Saturday, November 5, 2011

Improving Prayer Life

I've been reading Bill Hybels' "Too Busy Not To Pray" during my quiet times lately. I have been thoroughly enjoying it. It has helped me to see how I normally pray, inconsistencies I may have, as well as ways I can become more effective in prayer. Lately, my quiet times have gone like this: Prayer journal, read the Bible, read Hybels' book, more prayer journal to incorporate what I just learned. After several days of this I have contemplated reading Hybels' book first, but think it will be more beneficial to continue with my current order.

I picked up the book for the purpose of learning how to be more effective in prayer as well as, hopefully, improving my ability to listen to God. I know that prayer is supposed to be a conversation with God. I'm good at sharing what I'm feeling/what I need but am not very good at being still before God. I don't know if others are able to quiet their mind and hear God speak to them in the stillness. I have found that I am led by God through his Word, books I read, or other people. Usually when I sit quietly, my mind wanders and it feels like fruitless, wasted time. Perhaps I need to spend more time in this practice for it to become effective.

So, what have I learned thus far? I know in my mind that God is willing and able to answer prayers, but my prayer life doesn't always reflect that. If I truly believe that God is able to answer any of my prayers, would I not bring my deepest needs to him? I realized that there are things I would like God to do but appear to feel like he won't do anything about the situation so I do not ask him. That is ridiculous, I know, but that's what my actions say. I acknowledged that part of the reason I don't ask is because I'm afraid that God won't do anything and it will mean that I am ineffective. And if I were to announce that I am praying for something and nothing changes, I fear that someone else will take it as "proof" that God doesn't exist.

I have been encouraged by realizing my thought process. The book has also provided encouragement and help for changing my thought processes. One way is to pray through ACTS (Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving, Supplication). Spending time praising God for who he is and acknowledging what he's done helps me to get rid of my doubts that he has the capability to work in specific situations. Confession reminds me of how much I need God and how faithful he's been. The other two I've always been pretty good at, but I know that I don't always first remind myself of who God is or specifically name sin in my life and seek forgiveness and help. This method is good for shifting my attitude.

I also love that the book has reminded me that an answer of "no" is still an answer, though we tend to interpret God's "no" as God's silence. There is also a section where it suggests reasons why our prayers are not answered. The part that provided clarity to me was that sometimes there are areas in our life where we need to grow, such as eliminating sin in our life. Scripture says that sin separates us from God and closes his ears to our requests. It once again requires that I honestly examine my life to see if I am living as I should. I know that I can't be perfect, but if I am not seeking to live according to Scripture, then there is definitely a barrier between me and God.

I still have more chapters to get through and am interested in what I have yet to read. I already want to read the book through a second time. I may need to purchase a copy of my own so that I can make notes and have it on hand for those times when I feel ineffective in prayer, because I'm sure I will throughout my life.

I have some questions for you, dear reader. Do you also struggle with being still before God? If you don't, please share any wisdom that may help. Have you read "Too Busy Not To Pray"? What were your take-aways? Do you have any other prayer insights you'd like to share? Any additional prayer books or resources? I love learning more about prayer. I know that I have to be careful not to turn the things I read into a to-do list, but to use them to be more honest with God through prayer. Do you ever struggle with trying to incorporate great ideas into your life, even if they don't fit with your personality? I look forward to hearing from others!

1 comment:

  1. Hey Megan! Thank you thank you thank you for mentioning this book! I just ordered it so obviously haven't read it, but going by what you have written and what some of the other reviews on amazon said, I think it's exactly what I have been searching for the past few months. I have had a huge desire to start praying earnestly for Kevin and the kids but just can't seem to get myself going on the right path. It feels so... blah. I don't want a checklist. I don't want it to be a chore. I want to praise God and lay my heart out for Him. I have recently read quite a few good books on prayer, but of course am totally blanking on the titles. The one I liked the best I passed on to a lady at church. I started with the Power of a Praying Wife/Mom series (off and on the past few years I guess) and am hoping to reread them after "Too Busy Not to Pray" in hopes that I will have a new focus and passion for it.

    I know we haven't talked in a LONG time but I hope all is well!