In a couple of Saturdays, I'll be joining the women of Fox Chapel Presbyterian Church for part of their women's retreat and offering a couple of breakout sessions on prayer. I don't feel overly qualified to lead such a discussion. Prayer is this big can of worms, isn't it? At times one's eyes are open to seeing God answering prayer all over the place. Other times prayer seems mysterious, confusing, or even futile. Nevertheless, God has moved in my life to make prayer a more natural part of it than it used tor be and I am delighted to have the opportunity to spend some time with ladies I don't know, hearing their thoughts on prayer, and sharing from Scripture about what prayer is and how we can engage with the Lord through it.
I wasn't sure where to start, though.
So I filled up my backpack with books, my Bible and laptop, and some paper, left the kids with my weekly sitter, and headed to Starbucks to think, read, and write.
After only an hour and a half, I realized there was more than enough to fill the time, I had a list of "suggested resources," and I wasn't simply going to spend the hour quoting someone else's book on the subject - aside from reading Bible passages, of course. My heart was just plain encouraged!
You know why?
Because things came together. Things came together!
I'm not ready to lead the discussion tomorrow; the content still needs a bit of organization. But there is content, and that encouraged me immensely. I'm pretty new to this whole writing and speaking thing, but it is a deep, God-given desire of my heart to be doing it. Sometimes I wonder if it's realistic, though, given how many hours it can take to put talks together. Today I was interrupted by grace when I could "see" these last years of study, reading, writing, thinking, and praying coalesce, allowing for a never-before-experienced ease in preparation.
God is good. Of course, He's good even if my preparations had been awful this afternoon, but He's a generous and gracious Father who gives His children moments of delight and joy. I'm thankful to have had one of those interruptions today.
One passage I read today connects well at this point:
‘Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.
‘Which of you, if your son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him! Matthew 7:7-11
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Related to this discussion of prayer, would you be willing to answer a couple of questions for me either via email or in the comments? Just a short informal survey, three questions:
1. What do you find most challenging about prayer?
2. What is the best thing you've ever read/heard that has helped your prayer life?
3. What prayer practices/methods/routines have you found most helpful personally?
Thanks in advance!