Wednesday, February 25, 2015

2015 Year of Prayer - Week 8

The potential for God to do the level of things never seen on this continent, or at least on the scale we have seen, is frankly, tremendous.  When we agree in prayer, knowing His will and praying for His Kingdom to Come, stuff starts getting D.O.N.E.

I've gotten more glimpses of the investment in prayer starting to pay dividends this week.  By dividends, I mean God answering prayers in ways that exceed way above what I could possibly think.  I'm not only seeing Him answer, I'm getting glimpses of how He weaves situations together as only the One with His perspective can.  He is, literally-speaking, the Only One sitting up high enough to see how it all goes together.  For just as the heavens are higher than the earth, so my ways are higher than your ways and my thoughts higher than your thoughts. (Isaiah 55:9)

Prayer can be hard.  I won't lie and say there are days I would rather (and sometimes do) stay in the cozy warmth of my covers and my husband's prodigious body heat (he's like my own personal space heater).  Still, I just know I'll be missing out unless/until I get with the Lord.  I tell you what though, the things I'm seeing happen get me excited to get out of bed and talk with God!  The prayer of a righteous man (and woman) avails much. (James 5:16)

There are 2 keys to "availing much," as I can tell.  We need to maximize the potential of our prayers with faith and gratitude.  When we pray using these tools of heart and mind, not only do we line up with God's heart and mind, but I imagine there is a sonic boom in the heavens, as God releases the answer which blows away the presence of the enemy; there is atomic energy potential in prayer!

Prayer is like an muscle, the more you use it, the stronger it gets. The opposite is true: the less you pray, the flabbier your prayers.  Faith, like prayer, is developed through experience and knowledge.  You pursue faith as much as it is a gift from God.  You can certainly ask for more faith - Mark 9:24 demonstrates when the father of the demon-possessed boy asks Jesus for help believing He could heal.

Throughout my faith walk, the Lord has given me special "dispensations" in certain situations - an extra dose of faith to believe in what He can/will do.  It isn't something radical: I just have zero doubt He will do it. I don't ever really know how He will, but I know He will and that is all that He asks....for faith the size of a mustard seed.
  •  (a mustard seed is smaller than this bullet point.)
 I have a few of those "dispensations" right now, including my friend Audrey who I wrote about a few weeks back (read about her here.)  I know my faith is not now (or ever) in vain.

We have to faith but Scripture also tells us over and over to encapsulate our prayers with gratitude.  Gratitude does more to usher me into the presence of God than anything else.  This morning, while I was swimming, I began to see gratitude as the streamline of prayer.

For those of you who are not swimmers, humor me.  Streamline is the position you adopt the second you push off the wall.  You can see in the diagram above, the better your streamline, the farther you can go with less work.  Your arms locked above your head, one hand on top of the other; your stomach and legs also tight together.  But if your position is floppy, your streamline will do you more harm than good.  A bad streamline means, instead of helping you cut through the water, it will slow you down.

Streamlining is the key to doing less work for more dividend.  Think of it this way: if you glide nearly halfway across the pool, you only actually swim half a length, instead of the whole!  It is worth the effort to tweak your form to get a streamline right for sure.

Gratitude gets us halfway across the divide between us and the Lord.  It slices through our thoughts, feelings and even our will power.  Gratitude put us right in the lap of Our Father in Heaven. I can testify the mornings I practice gratitude upon waking are the mornings I get the most out of prayer.

There are endless ways to express your gratitude to God: adoration, admiration, worship, praise and thankfulness.  They are all birds of the same kinda feather.  You don't just have to speak your gratitude either, you can sing, dance, get on your face on the floor, write, paint, walk...You can also just sit in restfully in the silence, basking in the goodness of God.

The body position and action of our prayers are not nearly as important as our heart position.  Faith gets us to ask in prayer.  Gratitude gets our hearts ready to receive His answers.

When we thank God, especially when we thank Him in advance of seeing the answer, we are doing heavy weight training of our prayer muscles.  We are building up what Jude calls "our most holy faith."  It takes faith to believe what we ask for, in His Name, He will do.  It takes gratitude to appreciate and see what He is doing in our lives and the lives of others.

Prayer is the most powerful of all our Christian muscles.  Keep strengthening yours as I strengthen mine.  Just imagine the work of God we will be looking back on in December!

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