Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Learning to Pray (Part 1)

Danish philosopher, Soren Kierkegaard, once said, "Prayer does not change God, but changes him who prays." I have been thinking much of prayer for the past couple of weeks. I have been looking at the prayers of Paul and comparing them to my own. I have found that what I often pray about and what Paul prayed about are, for the most part, far away from one another.

I long to have the type of prayer life that Paul had. I want to be known as one who is always in prayer for the things of God. When I think about the majority of my prayers, there is no way that God could use those to change me. I am all too often praying for physical needs of people. There is a time and a place for that type of prayer but if that is what dominates your prayer life then something needs to change. Paul made it a point to pray for the spiritual more than the earthly needs of the people he loved. This earth is going to pass away but the spirit will remain for eternity. Which is in need of more prayer?

Prayer is the great instrument that God has given men to make us more like Him. It is when we pray that we feel the closeness of God. Of course God is omnipresent and is always with us but we feel closer to Him when we are in communion with Him. So when we talk about getting closer to God, what we really mean is that we realize more and more the closeness of God. Again, prayer changes us, not God.

One of the best books that I have ever read on prayer is called A Call to Spiritual Reformation: Priorities from Paul and His Prayers. Over the next couple of weeks I will be taking some of the information about how to pray from this book and sharing it with you. I pray that God would use this information to transform the way that you pray so that God can use your prayer times to make you more like himself! 

Friday, March 11, 2011

Why Study the Bible Together?

Kevin Blalock and I are teaching a class together for University of Life on Sunday nights at Ridgecrest Baptist Church. The class will focus on the book of Ephesians and is designed for students and their parents. It is our desire to see students and their parents come together to learn the Word of God. I have actually met some resistance from both students and their parents when approaching them about attending this class. The excuse is usually the same, "my kid doesn't want me in there" or "my mom or dad wouldn't come to that".

I think it is crucial in this day and age to have parents and students in classes together inside the church. As youth leaders we only have a limited amount of time with the students on a weekly basis. We want to equip parents to be talking with their children about spiritual things at home. What better way to stimulate spiritual conversations than talking about a class that you are taking together at church? What better way to begin memorizing (yes, I said it!) Scripture together than by working on a passage that you are studying together at church?

Most of the people I hear making the excuse that they are not wanted in the class are simply assuming that is the case. More and more research is showing that teens really want a closer relationship with their parents than any generation before them. They may resist at first but if you really want to see your teenagers fall in love with Jesus, you need to live out your faith in front of them. Being in a class together with them and letting them see you pour over the Scripture is one way to show them that your faith is authentic.

Some of my most favorite memories of my mom are from coming downstairs in the morning to eat breakfast and seeing her reading her Bible and writing in her prayer journal. When she passed away one of these was given to me and from time to time I read over it. It warms my heart to know that she was praying for me and my family. Knowing that she had an authentic faith makes me strive to have one also.

Whether you usually attend Ridgecrest or not, this class begins on Sunday night at 5:00. It is my prayer that you will seriously consider being there with your teens and actively participate in their faith formation!