Monday, February 20, 2012

ABIDE! Challenge: Day 1 Encouragement

Thank you for committing yourself to spending an hour a day in prayer this week.  For some, it may be doing what you are already doing.  For some, this may be a true challenge.  Hang in there - don't get discouraged.  Even if you don't quite hit the hour mark, you have not failed.  Time spent with God in prayer is never a wasted effort.  If you are spending more time in prayer this week than you have before, the challenge will be well worth it.

Let me address a few things as we begin our week in prayer.  First of all, is it legalistic or wooden to schedule an hour of prayer?  Some can be unsettled by doing this.  Think for a moment about a marriage.  Let's say you know a couple who have been growing distant from each other and barely talk from day to day.  Would you oppose their idea to resolve their problem by setting aside an hour a day to sit down and talk together, or would you see this as a wonderful step in the right direction?  All relationships rise and fall on communication.  Prayer is a vital part of our communication with God.  If that communication has been lacking, scheduling an hour is a great step in the right direction.  I came across a survey that said that the average Christian prays for about 5 minutes a day.  So, I think a scheduled hour is appropriate.

Second of all, I want to encourage you in how you go about that hour of prayer.  I purposely do not want to set a lot of rules on this time, as it is between you and God.  However, I would strongly encourage you to spend that hour either in one chunk, or to divide it into two 30-minute blocks to start off.  Many times, as Christians, we like to say that we just pray a little bit throughout the day.  A minute here, two minutes there.  Continue to do that, but I would encourage you NOT to count that as a part of your hour.  Here's why.  Again, go back to a marriage.  It is wonderful when a married couple keeps in touch throughout the day with a quick phone call here and there just to say hello.  Those are special moments.  But if that is the only communication taking place, those moments are not special at all.  Paul Washer strongly reinforces this point in saying that those little moments throughout the day are to only be an outflow of time set aside with God in prayer.  You see, in a minute or two minute communication, you never attain real depth.  If your spouse never wanted to sit down and talk with you for extended period of time, but only gave you a moment here and a moment there, my guess is you would start to feel some distance.  Your heart would long for depth in your sharing together.  If you need to start with two 30-minute blocks - go for it.  But begin to work your way to making it one full hour by Thursday, and I believe you will begin to see a difference.

Lastly, I want to acknowledge a painful truth.  That truth is that all of us, heading into this challenge, already have every minute of our day accounted for.  Even if you spend time every day picking lint out of your belly button, you are already doing something every moment of the day.  So, making room for more time in prayer is going to involve the sacrifice of something you are currently doing.  Sadly, we cannot just add an extra hour to our day.  Something is going to have to go.  You may find yourself cutting down on a beloved hobby, or turning off a favorite TV show.  Those will be hard choices, but ask yourself, "Do I want this more than I want Jesus?"

You are all in my prayers as we begin this week together.  Maybe you are a prayer veteran, or perhaps this marks the beginning of a life of prayer for you.  Let us pray for one another and encourage one another.  And may the name of Jesus be exalted as we come before the throne of God in prayer.

If you have particular prayer requests that you would like your brothers and sisters to be lifting up, please feel free to post them on our Facebook page here.

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