“I want to go deeper in my prayer life, but I’m not sure how to start. What is my first step?”
Your first step is the one in front of you. I know that sounds like I’m out of the TV show Kung Fu, young grasshopper, but it is true. We all find ourselves at different starting points. That means that our first step is going to be our own; it is going to be very personal and unique to ourselves.
Your Image of God
And yet, there are some general guidelines that might apply to your case. A potential first might be your image of God. I cannot stress how important this is to get right. Not only because God deserves to be known as He has revealed Himself, but also because this will shape every subsequent step. If we are under the impression that God needs to be bribed into loving us, or manipulated into helping us, or placated when His “fragile ego” is bruised, then that will shape our prayer. This is the false image of the gods presented in the Greek and Roman myths: the gods were fickle, they couldn’t be trusted, their “love” was arbitrary. It is represented quite well in the recent movie The Clash of the Titans. In it, the main message is “The gods need us. We grow more powerful the less we pay attention to them.”
The Christian counterpoint to this could be expressed in the Catechism’s teaching that, “Whether we realize it or not, prayer is the encounter of God’s thirst with ours. God thirsts that we may thirst for Him” (CCC 2560). God’s “thirst” for us is not arbitrary or needy. In His perfect self-sufficiency, God has made the irrevocable decision to choose us. This decision (this love) is constant, true, and free.
God’s Image of You
A second helpful step might be God’s image of us. Ask the question, “What does God think of me?” If we think that we are merely an annoyance to God, this will shape our prayer (it may even cause us to avoid prayer entirely!). God’s image of you: you are completely unique in all of creation, you are precious to God, you are worth loving. That last piece is critical. I talk with many people who wrestle with this wound. They do not believe that they are worth loving… especially in their weakness and sin. This wound is in desperate need of healing and this lie is in desperate need of being exorcized.
Three Obstacles to Prayer
With these two thoughts in mind, there is a need to take the following step: in spite of the fact that God is infinitely patient with us and has irrevocably chosen us, it is our task to remove any known obstacles between us and God. Here are three possible obstacles: pride, unforgiveness, and distraction.
1. To root out pride, we must become humble. This doesn’t mean thinking, “I’m so small, so bad, so inconsequential.” It simply means telling the truth. And the first truth is that there is a God, and you are not Him. It means acknowledging that there is Someone infinitely “bigger” and infinitely better than you. And that this Someone believes that you are worth loving. Humility always tells the whole truth; the happy truths and the hard truths. To know if you are humble, ask yourself, “Am I open to being taught, or do I resent instruction and correction?”
2. The refusal to forgive hardens our hearts to God, to others, and even makes it difficult to know ourselves. If I am aware that I hold bitterness in my heart, I need to make some effort to express that I am choosing to forgive. This can be extremely difficult (and will most likely have to be repeated many times in some cases!). Remember, forgiveness is not excusing someone’s actions, and it is not ignoring real pain. It is the choice to “will the good of the other.” While our emotions can still be inflamed, our decision to pray for someone’s eternal soul (we could say “praying for their conversion…praying that God’s will is done in their life”) not only fulfills our Lord’s command, but frees us.
3. Distractions can be anything that diverts our attention from what or who should have our attention at a given moment. Sometimes we utilize diversions for entertainment and stress relief; that’s great. If recreation is what we should be doing, then games or entertainment aren’t the wrong thing… they’re the right thing. But if I invite distractions in so that I don’t have to think about the present, then I am most likely keeping God out of the moment and out of my life. This step is nothing more than the “living deliberately” of which Thoreau wrote.
Keep in mind that these are just some very simple beginning steps. None of them can be taken without grace; that is, without the help of God. But remember, God wants to help you take each of these steps. And He is infinitely patient with us while we are learning to walk.
Struggling to focus can be a result of all different factors. Stress, anxiety, and sleep deprivation are just some of the factors that come to mind. I’m sure that you can think of your own list and perhaps you even have it nailed down to the details.
Last night I worked late as I’m trying to meet a book editing deadline. I’ve found that the later it gets, the harder it is for me to stay focused. It’s a new day today and I desperately need to stay on task and knock out my to-do list. Today I wanted to share my prayer for focus with you.
A Prayer for Focus
Dear Heavenly Father,
Thank you for the gift of thought processes.
Today I praise you for human minds.
To understand the magnitude of your power
Is beyond my comprehension,
Yet every detail of the world is under your care.
Lord, sometimes my mind grows cloudy
With the cares of this world.
The fog sets in and I can’t think clearly.
I need you, the Light of the World,
Because my eyes grow so dim in the dark.
Would you help me stay focused on your light?
Would you provide clarity and make it bright?
For when I get a tiny glimpse
Of a life led by your shine,
I realize with each beaming ray
I want that life to be mine.
In Jesus’ name,
Have a terrific Tuesday!!
Bible in 90 Days – A different kind of prayer initiative!
Praying & Washing in the Word Daily for the last three months of the year. ASKING for Scripture and Scripture Access to be available for the Every & All.
Praying in one accord,
“Lord, Close the gap that we might see Scripture (FULL BIBLES) and Scripture Access for everyone across the globe. Praying Luke 10:2 & Matthew 9:37-38, Send the laborers into His harvest fields.”
As we move into the last 90 days of 2018, we begin by asking you a couple of questions.
Do we understand the need to influence the body of Christ to not only “see” Oral Communicators, but see them as a huge critical piece of great importance in God’s plan?
Could the real issue be our unwillingness to acknowledge “we” are not the answer to completing the Great Commission, His answer is in the Harvest!
Do we really believe the Word of God is the very center of who we are as the sons of God, understanding this is not a gender, but an identity issue? And the Word, the full and complete Bible is critical to everything we are and necessary for all we do?
In the biblical model of the relationship shown in the Bible, with God, we are always the sons of God. His desire is for us to have an intimate relationship with Him that produces fruit. The biblical worldview is not just having one’s personal faith, it is having an all-consuming way of life, applicable to all areas of our life, that produces life. The outcome of the words of Jesus from what is called the Great Commandment in Matthew 22:36-40, moving from a Mark 16 mentality of “taking care of the people of God” to becoming one with His Great Commission spoken of in Matthew 28:16-20. This pattern honors and gives God glory. Can we join together over these next three months to pray that priority?
If at the core of everything our priority is to bring God glory, then let us begin.
A United Call for Prayer:
“Devote yourselves to prayer being watchful and thankful… that we may proclaim the mystery of Christ.” Colossians 4:2-4
We invite you to join in this 90 Days Prayer Initiative. You can join in with us at any time during the 90 days.
For more info: believe we must make EVERY EFFORT to bring Scripture (complete full Bible) to the EVERY & ALL in a way that can REALLY BE RECEIVED. We must make every effort to bring the Gospel in a way that can REALLY BE HEARD.
To bring the Gospel in a way that can REALLY be heard and received with the common goal of making God’s Word available to oral communicators in culturally appropriate ways that enable church planting movements everywhere. This will require the Church to move back to the way God began. . . He spoke everything into existence. We acknowledge and recognize GOD IS INDEED AN ORAL COMMUNICATOR!
We want to be active in this prayer initiative to let the Word of God be released into the atmosphere as we listen to our devices whenever possible. As you ride in your car or sit in your favorite spot for your morning or nightly devotional time, we invite you to allow the Word of God to permeate the atmosphere.
Allow Scripture Engagement to happen in a new way! Go Oral – Just Listen – Don’t analyze. Let the Word of God wash over you, body, soul and spirit so to speak, as you listen.
We pray in unity,
“Pray for us that the Word of God may run and be glorified, even as also it is with you.” 2 Thessalonians 3:1 and “He sends His command on the earth; His Word runs swiftly.” Psalm 147:15
Over the next 90 Days we LISTEN, we PRAY:
- Listen for clarity, allow yourself to be absorbed in the Scripture as you listen
- Listen for God to connect His Word together as one whole story for you
- Listen for a sense of gratefulness in having the Word of God available and realizing that so many people groups (1,500+) do not have ONE VERSE of Scripture in their heart language and mother tongue.
- Praying for Oral Peoples & Oral Bibleless People Groups
- Praying for the new generation of Orality workers who will enable every Oral Communicator to become a Christ follower who is a disciple making disciples
- Praying for those working in Orality/UUPGs & Great Commission Partner groups
- Praying for the Bibleless around the globe
- Praying for Bible Translation groups who are working tirelessly to complete Scripture projects in every mother tongue
- Praying for a new generation of Bible Translators who can move the work forward in the accelerated manner needed to get the Word of God to the every and all
God, we ask You, to teach us to ask the right questions so we might know how to pray more effectively:
- How can we make disciples without the Scripture, the Word of God
- How do we pray for these people groups that do not have ONE VERSE of Scripture?
- How do we understand and have compassion for them in how they might be able to really receive the gift of God if we do not take fully take into consideration the need to fully understand and receive at a heart level so that transformation can happen?
For over five years ION has taken the last three months of the year in united prayer as we listen to the Bible in Audio format, using our ear gates to listen, and we remember all the souls who as yet, still do not have the Scriptures in their heart language and mother tongue.
We are asking God to allow us to understand what it is like for oral peoples who sometimes prefer use their ear gates to receive information. For those who are blind, for those who are deaf and cannot hear in the way “we think of”, but who desperately are in need of His Scriptures. . . In a way they can really hear and receive.
That looks differently for different peoples, but the reality is: 1,500+ people groups do not have ONE VERSE of Scripture and for the vast majority of the globe, they do not have access to the Word of God.
Only 8% of the world have the full Bible. (4.2.20 Foundation)
80% of the world’s population are oral communicators –people who do not read, or prefer to learn by oral-visual means.
Praying for the Orality Network
We invite you to pray with us for the next ION Regional Event:
Find out more: class=”m_6584147953961893845p1″>We invite you to continue to pray each month for the Orality Network (ION) as God continues to grow us. As you pray, for informed intercession, we invited you to visit the Orality website and as you go through the different areas of the website, please PRAY.
PRAY for each of the orality events. Link into these events as you are able. Pray for how ION works and who is involved. To help you to strategically pray for the way God is providing for more organization of the work of orality. Thank you for linking and connecting in prayer.
This organizational model allows everyone to find their place. It also allows for the different gateways and pathways to be accessed by individuals & organizations and agencies. Each one can find their function and are encouraged to work in more than one gateway if that if that is what God is calling them to in His work.
Praying alongside ION Partners
We continue to ask you to learn more about ION & its partners. To collaborate together and see God’s activity and join Him there, where ever possible. Let’s look at “What does it look like to see God as an oral communicator?”
The Center for Oral Scriptures (COS) released the “Master Storyteller“, its purpose is to help us to reconnect and see how God is the master storyteller. While we recognize that Orality is not just storytelling, it is about His Story being shared and used to reach the every and all in various ways. Look at the different gateways and pathways and how Orality is being used. This might be a way for you to share with others how to look at why Orality is key to everything we do.
GOD’S ORAL COMMUNICATION ~ IN THE BIBLE AND HEBREW TRADITION ~ A BOOK, SHORT FILMS & INTERACTIVE LEARNING PLATFORM
Center for Oral Scriptures (COS), is a program of the 4.2.20 Foundation.
Getting Connected in Global Prayer
The Seed Company (TSCO) CLICK to visit
OVER ONE BILLION PEOPLE ARE STILL BIBLELESS.
Take a moment to let that sink in.
God is opening up opportunities to partner together in prayer in greater ways. We want you to learn about what is going on in prayer and missions and ask you to link together to pray for projects for Oral Bibles and for UUPGs thru the group, The Seed Company (TSCO) which is a part of the Wycliffe Bible Translation family.
Here are two ways to do that:
- Join PRAY for ZERO by texting and write PRAY in the message. You will get an immediate response.
- Consider connecting monthly to the TSCO Aroma Call: We invite you to hop on the monthly call as you are able and learn how to pray more effectively for Bibleless Peoples. Pray for ZERO –
My life is worth nothing to me unless I use it for finishing the work assigned me by the Lord Jesus — the work of telling others the Good News about the wonderful grace of God. — Acts 20:24
The Call is held the First Thursday of each month at 4pm CDT.
Exciting News from ION:
We invite you to pick up your copy of the new ION book, “Praying for the Oral and Oral Bibleless People Groups” which is now available in print and in a free digital version.
The print copy format is offered in print on demand for an “at cost” amount. There are two different versions: $10 for “Full Color” & $7 for “B&W” available for purchase on Amazon: those of you who prefer the digital eBook version is it available for free on the ION Orality.net website: Prayer focus issues