Too busy not to pray – by Bill Hybels

28 12 2016

One 190 page book for two months? Must be non-fiction!

I was looking for a fairly practical book on prayer and given I’d heard of Hybels and this book for years – plus the fact it was celebrating a 20th anniversary and still worth a reprint, all whilst acknowledging the busy-ness of modern life in the title, this seemed worth a try.

It was a little less practical and a little more theory-based than I had hoped for, (though I appreciate that that is important!), but it had a couple of chapters that were more practical so that was good, and I still turned down many many page corners to go back to!

Most of the sections talk about why we should pray and the fact that God wants us to pray. There’s a strong focus on supplication, although, again, there are sections looking at worship, confession, etc.

Hybels does cover ideas like writing your prayers down, keeping a prayer journal, finding a specific place, and gives one suggested structure for your prayer time. I was hoping for more ideas, but what was there was definitely useful.


Another Clewer

19 05 2014

Yesterday I went to church in a little village near Salisbury where my Dad’s cousin was speaking. I’ve not heard him speak before, but just knew he’s very clever with an excellent sense of humour. Well – cheesy, but to me that’s excellent!

I know I haven’t done a sermon notes blog in a while, but I think for our current sermon series at Heathervale I want to just do one overall one, but this of course was a complete one off yesterday, so here goes – the subject was prayer.

  • If we spent as much time praying as we did watching Emmerdale [insert other soap/tv show/hobby here] then we’d be a powerful church. We’d easily spend 30 minutes on the phone to a friend.
  • Our prayer time often consists of us talking to God but we don’t wait for a reply or for the Holy Spirit to guide us. Imagine ringing a friend, talking, and hanging up without giving them a chance to reply!
  • The Holy Spirit gives us three things to help us in prayer.
    • Boldness
      “Therefore, brothers and sisters, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, his body, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near to God with a sincere heart and with the full assurance that faith brings, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful.” – Hebrews 10 vv 19-23

      The most wonderful prayers we hear other people pray are the bold and honest ones

      “But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. Such a person is double-minded and unstable in all they do.” – James 1 vv 6-8

    • Ability…
      • …to pray for those who persecute us.
        It allows us to love them.

        “You have heard that it was said, “Love your neighbour and hate your enemy.” But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,” – Matthew 5 vv 43-44

      • …not to lose heart.
        We often do

        “Then Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up.” – Luke 18 v 1

      • …to pray without ceasing.

        “pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” – 1 Thessalonians 5 vv 17-18
        Notice that that says in all circumstances, not for all circumstances.
        God had to put the prophets into the right place before He moved, and so things were tough for a while.

    • A sure reward
      “And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.” – Hebrews 11 v 6

      “But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” – Matthew 6 v 33

      Putting Him first means listening to what He has to say. Not necessarily actively doing lots of things, but stopping and listening.

      “Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” – Philippians 4 vv 4-7

      To get the peace in verse seven, you have to do the things before it!

Prayer & Opportunities

6 04 2014

Last night I watched Evan Almighty, I’m going to go and see Noah tomorrow, so thought I may as well watch something ‘similar’!

In the film you get this quote, which I always find really interesting.

“If someone prays for patience, do you think God gives them patience, or the opportunity to be patient?
If they prayed for courage does he give them courage or the opportunity to be courageous?
If someone prayed for their family to be closer, do you think God zaps them with warm fuzzy feelings, or gives them opportunities to love each other?”

I think on one level this definitely has some validity, if we ask God for something and then don’t try it given the opportunity, then of course it won’t happen.

But what about when someone is in an awful situation where all we want to pray for them is peace and strength. They already have the opportunity to exhibit those things, so does this really apply then?

What do you think?!

Pray for One Another

6 10 2013

Still a week behind! Last weeks reading was from Colossians 1 vv 3-14:

“3 We always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you, 4 because we have heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love you have for all God’s people – 5 the faith and love that spring from the hope stored up for you in heaven and about which you have already heard in the true message of the gospel 6 that has come to you. In the same way, the gospel is bearing fruit and growing throughout the whole world – just as it has been doing among you since the day you heard it and truly understood God’s grace. 7 You learned it from Epaphras, our dear fellow servant, who is a faithful minister of Christ on our behalf, 8 and who also told us of your love in the Spirit.

9 For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you. We continually ask God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all the wisdom and understanding that the Spirit gives, 10 so that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, 11 being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, 12 and giving joyful thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of his holy people in the kingdom of light. 13 For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, 14 in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.”

Wow. There’s some big stuff in there!

Also a mention for James 5v16:

“Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.”

We’d good at praying for people when they’re going through hardships, but when things are going well or routinely, we tend to neglect them in our prayers.

C.S. Lewis recognised that prayer is needed at all times, he wrote to a friend: “I specially need your prayers because I am traveling across ‘a plain called Ease'”

We need prayer as much when things are routine as when there’s trouble. But what do we pray for the routine times? Try out verse 10!

We can’t improve on Paul’s prayers, take 2 or 3 names a day from the church directory (or some other list of people you know) and use Ephesians 1, Ephesians 4, and Colossians 1 and put their names in!

Otherwise we end up as just prayer chain pray-ers, what about everyone else? They still need to grown in the love and knowledge of God.

“His letters contain some things that are hard to understand” – 2 Peter 3v16, Even Peter admits some of Paul’s writing is difficult!

Things Paul prays

  • “Be full of the knowledge of God’s will”
    This means to know God and His character better
    When you know someone well, you get to know how they would think and act in a given situation à la Mr & Mrs.
    If you think WWJD, you’re only going to know the answer if we’re close to Him and walking with Him.
    He entrusts decisions to us with our knowledge of Him
    We may want to know who to marry, but He’s more interested in us being a good husband or wife.
  • “Live a life worthy of the Lord”
    When we are not in church, we still have a “I belong to Jesus” badge on, so how we live matters. People can smell hypocrisy a mile off. Our lives can damage Jesus’ reputation
  • Bearing fruit in every good work
  • Growing in the knowledge of God
  • Being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience
    Endurance and patience is quite a different look on “power” to what we’re used to
  • Joyfully give thanks
    When you count your blessing you can’t stay grumpy for too long!
    If you’re struggling to realise your blessings, try reading Ephesians 1.
    We’re not called to pretend that bad things that happen are good, but we shouldn’t lose perspective. We should remember that God is Good.
    We can joyfully give thanks no matter what because of what Christ has done for us.
    You can’t stay grumpy for long knowing that Christ died on the cross on our behalf so that we can be right with God and spend eternity with Him.

If our greatest need was a economy or entertainment, God would have sent an economist or Ant & Dec (wait a minute?!), but He sent us a Saviour.
Nothing can separate us from the love of God

When we pray for others, we can pray through all the bullet points above!