20070323

Continuous Prayer


The idea of Continuous Prayer comes from I Thessalonians 5:17 where it is suggested we pray continually. I believe this is the kind of prayer relationship Jesus had with His Father. I believe this because, as we read about Jesus preaching, teaching, healing, feeding and generally ministering to people, we don't usually see Him pausing before everything He did to pray about it. I believe this is because Jesus was in a continual state of prayer which meant He was in tune with God at all times and always open to what the Holy Spirit was telling Him; therefore He was able to continually follow God's will at all times. Ideally that's where continual prayer leads. This something we're all capable of, otherwise the bible wouldn't suggest it.
While Jesus lived in a constant state of prayer and connection to God He certainly took times to focus more intently on God and pray. We need to be having these more focused times of prayer as well because they help create and maintain our continual connection with God.

photo courtesy of www.sxc.hu

Monthly Meditation Nights

The first Thursday of each month there is a one hour meditation evening at the FCJ Centre, on the Elbow River just south of downtown Calgary (219 - 19th Avenue, SW, 228 4215). This is an opportunity to quiet your heart and mind and focus intensely on God for an hour. The meditation is guided so if you've never done it before you can still participate easily. For more information and scheduling visit www.experiencing-god.blogspot.com.

If you'd like to show up a half hour early to do a labyrinth walk let Rob Low know and he's be happy to lead you on one.

20060929

Monthly Taize Prayer

The second Tuesday of each month the FCJ Centre (219 - 19 Ave S.W.) offers Taize prayer. Taize is an international and interdenominational Christian community based in Taize, France. It is similar to a traditional Roman Catholic order (monks and nuns) but is a modern movement (founded by Brother Roger in 1940) and is very broad in its Christian understanding making it open to Catholics, Protestants, Evangelicals and others who are just checking out Christianity.
Taize has gained such a following and so much attention over the last few decades that thousands of people visit each year seeking this type of international, interdenominational experience of God. It has become so popular that there are now Taize prayer and worship services all over the world where people use their music and liturgy.
The Taize worship style is very traditional, meditative and reflective making it a great way to slow down your heart and mind to experience God in a deep and meaningful way. It also allows you to pray and worship with people who may be quite different than you; a broader picture of the body of Christ. This particular Taize service is led by and for the L'Arche community of Calgary which is a Christian organization for mentally handicapped individuals. It is a wonderful opportunity to worship with these people who are so real and free with their praise and worship. For more information about Taize visit:
http://www.taize.fr/en_rubrique12.html.

If you want to come a half hour early to do a labyrinth meditation walk you can let Rob Low know and he'll be glad to lead you through one.

20060825

Ways to Pray


There are literally hundreds of ways to pray! Everyone's prayer life is going to be a little bit different because of who they are and how they experience God. Praying to God is both talking and listening; both telling and asking. People thank God for blessings in their life, praise God for what a great and mighty God He is, tell God things about their day, ask God to help with things and listen to what God's Spirit is whispering back to them. Below are just a small amount of the many possible ways to pray. Be creative and make your prayer life personal and relevant to your situation.
  • Pray using a prayer book or devotional book. This way you don’t have to pressure of having to come up with prayers on your own if you’re not at that point in your prayer life yet.
  • Pray using a list where you go down a list of names and pray for each person. This could be a phone list, photo album or a mental picture in your head of friends, family and neighbors.
  • Review your day, praying for people and things you encountered that day; good and bad.
  • Pray silently if you’re not comfortable praying out loud yet.
  • Pray in the car while no one is watching or listening.
  • Write down your prayers; for some people this is easier than speaking them out loud.
  • Pray through the newspaper; there are tons of people and events around the world that need our prayers.
  • Have a special place where you pray. Having a specific place creates a habit because when you go there you eventually associate it with prayer (like going to the library puts you in the mood to read).
  • Use symbols that help you focus on prayer like a candle, a cross, the bible, a picture of Jesus or whatever religious symbol helps you concentrate on praying.
  • Pick a time that works for you. If you’re a morning person do it then. If you’re too tired at night then do it as soon as you get home from work etc.
  • Use bible verses, especially the Psalms, to guide your prayers.
  • Say grace. There’s no biblical mandate for giving thanks before a meal; some people do and some don’t. So there’s no rule about it, but if you’re looking for a way to add more prayer into your life some mealtimes may be a good opportunity for this. You can be creative in how you do this (I know some people who simply toast God or use the communion words of, "In remembrance of Him.")
  • Use music to enhance the atmosphere of prayer; this could be praise & worship music like we use on Sunday mornings or some other music that focuses you on God.
  • Ask for help. You're not in this alone. Find someone to pray with, someone to pray for you or a group to pray with.
  • Seek accountability. Find someone who will ask you every few weeks how your prayer life is doing. This person doesn't even have to be a Christian; they just need to a be a disciplined person who believes in accountability.
  • Use the Lord's Prayer in Matthew 6 as a guideline for prayer. You can use it word for word or add your own personal touch to it. You can use it at the beginning of a prayer, the end or as your whole prayer. Some people like to pause after each line and add their own words into it. It's not a magic formula, but a great outline for most of our prayer needs.
  • Above all be creative, be real and be disciplined.

http://www.powertopray.com/howto/ACTS.html

http://www.spirithome.com/prayer_3.html

photo courtesy of www.sxc.hu

Matthew 6:5 - 15 - the Lord's Prayer


"And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.
"This, then, is how you should pray: "'Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us today our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.' For if you forgive others when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins. ~ Today's New International Version of the Bible


http://www.cptryon.org/prayer/teach.html

http://www.interviewwithgod.com/playprayer.htm

photo courtesy of www.sxc.hu

In the beginning...and the end


Dear Lord...In Jesus' name, Amen.

I begin most of the daily prayers with, Dear Lord... and end most of them with In Jesus' name, Amen. These are kind of like book ends that hold my prayers together. Dear Lord is just one of many ways to begin a prayer. I use this mostly because it is simple and familiar. If you have other ways you like to begin your prayers go for it - there are literally dozens of names for God and I tend to use His different names depending on what I'm praying for and what kind of space I'm in. My favorite name for God is I AM. This is my favorite name because it encompasses so much. This name reminds me of the how huge God is and allows me to begin my prayers in awe and wonder.
I usually say in Jesus' name at the end of my prayers as a reminder to me and to others that I have a Christian Faith and pray with a Christian understanding of God (as broad as that may be). These are not magic words which can be uttered whenever we want our way, but they affirm our love and trust in Jesus Christ. To pray in someone's name means more than just using their name; it means praying according to their teaching, example, words, priorities, values, legacy etc. It's like doing something in the name of your grandfather or in memory of your mother; it's not their name you're recalling but their entire being.
A person's name in biblical times embodied their character, which is why people sometimes had name changes. So when you pray in Jesus' name remember it's more than just a name, it's who and what that name represents, which is power, authority, truth, love etc. Your whole prayer should be in Jesus' name, not just the last sentence. (John 14: 13-14 & 16:23-24)
Contrary to popular belief the word amen does not mean, "We're done, it's over, the end, that's all, good-bye," or anything like that. Though it is often used to end a prayer, what it really means is, "in truth, in agreement, in faith or in strength." By saying amen at the end of a prayer, or to affirm someone who is speaking, you are basically saying that what you have heard and what you are asking for is right and true and you feel sure about it.
I only use amen when I'm writing prayers or praying with others because it does indicate to others that I am finished and I feel what I have said is complete and true. I rarely use amen in my own private prayers because I don't like to end my prayers in any way but rather prefer to have one prayer drift into the next one, even if the gaps are sometimes larger than I would like.

http://www.characterbuildingforfamilies.com/names.html

photo courtesy of www.freefoto.com

Gift of Prayer


While all Christians are called to pray, some people have the gift of prayer and therefore may have more of a burden and desire to pray than the average person. It's important to keep this in mind because it shouldn't bother you if you pray more or less than other people around you. If you think you have the gift of prayer then you should pursue it pationately and develop your prayer life as fully as possible, as you would do with any other gift. But if you do not have the gift of prayer you can continue seeking growth in this area without feeling guilty like there's something wrong with you.
When God gives someone the extra burden and passion for prayer these people are sometimes called prayer warriors because they pray with such vigor. These people are great gifts to the world.
All are called to pray but some will naturally pray more than others. Work on building a disciplined prayer life not out of guilt but out of a desire to connect more readily and deeply with God. There are many ways to do this.