Life Garden Guides: Worship/Prayer
(Communicating With Your Garden Creator)
Prayer is a key component in our relationship with God, for it is essential to our fellowship with He who first loved us (1 John 1:1-4, 4:19). Prayer should primarily be a two-way conversation between God and His child, which He often inspires, rather than a one-sided pouring out to Him of our petitions, which we initiate. Sometimes this happens, of course, but prayer is not just about us; it is a time also to thank God, share concerns about others, and a time to lift Him up. Simply put, prayer needs to be a God-led balance between our speaking and our listening to Him, for it is essential that we hear from Him if we want to remain in His will (Rom. 12:2). A key barometer to whether or not we are in His will, is our "heart-peace." When restless, dissatisfied, confused, grieved, or angry, we are surely not at peace, or rest, as He desires (Heb. 4). Only when we are in close communion with God, giving Him our burdens (Matt. 11:28), trusting in Him and following His path (Prov. 3:5-6), do we know His peace. God has even given us His telephone number in Jeremiah 33:3, telling us to call upon Him and He will answer. We therefore need to trust God's ability to move hearts and go before us in all situations, preparing the way, then let go and believe (have faith in) He who is in us, being greater than he who is in the world (1 John 4:4). We also need to confidently place our time in His hands, as David did in Psalm 31:15. God knows our time is so precious to us, that giving it to Him to regulate, is one of the greatest gifts we can give Him. Daily prayer causes our relationship with God to grow, then as we experience the blessings and rewards from abiding in Him (John 15), we cannot help but yearn for more time in His presence. It is only then when our thirst is quenched. Here I must share this personal finding - my daily heart attitude and efficiency is directly related to the length of time I spend with God in prayer and/or worship, and/or the Word, at the start of that day. The longer I put off His call to my heart, the less I accomplish and the more easily frustrated I am. It is as if He rewards my sacrifice by silently prioritizing for me - pointing out what is most important. Please, for Him, and your self, test this out then be blessed.
The other key ingredient in our relationship with our Creator, is to regularly spend time in the Word, which is God (John 1:1-18). While reading this ultimate of life guides, the Christian holy book, also known as the Holy Bible, which was inspired in its entirety by Jehovah God, prayer is often inspired. For while reading this living Word (Heb. 4:12), the Holy Spirit will often quicken us and show how we can apply it to our life situations. The Word compels us to become one with Christ when we become lost in His heart so evident there, then our own hearts cannot help but be turned to His thoughts of love, peace and reconciliation, instead of retaliation, fear, or hate. Fellowshipping with God invariably stirs us into these positive good thoughts of hope and love toward others as He showed us during Christ's walk on earth. Time in the Word stirs God's people toward healing, not separation, toward repairing relationships, not breaking them. While reading of others who are physically and emotionally healed through Jesus, we are often stirred to pray for others who are suffering similar pain. The Word and prayer are closely linked, therefore, each taking us to the other, and binding us even closer with our Savior.
The foundation of the Word is love, for God is love (1 John 4:8, 16). All we need to know is in the Word. Deuteronomy 29:29 clearly says, "The secret things belong unto the Lord our God: but those things which are revealed belong unto us and to our children for ever, that we may do all the words of this law." It is because God loves us so greatly, and so desires an intimate relationship with us, that He speaks to our hearts in other ways in addition to the Word. It is through the Holy Spirit as our Helper that God provides answer to prayer, comfort, guidance, encouragement, revelation, and confirmation to other ways He has previously spoken to us. The key ways in which He speaks to us, other than His Word, are through the still small (silent, inner) voice (1 Kings 19:12) (often heard during prayer), through others, through experiences when we strongly sense a "spirit level knowing," and through visions and dreams.
The Lord responds when we call upon His Name, imploring Him to rescue us, for He is our help and our shield (Ps. 33:20) in all times of need; a very present help in trouble, therefore we are not to fear (Ps. 46:1), but to be like the eagle and let Him soar us (Is. 40:31 ). The more time we spend with God, in prayer and in His Word, the more we will be fortified to withstand arrows from the adversary which attempt to stop our spiritual and natural progress on earth. But God has given us angels for protection, who will minister to us in the night watches. Psalm 91 speaks of this awesome power available to us if we but call upon the forces of Light. After September 11, many Christians shared how God got them through that time, and since then, whenever in need of His powerful covering, through Ps. 91:1 (and all that follows). Please go to the Psalms!
Many people literally retreat at the thought of praying before others, as doubt and fear they'll be judged inadequate, rise up. This fear is not of God, but often from the enemy who wants to prevent words from us which could render him ineffective in a situation. Remember always, he does not want prayer to take place; he knows its great power, especially when spoken in unity by God's people, for Jesus promised us, "For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them" (Matt. 18:20). Some people claim they get sleepy when praying or in the Word. It is not because it is boring, or because they do not want to do it, it is literally a spiritual battle taking place, and a spirit of heaviness can come over people who are doing God's work (Is. 61:3). Regarding this matter, the Spirit has told me, "then pray aloud!" And it works; you can't fall asleep when speaking aloud, can you? On the other hand, there is a prayer in Poured Out, which addresses falling asleep from prayer in the middle of the night. This method of being put to sleep by the Lord has never failed to work for me. Perhaps some insomnia is an enemy tactic to prevent sleep in order that God's people won't be effective prayer warriors in daylight? The Word tells us in James 5:16, "...pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much."
God also tells us in His Word to pray without ceasing (1 Thess. 5:17), therefore He clearly wants us to pray. Jesus went away from others to pray fervently to the Father for Himself, then for us in John 17. In fact, He even gave us a sample prayer which most Christians know by heart, The Lord's Prayer (Luke 11:1- 4). The truth of the matter is, the more we do it, the more comfortable we become, knowing the Spirit will teach us (Ps. 27:11). See prayer book ideas in Recommended Reading!
Please also consider the following point, less you be intimidated by people who have a clear passion for praying while you do not, and may even be thinking there is something wrong with you for not feeling the same: the Lord has told me, some are "called" to intercession (prayer for others). This means some are given a Spirit-led compassion and empathy for others which causes them to yearn to pray for them long and hard until a breakthrough is felt in their spirit. This calling is like that of being gifted in one of the many areas spoken of in Romans 12 and 2 Corinthians 12. Just know, not all are called to pray with this same intensity for extended periods, sometimes accompanied by fasting. God will clearly speak to hearts for this kind of intense prayer. Also know, fasting is a personal act of sacrifice which God will call you to do. If He desires you to fast, which does not always involve food, He will plant the desire to sacrifice for Him, which combined with prayer can bring forth breakthroughs, in areas where you are desiring change. The specific thing to "give up" is not always the same for all people. Some are called for specific lengths of time to go without certain foods or food categories. Some are called to sacrifice time or pressed to temporarily give up something they have a passion to do, such as a hobby or sport. It can even be a very Godly thing, even a ministry or calling. Then He is testing to see who/what you place first - God or what you do for Him. Personally, God consistently calls me to fast chocolate, deserts, snacks, and candy, since He knows how much I enjoy them. He knows our weaknesses. Just remember it is a temporary sacrifice, there are always rewards, if done sincerely, and we are not to push someone. Pray then wait on God.
God's calls His people to pray (Acts 6:4). When Christ died on the cross, the veil of the temple was torn, symbolizing the permanent opening of God's presence to man, thus man would have direct access to God because of the atoning death of His Son, Jesus Christ (Ex. 26:30-35, 33:7-23; Matt. 27:50-54). Believers do not need an intermediary (someone to pray to God for them), ever since Jesus' death, for He is our advocate to the Father (1 John 2:1-6). This is why we say, "in Jesus' Name I pray" at the end of a prayer to our heavenly Father. Even so, it is good to have someone pray for you, but you will also be heard by God, when you pray alone.
When we pray, the Word tells us to enter into thy closet (Matt. 6:6). This means to come apart with Him, as Jesus frequently did, to draw closer to His Father (Luke 6:12). This example by God's Son was to teach us, we are not to always pray with others, or even share our heart needs with others, but rather to go before our Father alone, and even in secret and pray. These private times with the Lord are when revelation comes to me and many. Revelation is a word from the Lord for ourselves or a word for others. Sometimes it is in scripture. Prayer and worship can become divine encounters beyond words, as we are taken to a realm of glory with our Creator, which saturates soul and heart, as if Spirit is pouring liquid love from Father, through the fountain of Jesus, by Spirit, into us. It is then we seem to melt into one with Him.
Prayer and worship are entwined expressions involving our relationship with God. Each of these ways to communicate and relate with Him, can move us into the other, for each, if heart-driven, can bring forth a hunger for giving and receiving even more. Both prayer and worship consistently bring us closer to God, and when diminished in our lives, we thirst for an inner revival only He can perform through Spirit. In prayer, we speak with Him; while in worship we reveal our love as in a prayer set to music. Each take us away from this world into the heavenlies, if our eyes remain focused on Him, not others or self. Prayer and worship bind us to our Savior as our soul and His heart unite. It is His heart to combine in this Life Garden Guide, both prayer and worship.
Worship glorifies God; it lifts Him up; it exalts Him; it magnifies His holy Name; it is a pouring out of our love and devotion to the One who saved us. Since we were placed on this earth mainly to glorify God, through what we say and do, (as explained in Rick Warren's book, The Purpose Driven Life), worship needs to be an essential part of our lives. To include it throughout our day is something many do out of habit; God is such a part of their lives that a continual communing, in whatever way they are drawn to do, occurs in the midst of ordinary activity. Some can easily stop what they are doing and worship or even dance before the Lord. Importantly, we serve a creative God who places ideas in us of ways to come away from life, in body, soul and spirit to be with Him. Lunch apart, in the car, including worship, can rejuvenate for the rest of the day. When one truly loves God, they yearn for worship moments; it is not an "oh I have to?" thing. It is also not a "Sunday morning only" or "special event only" occurrence; it is a way of life He inspires in those who want more.
Praise and worship are two separate means of connecting with God as music plays. Praise tends to be more upbeat, often stirring us to clap or strike/shake a rhythm instrument, or move in some way. Praise is associated with a release of joy and open thankfulness; in the corporate setting it can be catching, as believers show unified joy to God. Worship usually follows praise, moving our spirit to another level of expressing devotion. It is often, but not always, softer, sweeter, and slower, and more likely to cause weeping, as you connect with God, for worship is a love exchange between you and Him, initiated by a Spirit-led calling to your heart, in need of God, by Him. For He alone understands; it is a deep unto deep beckoning from God, to come away from life and become fully one with Him. Inviting the Holy Spirit to come help you worship, by focusing you, and removing all distraction, opens worship doors to freedom.
Devotion, in motion, is another way to explain worship, often accompanied by raised and swaying arms and hands, as if dancing before the Lord with still feet. And so, even those confined to bed or chair, can arm worship. Then losing of your "self" can begin, and for a while in time, there is a melting into oneness with Jesus. There is no better or satisfying way to please Him, then be blessed in return, as He pours His love for doing so back into you. It is a living waters exchange from the River of God flushing out your heart, then renewing from His wellspring. It is a soul emptying of your love to Him, knowing He receives all your adoration. To think that God Himself so loves your worship of Him, is in itself an awesome blessing.
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