Week 1 – Prayer
Thursday 18th Feb
Regardless of what you’re doing for lent, why not do it with someone? It’s not too late to start! It could be a friend, spouse, relative. Who could you invite to journey with you together through Lent?
Friday 19th Feb
Dan starts us off with a short reflection on Jesus’ practice of prayer from Luke 11.
Spend a bit of time after considering what God may be saying to you about your own practice of prayer, anad how that could develop.
Saturday 20th Feb
Ali and Neil have written a short blog post below for us to reflect on as part of our week practising prayer. There are questions at the end, and an extra resource if you want to explore a bit more.
“In this blog, Neil and Ali, who are part of the staff team at the Baptist Union of Scotland, share their reflections together on the practice of prayer we see in Jesus’ life, and their experience of waiting in stillness, listening to God.
[Neil] Many times in the gospels, we find Jesus slipping off to pray. Our passage for this week is Luke 11:1-4 where we find Jesus “praying in a certain place.” The gospel of Luke particularly highlights Jesus’ practice of retreating to pray, as well as emphasising his teaching on this. Luke records Jesus praying more times than the rest of the gospels combined! And as we move into the rest of the New Testament, we read of Jesus continuing to pray and intercede on our behalf in places like Romans 8. His discipline of prayer was so central to his life on earth and continues to this day.
And in the passage in Luke, we find the disciples asking Jesus to teach them to pray. One of the few instances we ever read of them asking to be taught. I think it’s significant, and shows their fascination between the work and ministry of Jesus, and His regular practise of prayer. They knew there was a relationship there. They saw the importance of prayer to Jesus, and the overflow of His ministry as a result.
One of the most prominent books of the last year, certainly in my conversations with people, has been ‘How to Pray’ by Pete Greig. And I don’t think that’s a coincidence. Whether that’s because we’ve been forced to slow down, and with that extra time we’re finding time to pray, or because we’re struggling to make sense of this year. We even see in contemporary culture an increased desire for mindfulness and meditation as an antidote to the anxiety with which many people are living. And as followers of Jesus, we’re not immune to that anxiety and busyness that makes us crave stillness and peace. And to all the busyness of life, and demands people bring, we see Jesus often retreating to spend time with His Father in prayer.
How did Jesus Practice Prayer?
[Ali] I am with the disciples in Luke 11 when they asked Jesus how to pray. I have always wanted to pray as Jesus prayed. Jesus then goes on to teach them what we call ‘The Lord’s Prayer’ a template and guide for how he wanted us to pray.
How often I wonder in my own experience of prayer both personal and in group settings do I spend the majority of my time asking for ‘My daily Bread’ and forgetting the other parts of the prayer and indeed the other aspects of the teaching Jesus gives His disciples in Matthew and Luke’s accounts of the passage. In Matthew’s account (Matt 6:5-14), Jesus seems a lot more focussed on the how you pray rather than just what you pray. Simply put He tells the disciples to keep it hidden and keep it simple! In Luke’s account (Luke 11:1-13) he again teaches the framework of the prayer but this time also encouraged His disciples to persevere in prayer and to be receptive of the gift of the Holy Spirit.
In other words;
How we are to prayer is by keeping it up,
keeping it simple,
keeping it hidden
and to be receptive to the presence of God coming to us as a gift!
How often are my prayers too public? Too complicated? Too infrequent? And too neatly packaged not allowing space for God to speak and outpour the gift of His Spirit in prayer.
When I look at the practice of prayer in Jesus’ life it makes me want to spend more time alone with my Heavenly Father waiting and listening for His words.
But like many people I get far too busy and anxious about life. I don’t have time to luxuriate in time of basking in the presence of God – waiting and listening. There is too much to be done. John Wesley, one of the great leaders from church history famously said, “ I have so much to do that I spend several hours in prayer before I am able to do it.” There is so much in that quote that speaks of a pattern of life that looks a bit like the way Jesus seems to have dealt with a busy life. Make space and prioritise time with God especially when things are busy! This lent for me. I feel that I want to become more like Mary rather than Martha (Luke 10:38-42). To be a follower who makes time to be still and attentive to God in prayer, before I am active for Him.
I was recently in a gathering of people all wanting to begin new works of mission in their communities. These were great people all of whom were itching to get going. The person speaking to the group is a very gifted leader and you could feel that he had much wisdom to share and strategies about how best to establish new works. He didn’t. He simply said to everyone in the room that they must learn to wait in prayer on God, to hear what he is saying and then allow their activity to flow from there. It was a deeply simple and powerful message that rang all too true for all of us attending. Again Wesley’s words jumped to mind, “Proceed with much prayer, and your way will be made plain.”
Let our prayer this week be times of waiting and listening more even than interceding. That we would hear the voice of God and be renewed in His strength.
A couple of questions to reflect on:
- What has been your practice of listening and waiting on God in prayer?
- In what ways could you develop this practice of waiting and listening on God?
The Prayer Course by 24/7 Prayer is a great resource, and this session particularly looks at contemplative prayer. If you’d like to explore a bit more, head on over and give it a watch:
Celebration Sunday 21st Feb
As you tune in with your church family today, why not thank God for individuals and families who attend. And ask if there is anyone you can be praying for specifically in the week to come
Monday 22nd Feb
Today we’re going to practise prayerfully waiting on God through journaling.
“I will stand at my watch and station myself on the ramparts; I will look to see what he will say to me, and what answer I am to give to this complaint. Then the LORD replied: ‘Write down the revelation and make it plain on tablets so that a herald may run with it.” Habakkuk 2:1-2
We find Habakkuk waiting on the Lord and writing down what he senses God saying to him. Why not take 15 minutes now to do that for yourself?
Lord, as I wait quietly before you, what would You say to me?
Together – Share a bit of your journal with a friend.
Tuesday 23rd Feb
Today, take 15 minutes to look out your window in quiet – who or what do you see and what might God be saying to you through that?
Wednesday 24th Feb
Today, take 15-20 minutes and quietly reflect on this week’s passage, Luke 11:1-13 (below)? Why do you think the disciples wanted to know how to pray?
Thursday 25th Feb
Today, why not get outside and go for a walk (no headphones!) and talk to God? If appropriate, walk with a friend and chat about what you sense God has been saying to you this week?