Posts tagged ‘Prayer’

October 11, 2012

Who does God listen to?

My first encounter with prayer was before I was a Christian. The memory of it is profound and lasting and more than 30 years later I remember it very clearly. I was reminded of it today while climbing the stairs of a waterslide – out of breath. My mum had taken my siblings and myself on a holiday to visit my Uncle and Aunt in QLD. We were going to a water slide park and I had left my ventolin inhaler in Melbourne. In front of my mum my Uncle says – let’s pray for Catherine. Everyone gathered in a circle and held hands. They all closed there eyes but I kept mine open….I had never seen anything like this in my life. NO EYES CLOSED FOR ME PEOPLE.  It was short and sweet and I distinctly remember my Uncle praying that ‘Jesus would give me breath’ that day. All day as I climbed the stairs at the water park I whispered ‘Jesus give me breath. Jesus give me breath’ and not once did I get short of breath or asthma. I came to the conclusion (having no grid for healing or miracles) that I must have breathed more often because of all that praying I did and therefore had a greater intake of oxygen stopping me from getting asthma.

Prayer along with forgiveness is one of the strongest Christian beliefs there is. But why does God seem to hear some prayers and not others? I think that God probably does hear all prayers but it some seems some are answered and others are not. In the words of Professor Julius Sumner Miller …..Why is it so?

There is a verse in the book of James that says this:

‘The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.’

What this verse tells me is that is it possible to pray weak and ineffective prayer. Hands up if you want to pray those prayers? What then makes a prayer powerful and effective?  I believe that one of the answers is in that verse….it is the prayer of a ‘righteous’ person that has power.

The word ‘righteous’ has been somewhat maligned in our culture and seems to hold some negative connotation. I think in the minds of most they see a ‘pious’ and ‘judgemental’ person who embodies some kind of ‘spirituality’ that is not really very appealing. Or is it just me that thinks that? On the contrary being righteous is something so much more tangible, down-to-earth, real and practical. Being ‘righteous’ is defined as “right-doing or right-ways”. God has a ‘right way’ about Him and when we get to know Him we can ‘know how to live right and do right’ also. A ‘righteous’ person is someone who is desiring to ‘think right and do right according to God’.

Why does being righteous or unrighteous have an impact on the effectiveness of our prayer life? Having God’s thought and heart in prayer aligns our prayer with God’s thought and heart for the situation we are praying into. For example – someone hurts me badly so I pray, ‘God, break their arms off and hit them with them’. This is a great example of a ‘weak’ prayer because it is not aligned with God’s thought and heart toward that other person. The moment I pray ‘God I need help with how I am feeling so I can forgive this person’ you are entering into a space that God is already sitting and His hand moves with you to bring answer to that prayer.

Being ‘righteous in prayer’ is more about understanding what the ‘right’ prayer is for the situation. When I pray I find I go on a journey to uncover and discover Gods thought and heart on the matter so that I can then align myself with it. Then I see His answer come powerfully and effectively.

Thirty years ago my Uncle David prayed that very powerful and effective prayer over me and God answered it. I know that He prayed many ‘right prayers’ over my life that God is still aligning me with them even though he died some years ago. I wish he was still praying for me.  During an open mike time at his funeral I remember many people from the community getting up and attesting to my Uncle’s ‘powerful prayers’. It was amazing to hear them recount incredible encounters with God they had because my Uncle offered to pray for them and God answered that prayer.

To be brutally honest I am just too busy to waste time praying weak prayers. May God continue to bring me into His thoughts and teach me His ways so I pray powerful and effective prayer in the lives of those around me.

Over and Out,

Catherine xoxox

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April 11, 2012

Has Church music morphed into prayer?

One of the most obvious things about the modern church is that music has a very high priority in our services. I’ve noticed over my 25 years of being a Christian that the music used in church is changing, not just in style but in purpose.

A couple of centuries ago church music was not just used to inspire people but also to teach theology.  The teaching emphasis made sense granted that many people in the church were illiterate.  Their were no mid week bible study groups, no Christian bookshops down the road, no Christian input outside of what happened between the processional and the recessional on a Sunday morning.

In this era there are huge resources available to a congregation that is not only literate but online as well.  So whilst the teaching aspect of music in church is still useful the imperative to do it is not as strong.

Church music seems to have morphed into prayer.  Teaching is now primarily done through the sermon and mid week programs such as home groups.  We used to sing about God, but now we sing to God. One example of this is a song we used to sing in the late 80’s at my Anglican Church.  The original music for this song was written in 1882 and the words of Psalm 46 were put to it in 1912. The first verse sang “God is our strength and refuge…”. Today instead of singing ‘God is our….” we sing songs that begin ‘You are my…..’.  One of Hillsong’s first big “hits” in the early 90’s was ‘You are my rock, you are my Lord’.

I’m sure that there are examples that go the other way as well. However, I think that  this has been become the trend.  Overall church music, especially in the Pentecostal circles which I’m a part of, it has turned into a time where the congregation directly talks to God.  People are meant to engage with God and enjoy a prayer time that is not just accompanied by music but is meaningful, reflective and inspiring.

So – is this change a good thing or not?

Both approaches have strengths and weaknesses.  It’s never a bad idea to learn theology to music.  The great thing about modern church music where the congregation sings to God is that it forces the attendee to have some time with God that is not focussed on their personal needs.  Our prayer times can often be where we present God with a shopping list of things we want.  When we sing at church we have to address God for maybe 20 minutes where our focus is on Him, His glory and His love.  Our shopping list does not come into it.  That’s a good thing.

Corporate prayer to music where we focus on God’s greatness is powerful.  It gives you perspective.  The things that you were worried about when you were walking through the car park 30 minutes ago are no longer as important because your attention has been drawn to the greatness of God and you are professing your love for him.

Do you think I have described the change correctly?

What are the pros and cons of the change?

John

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