sometimes we find it difficult to discern the difference between God’s desires and our own. We do know that in order to have a very close, personal relationship with our creator, we must keep the lines of communication open.
Our small group had a wide ranging discussion involving prayer in the context of our walk with Christ. Jesus showed us how to pray, and gave us his best prayer as an example. We agreed that at times we all struggle with what is “prayer worthy”. But, as long as we study the example of the life of Christ and strive to be like him, no more human baggage need be added. We talked about focused prayer, praying for “big things”, corporate prayers, intimate prayers, goofed up prayers when trying too hard, prayers to divest burdens, praying situationally when nothing else works, etc. We touched as well on answered prayers, but only when God’s perfect timing reveals His answer. We shared stories illustrating the power of prayer, and the promise of trusting prayer. A group member shared a powerful take-away from the Great Banquet when encouraged to leave your biggest burdens in prayer at the foot of the cross, leaving them there trusting that all prayers are answered, and resisting the temptation to take them on again to “help” God do His work. We agreed that we have an awesome opportunity to converse with God any time, anyplace, about anything. We also felt sadness knowing that there are so many who don’t have Christ in their life to trust in and know that he will never give you more than you can bear.
Enjoy “The Prayer”: