Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Prayer for Beginners- How to Cultivate the Discipline of Prayer

Joining in today with Ann at Holy Experience in discussing the discipline of Prayer.

holy experience



I definitely do not join in on this discussion as someone who has arrived in this area, rather as someone who is increasingly aware of my desperate need to commune more consistently with my Precious Heavenly Father.

My heart so often lies malnourished due to my stubborn busyness and pursuit of things that I deem "needful" throughout the day.

Two things that I have found to be fundamental in slowing me down and turning my heart toward true Sustenance.

1. I mentioned this yesterday, but it bears mentioning again, the 60/60 challenge that I am taking part in. Here's the challenge: Set your watch to chime every hour and use that small prompt to turn your heart and thoughts heavenward. The second part of the "60/60" refers to the duration of the challenge~ 60 days.

I can already tell you that I do not wish to stop when two months are up. My desire is that I would eventually "pray without ceasing" on my own, but for now, my stubborn self needs these little prompts. This has been *so* good for me.

The amusing thing about this challenge for me has been that there have been quite a few times that I have caught myself looking at my watch wondering if my watch was about to beep so I could pray again~ looking forward to communing with my Precious Savior. As though I couldn't go to Him at any time! Silly me!

2. The following quote from George Mueller, the founder of the famous faith-based orphanages in England has been very instrumental in changing my focus in praying. I have been putting his thoughts into practice not only during my morning time with the Lord, but also throughout the day. Such a fabulous way to feed my soul... this is not "work," but rather an outpouring of love for the grace given me....


"While I was staying at Nailsworth, it pleased the Lord to teach me a truth, irrespective of human instrumentality, as far as I know, the benefit of which I have not lost though now. . .more than forty years have since passed away.

"The point is this: I saw more clearly than ever, that the first great and primary business to which I ought to attend every day was, to have my soul happy in the Lord. The first thing to be concerned about was not, how much I might serve the Lord, how I might glorify the Lord; but how I might get my soul into a happy state, and how my inner man might be nourished. For I might seek to set the truth before the unconverted, I might seek to benefit believers, I might seek to relieve the distressed, I might in other ways seek to behave myself as it becomes a child of God in this world; and yet, not being happy in the Lord, and not being nourished and strengthened in my inner man day by day, all this might not be attended to in a right spirit.

"Before this time my practice had been, at least ten years previously, as an habitual thing, to give myself to prayer, after having dressed in the morning. Now I saw that the most important thing I had to do was to give myself to the reading of the Word of God and to meditation on it, that thus my heart might be comforted, encouraged, warned, reproved, instructed; and that thus, whilst meditating, my heart might be brought into experimental, communion with the Lord. I began therefore, to meditate on the New Testament, from the beginning, early in the morning.

"The first thing I did, after having asked in a few words the Lord’s blessing upon His precious Word, was to begin to meditate on the Word of God; searching, as it were, into every verse, to get blessing out of it; not for the sake of the public ministry of the Word; not for the sake of preaching on what I had meditated upon; but for the sake of obtaining food for my own soul. The result I have found to be almost invariably this, that after a very few minutes my soul has been led to confession, or to thanksgiving, or to intercession, or to supplication; so that though I did not, as it were, give myself to prayer, but to meditation, yet it turned almost immediately more or less into prayer. When thus I have been for awhile making confession, or intercession, or supplication, or have given thanks, I go on to the next words or verse, turning all, as I go on, into prayer for myself or others, as the Word may lead to it; but still continually keeping before me, that food for my own soul is the object of my meditation. The result of this is, that there is always a good deal of confession, thanksgiving, supplication, or intercession mingled with my meditation, and that my inner man almost invariably is even sensibly nourished and strengthened and that by breakfast time, with rare exceptions, I am in a peaceful if not happy state of heart. Thus also the Lord is pleased to communicate unto me that which, very soon after, I have found to become food for other believers, though it was not for the sake of the public ministry of the Word that I gave myself to meditation, but for the profit of my own inner man.

"The difference between my former practice and my present one is this. Formerly, when I rose, I began to pray as soon as possible, and generally spent all my time till breakfast in prayer, or almost all the time. At all events I almost invariably began with prayer. . .But what was the result? I often spent a quarter of an hour, or half an hour, or even an hour on my knees, before being conscious to myself of having derived comfort, encouragement, humbling of soul, etc.; and often after having suffered much from wandering of mind for the first ten minutes, or a quarter of an hour, or even half an hour, I only then began really to pray.

"I scarcely ever suffer now in this way. For my heart being nourished by the truth, being brought into experimental fellowship with God, I speak to my Father, and to my Friend (vile though I am, and unworthy of it) about the things that He has brought before me in His precious Word.

"It often now astonishes me that I did not sooner see this. In no book did I ever read about it. No public ministry ever brought the matter before me. No private intercourse with a brother stirred me up to this matter. And yet now, since God has taught me this point, it is as plain to me as anything, that the first thing the child of God has to do morning by morning is to obtain food for his inner man.

"As the outward man is not fit for work for any length of time, except we take food, and as this is one of the first things we do in the morning, so it should be with the inner man. We should take food for that, as every one must allow. What is the food for the inner man: not prayer, but the Word of God, so that it not only passes through our minds, just as water runs through a pipe, but considering what we read, pondering over it, and applying it to our hearts. . .

"I dwell so particularly on this point because of the immense spiritual profit and refreshment I am conscious of having derived from it myself, and I affectionately and solemnly beseech all my fellow-believers to ponder this matter. By the blessing of God I ascribe to this mode the help and strength I have had from God to pass in peace through deeper trials in various ways than I had ever had before; and after having now above forty years tried this way, I can most fully, in the fear of God, commend it. How different when the soul is refreshed and made happy early in the morning, from what it is when, without spiritual preparation, the service, the trials and the temptations of the day come upon one!"


~ George Mueller



Here's to finding delight and true heart-fulfillment in the Lord~ not from a sense of duty, but from total delight and joy in all of the gifts given so freely to us!

Seeking Him alongside you and learning to pray in baby-steps,
Susan

7 comments:

  1. I think all of us still relate to being "beginners" when it comes to prayer, no matter how long we've been praying. The closer we get to the Father, the more grand we realize he is. Baby-steps. Thanks for your post.

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  2. We are all on a beautiful journey ... walking closer to Him...
    Stopping by to say hello from Walk with Him Wed.
    all the best, Maria

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  3. i like this idea of the 60/60 challenge. thank you so much for sharing. xox

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  4. Loved this quote from George Mueller. Such a great challenge along with the 60/60. Also, do you do Precept. I see your Bible is all marked up. :-)

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  5. Hi Linda,

    Yes, I do love Precept Ministries and inductive Bible study~ plumbing the riches of God's Word. It's rich. And I am certainly needful!

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  6. I am a trainer for Precept Ministries and live in Little Rock, AR.... but have trained in Kansas City. Loved seeing that marked up Bible.... and your blog.

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  7. I did this today for the first time and am blogging about it tomorrow. Thanks for the tip!

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