Be Addicted to Prayer

Praying is essential!
Over the next three Sunday mornings at the Beacon we will be diving deep in Jesus’ longest recorded prayer in John 17.  Acts 2 describes the early church as ‘devoted…to…prayer’.  1Thessalonians 5:17 commands we ‘prayer with devotion’ and Colossians 4:2 ‘Devote yourselves to prayer…’  Devotion means be dedicated, zealous and fervent.  In the Greek it is a word rooted in the idea of addiction.  Addicted to prayer – we must have it; we crave it; it is vital for us to feel alive.
Praying is powerful!
The great preacher and trainer of preachers Charles Spurgeon said “I would rather teach one man to pray than ten men to preach.”  We are committed to being a ‘praying’ church and a praying people.  Prayer is the foundation of the church and the foundation of life.  Like all foundations its full extent remains hidden, but the deeper it is the greater the building that rises from it.
Praying is hard!
How can we all be progressing in our private and corporate prayer life?
In 1665 the puritan pastor Thomas Brooks wrote ‘The Secret Key to Heaven – the vital importance of private prayer.’  This short book aimed to inspire his congregation to ever more vibrant prayer.  350 years later his words of wisdom on reasons we overlook prayer are remarkably contemporary.  Do you see yourself reflected here?
·         We are too busy to spare time for private prayer.
·        As servants [workers, parents, students] we have no time that we can call our own.
·         We lack the necessary gifts and abilities for private prayer.
·         God knows our desires and needs whether we pray in private or not.
·         We lack a convenient place for private prayer.
·         Our weaknesses and infirmities hinder us from private prayer.
Praying is possible!
Here’s some wise helps presented by another great pastor-teacher, Dr Don Carson in ‘A Call to Spiritual Reformation – priorities from Paul and his prayers’ (1992):
1.     Much praying is not done because we do not plan to pray.  Do you consciously schedule in set times to pray alone, with your family, with other Christians?
2.    Adopt practical ways to impede mental drift.  Make lists of what and who to pray for, pray out loud (even when alone), pray and walk, journal your prayers, pray while doing a menial task – do what you need to do to help focus your mind. 
3.    At various periods in your life develop, if possible, a prayer-partnership relationship.
4.    Choose models – but choose them well. Emulate people with lively and biblical prayer lives.
5.    Develop a system for your prayer lists.  Organise your prayer priorities; use photos, clippings, lists, pictures, software programs to inspire and focus your prayers.
6.    Mingle praise, confession, and intercession; but when you intercede, try to tie as many requests as possible to Scripture.  Use the Bible’s prayers as your ultimate model of what you should pray.  For example this week borrow seven of Paul’s prayers (2Thessalonians 1:3-12; 1Thessalonians 3:9-13; Colossians 1:9-14; Philippians 1:9-11; Ephesians 1:15-23 & 3:14-21; Romans 15:14-33)

7.    If you are in any form of spiritual leadership, work at your public prayers.  Children’s Church, youth ministry, small group, and parents – these are some of the ‘leadership’ positions articulated in the Bible.  Are you modelling biblical, vibrant, Christ-honouring prayers to those you have responsibility for?