Teachable Moments

What Is Prayer?

Very few topics in the Christian Faith elicit more controversy than the topic of prayer, often because of the big “what if I don’t” questions.

  • What if I don’t pray the right words?
  • What if I don’t pray enough?
  • What if I don’t approach God with the correct mindset or posture?
  • What if I don’t……? 

Sadly, we often treat God like we do a formula for good leadership development.  We want a “to do” list that we can check off and when we get all those tiny boxes marked, we know success is right around the corner.  If I can do it “right”, then God will answer all my prayers in ways that bring me emotional comfort or physical prosperity – I’ll get that job; bills will get paid; the sick will be healed on earth; my worries will disappear.  

The problem with this thinking toward prayer is that it is not Christianly; we are making bargains with God, setting up a contract, rather than furthering our relationship with Him.  It does not take into account what God Himself wants when we pray. 

What does God want when we pray?  Jesus tells us what He doesn’t want. “When you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him” (Matthew 6:7-8).  I love that God can hear our prayers without a single word from us.  “In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans” (Romans 8:26).

It is in this understanding – that it is not our words that God desires, but us (ourselves) – that we are reminded that prayer is communion within the Trinity where 

  • God the Father already sees and knows all about what we feel, what we think, and what we’re going through.  
  • Jesus the Son has made the way for us to stay in constant communion with God through His perfect life, sacrificial death, and victorious resurrection and He Himself makes constant intercession for us before the throne (“He is able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them” Hebrews 7:25 ).  Jesus never stops praying for us.
  • The Holy Spirit fills and works within us, to intercede through us and on our behalf before the presence of God Almighty. 

God brings His whole self into prayer and He wants nothing less from us.

Prayer is the privilege of being a child of the King, knowing we can fling ourselves into the throne room at any time.  Much as a young child who has a loving father knows that they can interrupt their Dad at any time for any reason, we can be assured there is no small problem which exists in the eyes of our Heavenly Father.  Big or small requests, big or small praises, big or small confessions, He desires we bring all of ourselves to all of Him.

What does God want out of prayer?  Us! When we come and talk with Him, we show Him we trust Him, we affirm that He is able, and we are comforted, corrected, and consoled by God Himself.  Our relationship with God is strengthened and our minds are turned toward eternity. Because of prayer, we are now ready to resist the enemy, survive the storms, and walk in a peace that passes any human’s understanding (“And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” Philippians 4:7).

Dear Reader, will you pray constantly as scripture commands today (‘Pray continually” 1 Thessalonians 5:17)?  Because prayer is not a “to do” list but instead a “turn to” relationship with God, then you are praying continually as you consistently bring God to mind throughout the day, talking with Him in a perpetual conversation, praising His provision, asking for His accommodations, and confessing your faults.  Forgiveness, peace, and joy are readily available to all who abide in Christ, in the presence of the Father and are filled with His Spirit. In this relationship, we find prayer.

May God bless you richly today as you allow the One who loves you more than anything else He has created, be your biggest blessing and answer to your prayers.

In Him, For Him, and Through Him, yours fondly – Elizabeth

BONUS:

A parents’ prayer before the throne of God is a powerful tool in their child’s life.  The well-quoted preacher from the 1800’s, Charles Haddon Spurgeon, had a mother who prayed for him tirelessly and counseled him wisely, seeking God’s work of chastisement and repentance in the life of her sons.  We may consider her as a godly example for how we may intercede on behalf of our children. Spurgeon said this of his mother, “I cannot tell how much I owe to the solemn words of my good mother.”  Spurgeon’s brother said of their mother, “She was the starting point of all the greatness and goodness any of us, by the grace of God, have ever enjoyed.

May we as parents seek God and His kingdom first so we are filled with His goodness and wisdom as we speak to and pray for our children; it is God’s heart that takes precedence in our work of prayer on their behalf.

Teachable Moments

Teach Your Children to Fight Their Fears With One Good Question

God is the author of all of our emotions, including fear.  Fear is a normal human emotion that tells us something in our life has put us at risk.  Our safety and security in some way is precarious and we may be in danger.  Fear conveys a message and requires us to stop and assess how we are and what is going on.

Fear comes in all shapes and sizes – from all out panic to being just a bit nervous.  It can be either intense to the point that you can’t function or annoyingly present but not a big deal.  

Children need help identifying what they are feeling, why they are feeling it, and then figuring out what to do with it.  So, we start by asking out children some basic questions about fear.

  1.  What does fear feel like?  Fear doesn’t feel the same to every child.  They don’t experience it the same and nor will they exhibit it the same way.  Find out from your child exactly what fear feels like to them.
  2. Why is fear present?  Fear comes from somewhere.  Figuring out why your child is fearful, no matter if it doesn’t make sense or seems silly to them, helps us help them determine how to deal with it
  3. Finally, what do I do with my fear?  Depending on what is causing the fear and how intense it is, we can figure out whether the child needs to talk something through, change some behavior or environment, or think about their thinking (meta-cognition).  No matter what, however – we always pray.

For this article, we’ll deal with how to combat those fears our children may have that weigh them down and get in the way of everyday life.  These are fears that don’t serve them well and need to be addressed head on. Never ignore this type of fear – it will only get bigger and more debilitating the longer we pretend it doesn’t exist or isn’t a problem.  

SO, what do we do with a fear that is causing problems in our everyday life?

Charles Spurgeon, a famous English Preacher in the 1800s, once preached,There are some fears which would die immediately if we dared to question them.”   He taught this as he was teaching on Isaiah 51:12-13 which itself has a question that gives the key to facing our fears.

Spurgeon says that for every fear that stops us from living with joy and strength, we need to learn to ask a question and it is in the question we find the answer to our fears.

Here is a list of fears with the question that confronts it and then, the answer Spurgeon gives to the question which fights the fear.  It is remembering the answer to the question that is the key to fighting the fear. BUT – handling fear always STARTS with asking the question.

Fear of people being mean (bullies, rejection, unkindness)

QUESTION: Who is in control of those who attack you?

ANSWER (by Spurgeon): Isaiah 51:12, 13 asks, “Where is the wrath of your enemy?”  And the answer comes, it is under the control of God. Even Satan, your fiercest foe, was created by God; God rules over him, God does with him just as he pleases.  God will be with you and can alleviate and help you stand up to those who attack you. Never forget who is on your side!

Fear of someone ruining my reputation (bad messages on social media, gossip, slander)

QUESTION: You say that your enemies are doing all that they can to destroy you, but can they destroy the divine promises?

ANSWER (by Spurgeon):  The Lord has promised to give his sheep eternal life; can they take that promise from you, or make it of no value? They may fight against you, but can they keep you out of heaven? They may threaten you, but can they make the covenant of grace to be of no effect? Since eternal things are safe, we can be content to let other things come or go just as God wills.  Keep an eternal perspective; this life can be very hard and disappointing, but God is with you, loves you and your real home is heaven. This pain won’t last forever.

Fear of death (severe or terminal illness, dealing with grief or potential death)

QUESTION:  What will happen when you die?

ANSWER (by Spurgeon):  If you cannot answer that question, let Paul answer it for you: “I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord” [Romans 8:38-39].  When we die, we see God and will be with Him face-to-face.  Until then, we live with Him here by the Spirit, looking forward to when we are actually with Him.  Turn the fear of death into the anticipation of heaven.

Dear Reader, we must stop listening to our fears and instead, talk back to them.  Do not let your child get in the habit of accepting whatever thoughts come into their head and assuming they are true merely because they exist.  Talk back to your worries; question your fears. And in asking the questions, seek your answers in God’s sufficient Word. There we find the answers to our fear.

Blessings to you dear Friend as you seek to help your children walk in a way that combats fear and allows faith to flourish.

With peace to you always – Elizabeth