Build Church: Pray

It’s so simple we may actually forget to. Yet with all the very best of programmes, plans, and ideas, without spending time with God we create and build solely on our own strength and imagination. And that is never enough.

Three scriptures come to mind as a reminder of the power and importance of building through prayer, building with the Lord, seeking Him and leaning on His understanding.

Unless the LORD builds the house, those who build it labour in vain. [Psalm 127:1]

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God [Philippians 4:6]

Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths. [Proverbs 3:5-6]

Prayer acknowledges that earthly wisdom is sufficient only for limited purposes.

Prayer says I am not enough but God is more than enough.

Prayer causes me to lift my eyes heavenward, to look higher and to look to God.

Prayer is to be fulfilled in combination with all diligence on my part towards what I am looking to build.

Prayer is bringing heaven to earth into the building of my own home and into the building of Gods house.

Prayer is me making sure I hear Gods voice on how things should be done.

Prayer is the antidote to my worries.

Prayer is a demonstration of my trust in God and His ability to do what I cannot.

Prayer leads me as I enjoy conversation with my heavenly Father. 

Prayer works.

Let’s be a people who don’t just build what we would like to fashion but instead be the people who get God’s insight into how things should be. As we play our part in building church, let’s pray. Let’s invite God in. Let’s ask for His kingdom to come on earth, as it is in heaven. From my own experience, I know it will make all the difference.

What’s your experience with prayer?

 

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A Readiness to Receive

“You’ve been given insight into God’s kingdom. You know how it works. Not everybody has this gift, this insight; it hasn’t been given to them. Whenever someone has a ready heart for this, the insights and understandings flow freely. But if there is no readiness, any trace of receptivity soon disappears. That’s why I tell stories: to create readiness, to nudge the people toward receptive insight. In their present state they can stare till doomsday and not see it, listen till they’re blue in the face and not get it. I don’t want Isaiah’s forecast repeated all over again: Your ears are open but you don’t hear a thing. Your eyes are awake but you don’t see a thing. The people are blockheads! They stick their fingers in their ears so they won’t have to listen; They screw their eyes shut so they won’t have to look, so they won’t have to deal with me face-to-face and let me heal them [Matthew 13:11-15]

This intrigues me. I want God’s word on situations, after all, there are plenty of voices out there. It can be tricky to hear the right one.

It’s important for me to position myself well in order to receive the right input, the right message. It makes me think of the old-fashioned dial on my parents radio that was so frustrating when I was trying to listen to the football when I was younger. If it wasn’t quite tuned in correctly you very often got a few stations all at the same time and that was pretty annoying.

I need to get the dial on my heart set right. According to these words of Jesus, with a ready heart, insights and understandings flow freely. You have to have a readiness for receptivity. No readiness then any trace of receptivity disappears.

That leads to an obvious question – am I in a position of readiness?

I must learn to see and not just stare.

I must learn to listen attentively so that I get it.

I must learn to unblock my head, take my fingers out of my ears and open my eyes.

Like a successful athlete waiting for the starters gun, I need to be ‘in the zone’. When they are in the zone, athletes are better able to suppress and ignore negative thoughts, achieving a flow that can give them a remarkable advantage.

There must be a similar benefit for me as Christian. If I am in the zone, with my heart set right, dialled in, receptive to the insights and understandings God revealed by His Holy Spirit then surely I am helping myself to be better able to suppress the enemy of negativity or fear and thereby experience life in all it’s fullness and the blessings of living for God.

Just a thought. What do you think?

Climb With Jesus

When Jesus saw his ministry drawing huge crowds, he climbed a hillside. Those who were apprenticed to him, the committed, climbed with him. Arriving at a quiet place, he sat down and taught his climbing companions [Matthew 5:1-2a]

I think I have always imagined the Sermon on the Mount being some great oratory experience with Jesus and a massive crowd all hanging on his every word. In all my imagining though I sometimes forget the fact it was on a mount. I miss the fact that there would have been some walking and some climbing involved.

Five words jumped out to me this time of reading…

‘The committed climbed with him’.

This infers effort, some sense of determination to get up the mountain, to keep up with Jesus as he climbed, a desire to listen and learn. It also infers that some must have given up the climb, were not committed and turned back for home. And this challenged me.

Am I willing to go up to stay in the vicinity of Jesus?

Am I really putting in enough effort to ensure that I can clearly hear the words of Jesus?

Am I ready and willing to climb a little?

With Gods help, I am. How about you?

Ask God to Speak to You

Ask and you will receive. That’s what Jesus told us to do.

Saying something worth hearing comes from making time to listen to the one worth hearing. So go ahead, ask God to speak to You.

Maybe like me that doesn’t come naturally. It can seem somewhat awkward, perhaps a little bit fuzzy when it comes to distinguishing between what is truly Him and what is just that pepperoni pizza from last night.

Here’s what helps me.
• Turn other things off. Remove distractions.
• Open your Bible up and read it. Start in the New Testament, a Gospel or one of Paul’s letters.
• Ask God to speak to you through the verses. Ask questions of God as to whether there is something He is wanting you to learn or act upon.
• Write down what you feel God is saying. Then ask someone you respect what they think. Test it with what you know about the character of God.
• Wait. Just sit still. Learn to recognise the way God speaks to you.
• Do this on a regular basis. The relationship, like any other will get stronger over time.

Why not decide to give it a go and spend some time with God in the next 24hrs and see what happens.