Prayer Is The Silver Bullet
We caught a quick flight from PDX to Seattle and then hopped on a five-hour flight to our vacation destination. For years, we had promised our oldest daughter a senior year spring break trip. While we were packing and then again on the flight, we were worried that we left something important back at home.
While we didn’t forget anything, there was something that came with me that I wish I could have left behind.
After a great flight, we made our way out to the area where we would hop on our shuttle to the resort. By that time, I was tired, and when they shared the wait time for the shuttle, I realized that I had indeed brought that thing I wish I could have left at home. From the room, I called one of the restaurants to schedule dinner plans, but I was informed that they were booked for the next two nights.
Again, I found that thing I wish I could have left at home.
Whether we are in times of stressful work seasons or restful family vacations, we cannot shake our need to pray for victory over our sin nature.
My middle daughter who is 14 loves using the phrase, “you’re triggering me.” God has been making it abundantly clear some of the triggers of my sin nature. For most of my life, I have been rightly taught to identify the bad fruit (Galatians 5) such as worry, frustration or fear, and confess and repent of it. Yet, Jesus taught us in Mark 1, that is only half of the process of living in His kingdom. The other half of repenting is believing. Yes, we are to repent of our sin, but Jesus said there is more – believe that God’s ways are better and produce good fruit (Galatians 5). One great resource that has helped me learn to disciple myself through these sin episodes is Gospel Fluency by Jeff Vanderstelt.
I have especially appreciated the concept that once we have identified the bad fruit, we must go deeper than just confessing. We have to take it to the root or the heart of the matter. We need to find out why we are choosing sin; that is, what lie are we believing?
The reason I was impatient for the transport shuttle from the airport to the resort may have been I wrongly thought that I deserved to be treated better than what I was experiencing. Once we identify the bad fruit, how do we take it all the way to the root or heart?
Tim Chester, in his book You Can Change, shared four statements that have been life transforming for me. These statements are called the 4 G’s: God is great, so you don’t need to be in control. God is good, so you don’t have to look elsewhere. God is glorious, so you don’t have to fear others. And, God is gracious, so you don’t have to prove yourself. I regularly use these 4 G statements as I continually find bad fruit in my life. I ask these questions around these 4 Gs to discover what lie I am believing that produced that sinful behavior.
Upon discovering the lies of the flesh I had been believing, the Spirit helps me exchange that lie of the flesh for truth of the Spirit. Then, by the grace of God, as Jesus told us to do, I believe the truth of the Spirit. As the Lord helps me, I see a piece of bad fruit removed and a new piece of good fruit appear. In my opinion, the lynchpin to discipling myself is prayer. It is the continued reliance on the Holy Spirit to help me commune with God.
Prayer is the silver bullet, it is the secret ingredient. Yet, for a variety of reasons people are intimidated by prayer, and we fear that we don’t know how to pray properly. You are not alone if you feel anxiety and fear when the subject of prayer comes up. This year, we are committed to discipling anyone at Good Shepherd who is faithful, available and teachable to grow deeper in their prayer life. We have included this link, so you can be taken to a video library we are actively creating to teach you about prayer. We are encouraging everyone to read Tim Keller’s book entitled Prayer. You can find it in our bookstore at Good Shepherd or use this link to find it online. Take those two steps in the month of February, and you will experience increasing confidence and desire to join us on Sunday, March 10th at 5 pm for our Worship, Prayer and Community Night.
I have been hearing good things about Michael Dudley’s teaching to our students and young adults. He explains that fellowship is formed among people as they accomplish a purpose together. For Good Shepherd to experience deeper fellowship, we will continue to accomplish God’s purposes together. Throughout February, we will be preaching on accomplishing God’s financial purpose. Around 15% of what Jesus taught centered on financial obedience, it was one of his primary topics to teach. Our common purpose is to accomplish faithfully giving our tithes (an amount of giving based on a percentage of our income, often the benchmark used is 10%) to meet the evangelism, discipleship, and outreach vision goals of our 2019 budget.
Would you join us for this entire month of February as we discuss Jesus’ primary topic of obedience? And, may I also invite you to join me in praying and fasting throughout February asking God to do a miracle in each of us to faithfully, willingly give to Jesus’ church?
Prayer makes sense to most of us, but what is fasting? While there are many ways to teach fasting from the Bible, I personally enjoy using the illustration of lighting a fire. Do you have a fire pit or fire bowl in your yard? If you have used accelerant in lighting a fire, then you know how the accelerant gets the fire ignited and brings an enjoyable intensity.
Fasting helps me ignite my prayer and acts as accelerant bringing greater intensity to my prayers. My personal plan is to pray regularly and fast at least weekly. I will fast or abstain from eating food after Tuesday’s dinner until Wednesday’s dinner. That means, I would not eat after 7 pm on Tuesday and would eat again around 6 pm on Wednesday. That is one simple way, yet you can design your fast around what would be best for your life. I hope you’ll join me in praying and fasting as we seek the Lord to do great work in all of us as we seek to obey Him in all ways, including financial obedience.