The way Max Lucado presents prayer in his book ‘Before Amen’, could give you just what you need for getting on track in prayer this year. I recommend this book for your library.
Writing in his usual upbeat style; peppering the message with illustrations we can relate to, Max Lucado simply but soundly confirms how every one of us can experience an effective prayer life. This raises a question as to why so many of us talk about dissatisfaction and difficulty with prayer?. But we’re in good company – even Jesus’ first disciples needed help.
Could it be that somewhere along the way prayer has become more complicated than it’s intended to be? As a result, as followers of Jesus today we’ve been robbed of the power of a meaningful prayer life? Jesus warns us in John 10:10 that there is one whose purpose it is to steal, kill and destroy; in opposition to the abundant life that He has made available. Prayer is an essential access-tool to this life. Have we been robbed?
It’s not so much how we pray, but that we pray. It’s not the words we use, but the heart intention behind our prayers. We’re promised that the Spirit intercedes for us. (Romans 8:26-27) It’s not about our perfection or worthiness to have our prayers heard and answered; but our Father God who longs for us His children to look to Him in all circumstances and situations. This could be sharing both the joys and griefs of our day; and the desires we have for our family and communities.
As we take time to pray, we find that God isn’t only willing to listen to us; but that we can listen to Him. The simple act of being deliberately in stillness and silence, paying attention to our outer and inner world, will create space for the One who made the heavens and created us, to speak into our spirits. There’s great benefit too in simply being in God’s presence, not for any other reason than to pause and wonder.
Having access to prayer is like having access to a whole storehouse of possibilities. But like tools in a tool-shed, these only become effective as we take them out and use them. Max Lucado provides us with a great starting place for prayer-beginners, and an inspiring refresher for those who have been on the Christian journey for longer.
We have already experienced the speed at which the year of 2017 flew past. We can take hold of 2018 by punctuating it with regular prayer. We can do this not just individually by ourselves, but with others. It takes time to get into step while praying with others. It can feel awkward at first. Praying together is a powerful weapon that the one who opposes our life in Christ, wants to withhold from us.
To help get started, you can use the DVD and study guide of ‘Before Amen’ in a small group with others. There are four DVD sessions. This might just be the starting place you need to ensure that in 2018 you grow in your experience of what it means have a life-giving prayer life; and to discover that you too can be used by God for His purposes at this time in history.
Review by Colonel Heather Rodwell
Colonel Heather Rodwell is Territorial Secretary for Women's Ministries & Spiritual Life Development