Fri, May 8, 2020

Aligning with Jesus in Prayer

Good Morning, Anthem!

Yesterday we spent some time praying through the Lord’s prayer and next week we want to dig into that more, taking each section and spending some time exploring what Jesus is modeling for us to practice. Before we get to that, we asked Celeste to give us a look into what God has been teaching her about prayer over the last few years. We have learned a lot from watching Celeste and we would love for you all to be encouraged and challenged by what God has grown in her! Take it away, Celeste!

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Celeste here; a beach, bacon and black coffee enthusiast who loves spending time with others hearing their stories...preferably over a delicious meal! If I haven’t met you yet, HI! 

When you pray, do you ever feel like the answer is “no” each time you make your request to God? Have you been asking him to change your heart to be like his in your day-to-day...in your struggles with idols...in your attitude towards this pandemic but nothing seems to be happening? So have I. God has been teaching and showing me through his word that my heart has been out of alignment with him in prayer. I’ve made my request known, I’ve tried to be humble before his throne, I’m interceding on behalf of others but still no change. Why God?

James 4:3 says:

You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions.

Well, wait a minute. I’m asking in your name, Jesus and for you to change my heart. I’m not asking in order that I get something personally...I want your will. What gives?

Let’s read John 15:4-5:

Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.

My requests themselves can be good (even needed) but at times, I am not starting from a place rooted in Jesus and allowing his spirit to lead my prayers. My frustrations and disappointments with the answers can be a result of not praying with the heart of Jesus. 

Over the last few years, I’ve begun to grow in this concept of abiding or centering myself in Jesus. This has come about through reading his word (even when I haven’t felt like it or didn’t think I was getting anything out of the time), through prayers of submission over myself, and through listening and taking action when he reveals things to me. In focusing on this time of being with Jesus and growing in my intimacy with him, I began to see a difference in the shape or direction of my prayers. 

Here are some practices that have helped me...I’d love to invite you to join in today!

Exercise #1

Read through and take some time to meditate over Psalms 51:10 and Proverbs 4:23. Ask God to show you anything in your life that is distracting or making it hard to spend time with him. 

Write those things down...

Spend some time praying through the things you wrote down. Passages for encouragement in your prayer time: James 4:10; 1 John 5:14-15

If you’re like me, you want to see the results of that “first-time” going to God in humility instantly change your mindset and sometimes, he does just that! Other times however, we are called to a walk of discipline in consistently going before his throne with our “list” before the change registers in our hearts. Sometimes the process of aligning our hearts with him is the main area we need to work on, not just the result of a changed heart. 

Exercise #2

Wait for the Lord; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the Lord! — Psalms 27:14

Spend some time over the next few days (more if you like) praying through Psalms 37:4-7 with yourself in mind each day. 

Ask God to produce in you...
..a delight for him alone
..for a surrendering of the way you think things should be answered or handled
..that righteousness would flow out of you
..for the patience to wait on his timing and learn all that he desires to show you during the wait.

As we grow in our relationship with God and as he molds our hearts to be more like his, I want to remind you...be encouraged in the process and steps. Celebrate and rejoice along the way! Life with Christ is one of constant growth so we’ll never “arrive” until the completion of his finished work has come. Till then, let us rejoice in the process and the walk we have with him. 

Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

— Philippians 4:4-9


Bonus

I am a person of music and sometimes the best way for me to quiet my thoughts and ready my mind to listen and hear from the Lord is through song. These three in particular have been very encouraging to me over the last several weeks:

Simple Gospel - United Pursuit
You Keep Getting Better - Maverick City Music
Hymn - Change My Heart Oh God


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Thank you for sharing with us, Celeste! 

As we desire to grow as people who: be with Jesus, become like Jesus and do what Jesus did... aligning our heart with His is such an important practice. Thank you, Celeste, for teaching us through your journey!

Much love,
Matt and Kristen