“Prayer offers a time to set aside that list of concerns - or rather to present them to God - to relax, to let the mind roam freely, to drink deeply, to insert a pause in the day, to trust”. Create your own "God Space" and "stop time".
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To hear an audio of Session 13 click on the YouTube link below.
Having an awesome prayer life is not the goal. Connecting with God and growing in our intimacy with Him is.
Maybe this scenario is familiar: We start praying when life is hard. Then life gets easier, and we don’t pray as much because we don’t need God as much. But, something difficult comes across our path and we know we need to pray about it. We feel guilty about it because we haven’t prayed in a while and we assume that God is mad at us.
It’s time to rethink prayer.
Let’s think of prayer in light of our closest relationships. It could be a sibling, our spouse, or a best friend. Our communication with them is easy and natural. We might send a text message, make a phone call, or visit with them in person. Sometimes we have long visits and other times, the messages are brief. We usually don’t begin our conversation with this person like this: “Dear Jenny, thank you for answering my call today. I am excited to talk to you. Let’s discuss...” Instead, we have this ongoing conversation that tends to just carry on to the next one.
If we treat prayer like we treat that relationship with those closest to us, prayer will intertwine throughout all areas of our lives. It will connect the parts that we have disconnected from God. It will be an ongoing conversation we have with Him—filled with moments of gratitude, praying for others, and even sharing our frustrations. And if this conversation is ongoing, then truly, is there even a need to ever say “amen”?
This doesn’t mean that we don’t show Him the honor He is worthy of. We don’t address Him with, “Hey dude...sup.” No, we live our lives where He is honored and worshiped and in doing so, our encounters with Him are far more genuine. He cares less about our words to Him and more about the place where the words came from.
Our relationship with God will grow as we strive to have an ongoing conversation with Him. Both short and long prayers have their place. But we can’t just expect to get to know him in a five-minute segment each morning. We have to bring Him into our daily lives and allow Him to breathe His peace, hope, comfort, and guidance into every aspect of it.
It’s time to rethink prayer.
Always Pray In Faith
Philip believes that the Bible provides examples of two different kinds of faith. Now the dictionary definition of faith is;
- complete trust or confidence in someone or something.
- strong belief in God or in the doctrines of a religion, based on spiritual apprehension rather than proof.
The Bible definition is:
Hebrews 11:1 (NKJV)1 Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.
Faith is trust in the unseen. It is not trust in the unknown, for we may know by faith what we cannot see with the eye. Faith is the ultimate assurance and the ultimate evidence that things not seen are realities (pragmata). - The Wycliffe Bible Commentary.
The two kinds of faith that Philip sees are bold child-like faith and fidelity or a hang-on-by-the-fingernails faith
Bold childlike faith is the belief that God can and will do anything no questions asked. God will heal every disease no matter what. He will provide no matter what. Just like a child not questioning a parent this is the kind of faith that doesn’t question God. That is the kind of faith that Jesus says that we should have.
Matthew 18:2-5 (NKJV)2 Then Jesus called a little child to Him, set him in the midst of them,3 and said, "Assuredly, I say to you, unless you are converted and become as little children, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven.4 Therefore whoever humbles himself as this little child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.5 Whoever receives one little child like this in My name receives Me.
Matthew 8:10 (NKJV)10 When Jesus heard it, He marveled, and said to those who followed, "Assuredly, I say to you, I have not found such great faith, not even in Israel!
Luke 7:9 (NKJV)9 When Jesus heard these things, He marveled at him, and turned around and said to the crowd that followed Him, "I say to you, I have not found such great faith, not even in Israel!"
But he believes that you can take childlike faith too far. Here are his examples. If you have the faith that God is going to handle it like your parents handled it when you were a child, and you wait until you are well or employed or married or whatever new state you are asking for, you may never get there.
Fidelity faith is the kind of faith that Abraham, Joseph, Job, and the heroes of faith in Hebrews had.
No matter what the obstacles God will do what He said He would do.
That kind of faith will allow you to withstand even if you don’t get the answer that you desire. There’s the story of a man who had Crohn's disease for more that 20 years. Crohn’s disease is a chronic inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) characterized by inflammation of the digestive, or GI tract.
Over time, your symptoms may change in severity, or change altogether. You may go through periods of remission—when you have few or no symptoms. Or your symptoms may come on suddenly, without warning.
He knew that he was not going to get any better after twenty three years. He had stopped asking God for a miracle and had resigned himself that he was going to have Crohn’s disease until he died or some not medical insight or drug was discovered. He had to learn to live with it. So now his prayer was for strength to endure, for meaning in his suffering, for faith to believe in a good and loving God even when he has to go in for a painful surgical procedure.
Paul is our example of a man with fidelity faith. A level of faith that realized difficulty but withstands.
Philippians 4:11-13 (NKJV)11 Not that I speak in regard to need, for I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content:12 I know how to be abased, and I know how to abound. Everywhere and in all things I have learned both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need.13 I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.
2 Corinthians 12:7-10 (NKJV)7 And lest I should be exalted above measure by the abundance of the revelations, a thorn in the flesh was given to me, a messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I be exalted above measure.8 Concerning this thing I pleaded with the Lord three times that it might depart from me.9 And He said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness." Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.10 Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ's sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
The Practice of Prayer
Ultimately prayer proves its power by producing changes in us the prayers. “Prayer Is taking time to let God recreate us, play with us, touch us as an artist who is making a sculpture, a painting, or a piece of music with our lives,”
We often pray out of fear, because we are afraid of the unknown. We are afraid because we have no control.
- an unpleasant emotion caused by the belief that someone or something is dangerous, likely to cause pain, or a threat.
- be afraid of (someone or something) as likely to be dangerous, painful, or threatening.
Fear is not always bad when it causes us to be careful in dangerous situations,but the antidote to fear is trust.
We should certainly not be afraid of God that He is going to smack us down when we sin. God is, as Philip says not “a stern, judgmental cosmic Enforcer”.
2 Timothy 1:7 (NKJV) For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.
1 John 4:18 (NKJV) There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment. But he who fears has not made perfect in love.
Doubt and fear usually go hand in hand. When we recognize doubt and fear, it’s a signal to ask ourselves if we are failing to trust God. Are we failing to truly love Him, are we failing to allow His love to be made perfect in our lives?
With perfect love we don’t have to doubt or fear the past, present, or future. Perfect love causes us to have boldness. It is the love which God, who is love, has produced in us through the Holy Spirit. That boldness comes about because we know that we can approach God’s presence boldly, without any shame.
Hebrews 4:14-16 (HCSB)14 Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens—Jesus the Son of God—let us hold fast to the confession.15 For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tested in every way as we are, yet without sin.16 Therefore let us approach the throne of grace with boldness, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us at the proper time.
In the end we should transfer our fears to God.
Psalm 23:4 (NKJV)4 Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; For You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.
Prayer can help us overcome fear. Prayer causes us to see everything from God’s view and not ours. Our faith in a good loving God overcomes all circumstances and can eliminate fear.
On page 293 Philip introduces a term that I had never heard or seen before, Spiritua vertiginis which is something like vertigo, a sinking feeling, caused by anxiety. Here’s Paul’s solution to it
Philippians 4:6-7 (NKJV)6 Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God;7 and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.
1 Peter 5:6-7 (NKJV)6 Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time,7 casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you.
Jesus’ solution was to create a God-space and pray.
Matthew 14:22-23 (NKJV)22 Immediately Jesus made His disciples get into the boat and go before Him to the other side, while He sent the multitudes away.23 And when He had sent the multitudes away, He went up on the mountain by Himself to pray. Now when evening came, He was alone there.
Luke 6:12-16 (NKJV)12 Now it came to pass in those days that He went out to the mountain to pray, and continued all night in prayer to God.13 And when it was day, He called His disciples to Himself; and from them He chose twelve whom He also named apostles:14 Simon, whom He also named Peter, and Andrew his brother; James and John; Philip and Bartholomew;15 Matthew and Thomas; James the son of Alphaeus, and Simon called the Zealot;16 Judas the son of James, and Judas Iscariot who also became a traitor.
Mark 1:35 (NKJV) Now in the morning, having risen a long while before daylight, He went out and departed to a solitary place; and there He prayed.
Matthew 26:36-46 (NKJV)36 Then Jesus came with them to a place called Gethsemane, and said to the disciples, "Sit here while I go and pray over there."37 And He took with Him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, and He began to be sorrowful and deeply distressed.38 Then He said to them, "My soul is exceedingly sorrowful, even to death. Stay here and watch with Me."39 He went a little farther and fell on His face, and prayed, saying, "O My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as You will."40 Then He came to the disciples and found them asleep, and said to Peter, "What? Could you not watch with Me one hour?41 Watch and pray, lest you enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak."42 Again, a second time, He went away and prayed, saying, "O My Father, if this cup cannot pass away from Me unless I drink it, Your will be done."43 And He came and found them asleep again, for their eyes were heavy.44 So He left them, went away again, and prayed the third time, saying the same words.45 Then He came to His disciples and said to them, "Are you still sleeping and resting? Behold, the hour is at hand, and the Son of Man is being betrayed into the hands of sinners.46 Rise, let us be going. See, My betrayer is at hand."
Prayer is the way to transfer your anxiety to God.
Philip goes on to say that “Prayer offers a time to set aside that list of concerns - or rather to present them to God - to relax, to let the mind roam freely, to drink deeply, to insert a pause in the day, to trust”.
In another section of this chapter, Stopping Time”, starting on page 297 Philip talks about a surgeon, Anthony Bloom, who after his conversion to Christianity, and many years as a surgeon, became a priest. He describes in his book “Beginning to Pray” , about a technique that he used for creating his God-space. He calls “stopping time”. Here is what he says on page 299. “The practice of stopping time gradually transformed Bloom’s life with God. He concentrated on living in the present, recognizing that the past is irremediably gone and the future is irrelevant, because who knows whether it will happen or not.
He started by just stopping everything that he was doing for short periods of time during the day. One minute, two minutes, five minutes, ten minutes. He just shut out everything. Just a short time of quietness. It could be in prayer or just being quiet. The first thing that he noticed, and we should take note of this ourselves, the world didn’t stop. His medical practice didn’t fall apart. For us whatever it is that is waiting to be done will wait. After these quiet times he was more efficient when he went back to the tasks at hand.
He began to realize that each moment, each second, was a gift from God, something that had never existed before. If you start the day creating a God-space, it’s a chance for a new start. This is my second favorite scripture
Psalm 118:24 (NKJV) This is the day the LORD has made; We will rejoice and be glad in it. When we hear to pray without ceasing we think of lots of things. I’ve talked about it a lot and have even written about it but the comment on page 299 sums is up “Prayer is a state as much as an act…”.
We live in a microwave society. We want everything right now. Products and services are marketed in a way that say if you don’t get or buy right now you are going to miss out and you won’t get that job, that man or woman, you will be looked at as a loser so you must get it now.
We are impatient and so are our prayers. We want God to act now. Yes David said that same thing in many Psalms but what we forget is that when we read the entire Psalm David praises God because he knows that God is good.
Psalm 13:1-6 (NKJV)1 How long, O LORD? Will You forget me forever? How long will You hide Your face from me?2 How long shall I take counsel in my soul, Having sorrow in my heart daily? How long will my enemy be exalted over me?3 Consider and hear me, O LORD my God; Enlighten my eyes, Lest I sleep the sleep of death;4 Lest my enemy say, "I have prevailed against him"; Lest those who trouble me rejoice when I am moved.5 But I have trusted in Your mercy; My heart shall rejoice in Your salvation.6 I will sing to the LORD, Because He has dealt bountifully with me.
Psalm 70:1-5 (NKJV)1 Make haste, O God, to deliver me! Make haste to help me, O LORD!
2 Let them be ashamed and confounded Who seek my life; Let them be turned back and confused Who desire my hurt.3 Let them be turned back because of their shame, Who say, "Aha, aha!"4 Let all those who seek You rejoice and be glad in You; And let those who love Your salvation say continually, "Let God be magnified!"5 But I am poor and needy; Make haste to me, O God! You are my help and my deliverer; O LORD, do not delay.
Impatience is a sign of selfishness. We want God to do it our way not His. Philip says on page 296 that we want to get God to help us accomplish your ends and we are not concerned that we are not the only person in the world. We are not an only child. His solution for impatience in prayer is to keep praying. Be persistent. We’ve talked about that. He mentions a Jean Nicolas Grou, who he describes as a mystic, so I did some research and found that he was really a Jesuit priest. Grou said that healthy prayer should be humble, reverent, loving, confident, and persevering - in other words, the exact opposite of impatient.
Sometimes we just have to wait. We don’t want to but we have to. On page 297 Philip gives us some biblical examples of people we consider super saints, who had to wait. “Abraham and Sarah waiting for just one child, Jacob waiting seven years for a wife and then seven more years after being tricked by his uncle. The Israelites waiting four centuries for deliverance, and Moses waiting four decades for the call to lead them, then four more decades for a Promised Land he would not enter. David waiting in caves for his promised coronation. Prophets waiting for the fulfillment of their own strange predictions. Mary and Joseph, Elizabeth and Zechariah, Anna, Simeon waiting like most Jews for a Messiah. The disciples waiting impatiently for Jesus to act like the power-Messiah they longed for.”
Hebrews 11:13-16, 39-40 (NKJV)13 These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off were assured of them, embraced them and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth.14 For those who say such things declare plainly that they seek a homeland.15 And truly if they had called to mind that country from which they had come out, they would have had opportunity to return.16 But now they desire a better, that is, a heavenly country. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for He has prepared a city for them. 39 And all these, having obtained a good testimony through faith, did not receive the promise,40 God having provided something better for us, that they should not be made perfect apart from us.
If we need to we should also pray for patience
Psalm 130:5-6 (NKJV)5 I wait for the LORD, my soul waits, And in His word I do hope.
6 My soul waits for the Lord More than those who watch for the morning-- Yes, more than those who watch for the morning.
Psalm 119:82-84 (NKJV)82 My eyes fail from searching Your word, Saying, "When will You comfort me?"83 For I have become like a wineskin in smoke, Yet I do not forget Your statutes.
84 How many are the days of Your servant? When will You execute judgment on those who persecute me?
We need patience to endure, to keep looking for God’s answer. We need to keep hope alive and to keep believing. We need to pray for the patience to be patient.
The greatest tragedy in life is not unanswered prayer but unoffered prayer - F. B. Meyer.
Matthew 6:5-6 (NLT)5 “When you pray, don’t be like the hypocrites who love to pray publicly on street corners and in the synagogues where everyone can see them. I tell you the truth, that is all the reward they will ever get.6 But when you pray, go away by yourself, shut the door behind you, and pray to your Father in private. Then your Father, who sees everything, will reward you.
I don’t think that Jesus was talking about a literal closet but a place where it was just you and God. It could be a literal closet, or a place in your home where it is quiet with no major distractions. It doesn’t have to be a literal place if you are able to “create space in which God can act.” Philip calls it a God-space to prevent our lives from filling up with other things.
When we create that God-space and we are able to sit, or kneel, or stand, or lay down, however we create that God-space we may have a very real supernatural experience. I’ve told you about the time that I heard an audible voice and that it has only happened once. There’s the account it our book on page 288 of a person’s supernatural experience of speaking in tongues and it was the first and last times that he was able to do it although he had prayed to speak in tongues. The point is that we shouldn’t look for a supernatural revelation of God everytime that we create our God-space, but to thank Him when it does happen if it only happens once. Also let me say that if it has never happened to you it has nothing to do with your salvation. The Holy Spirit dwells in you and is always guiding and urging you and that in itself in supernatural. I’m talking about an outward manifestation that you can see or feel.
If we can create that God-space we can hear God better. We’ve talked, in our last study about God sometimes, in fact quite often speaking in that still, small voice. When we are able to create that God-space, memories, scripture, urges to pray for specific, or specific situations will often happen. Sometimes when we are praying and we can’t think of anything to say then as the scripture says the Spirit speaks for us
Romans 8:26-27 (NLT)26 And the Holy Spirit helps us in our weakness. For example, we don’t know what God wants us to pray for. But the Holy Spirit prays for us with groanings that cannot be expressed in words.27 And the Father who knows all hearts knows what the Spirit is saying, for the Spirit pleads for us believers in harmony with God’s own will.
Sometimes it’s just good to spend time with God for no other reason than you love Him. That is not a waste of time. It’s like spending time with a loved one or a friend, somebody that you love. That time is never wasted you always get something from it.
Prayer as Therapy
Prayer can actually be a kind of therapy. It helps us to get away from all the stuff that’s going on in our lives and in the world. All the crime, hate, constant pressure to buy this, go here, do that. When in our time with God we go to and read and study the scriptures we learn what God’s like, and if we keep being filled with the Spirit we start becoming more like Him. We start letting the fruit of the Spirit develop in us.
Galatians 5:22-23 (NLT)22 But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,23 gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things!
We start to look like God. You know that God’s purpose is for us to be conformed to the image of Jesus. That’s why He works everything together for good as Romans 8:28-29 says.
Romans 8:28-29 (NLT)28 And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.29 For God knew his people in advance, and he chose them to become like his Son, so that his Son would be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters.
On page 288 there are two paragraphs about the therapeutic aspects of prayer. I want to caution you that the guy who wrote it was probably not a Christian but non-Christians often use the principles that God has given us in scripture for their benefit. The only problem with them is that the benefits are temporary while ours are permanent and eternal.
Anyway on page 288; Dr. Alexis Carrel, a French physician, who was awarded a Nobel Prize in Medicine, published a book in 1936 extolling the therapeutic value of prayer. Pray regularly, he advised, and you will find your life improved.
The bodily poster itself - relaxing, joining hands, bending knees - has health benefits. Prayer helps us resolve emotional conflicts, purge guilt, and overcome negativism. And by verbalizing what goes on inside, the pray-er practices a kind of self-induced therapy. Now we know that it’s the Holy Spirit who actually does the therapy but the point is that prayer gets us into the position for the Holy Spirit to do this.
Any therapeutic value to prayer comes as an outgrowth, not the goal of prayer. When you spend time with God it’s like the example that Jesus gave the disciples of the vine and the branches.
John 15:5-8 (NLT)5 “Yes, I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing.6 Anyone who does not remain in me is thrown away like a useless branch and withers. Such branches are gathered into a pile to be burned.7 But if you remain in me and my words remain in you, you may ask for anything you want, and it will be granted!8 When you produce much fruit, you are my true disciples. This brings great glory to my Father.
If you stay attached to the vine the fruit will grow, so it’s our job to stay attached and abide.