Prayer is where the power is. Strong, vibrant, meaningful Sabbath Schools need members who have a strong prayer life. The goal of our new focus for the Groups section is to provide resources that can help church members and their guests increase in the skills that produce meaningful prayer in both their personal communion with God and in a group setting. This time we focus on our part in the conversation with God.
Prayer is an integral part of the spiritual life of a Christian. There are many definitions of prayer out there: the “hot line” to heaven; a “nonstop conversation with heaven that begins in childhood”; the “heartbeat of the Christian faith.” And you may have other favorite definitions that “say it all” for you.
Many things motivate us to pray, including this short list:
- God’s personal invitation—Psalm 50:15.
- God’s promise to hear us—John 9:31; Proverbs 15:8.
- Our need—Luke 18:1; Philippians 4:6.
- Intercession for friends, loved ones—and enemies—Isaiah 26:16; Luke 18:13; Matthew 5:44.
- Knowing we can tell Him anything!— Mark 11:24 Philippians 4:6; 1 John 5:14.
We Speak; God Listens
We have guidelines, how-to instructions (Luke 11:1) for prayer, and the examples of mighty prayer warriors, including Daniel and the Savior Himself. We don’t serve a one-talent God. He has no one-talent children. For our part of the conversation, prayer can be a song in any key or timing, a rhyme, one word, an all-night conversation that tumbles forth between the lips or flashes from skilled fingers, etc., etc., etc.
Here are three of many options for connecting with Him:
1. ACTS—A pattern to remind you of the flow in conversation:
2. “Ask . . . seek . . . knock” (Matt. 7:7)
This is what Dorothy Eaton Watts refers to as “whole brain prayer” that engages us auditorily (ears), visually (eyes), and kinesthetically (body) (Prayer Treasures, pp. 28-33).
Ask: She says that a verbal exchange—“words we say in a verbal, auditory, abstract exchange”—is satisfying to about 20 percent of the population (p. 28). Example: the apostle Paul.
Seek: “Visual people want to see God or some evidence of His presence in their lives. About 40 percent of people need to experience God in this way” (p. 29). Example: Peter, the disciple.
Find: “The one who knocks wants to meet God, touch Him, feel Him, experience Him in his heart. About 40 percent of the population need to find God in this way” (p. 29). Example: the disciple Thomas. Ways to “knock” include these:
Praise (saying “I love You”)
- Recalling Scripture promises
- Watching (praying for protection for self, children, neighbors . . .)
- Petitions for self
- Meditation on one of God’s promises
3. The Text Tour
- Decide on the length of study.
- Choose one text that summarizes your current needs and desires. More than anything else at this stage of your life, what is it that you need from the Lord?
- Write your text on a 3” x 5” card. Put it in your visual hot spot.
- Memorize the text.
- Find or make graphics that illustrate your text.
- Write down the main words of your text and all the texts in a concordance that relate to the word in the context of the text.
- Each day choose one of these related texts for your meditation and read it from several different versions. Write the one that best speaks to you.
- Read the commentary insights on your main text.
- Search the Comprehensive Index to the Writings of Ellen G. White and read something about the text.
- Write what you feel God is trying to tell you in the text; then write out a prayer of response.
—Adapted from Dorothy Eaton Watts, Prayer Country
Thus far we have looked at the who of prayer: God and His children, as well as the what and how of prayer: the options. Now, let’s consider “where?” I think that some of our great old hymns give us insights to this question.
We sing “Anywhere with Jesus” in terms of comfort or protection. Let’s also apply the “anywhere” to prayer as well. Wherever we are the omniscient God is there. And He’s always willing to talk with us. Anywhere with Jesus I can safely—pray. There are other hymn-based examples.
Luke 18:1, “Men ought always to pray, and not to faint” (KJV) suggests that prayer time is always neither in peaceful times nor restful places. Wherever we desire to “have a little talk with Jesus” is a good time to have one.
Faith Johnson Crumbly
© 2014 General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists