Prayer is one of the most difficult disciplines of life. But with consistent prayer comes great blessing! Over the summer we have been studying as a small group Authentic: Developing the Diciplines of Sincere Faith by James Macdonald. And over the summer I have been greatly convicted about a great number of things.
One being my time in the word. I’ve had seasons of ups and downs, as I’m sure we’ve all had, where I’m on a real roll with studying God’s word. Then I hit a bump in the road, miss a day, then another, then it takes me forever to get back into reading and studying his word. The desire is there, the hunger is present, but I’m just not feeding it. Something that helps me to keep on top of being in God’s word is making sure I read BEFORE I get any time online. Another is making sure I have enough reading material nearby – if I get through my daily reading and still feel hungry, I want to have more to go through and not just walk away not fully satisfied, or filling up with other things (like media). So I have studies from YouVersion always handy, as well as some short studies like Focused 15.
But my biggest hurdle has always been prayer. Yet it is the most rewarding discipline of all! So many times throughout God’s word we are taught, commanded, encouraged to pray; to be involved in the furthering of God’s kingdom through our crying out to him; to be filled with joy and awe and love as we pray praises to his name; to cry out in surrender to his will; to receive the power of the Holy Spirit when things are out of our hands.
Things have been interesting in our home lately. For the last week or so our boys have been off the wall. I’m not just talking about energetic and excited – they have been BONKERS. I know it is a combination of things – end of summer “boredom” kicking in, a week of rain keeping us cooped up, my being busy with organizing for school. But the heart and attitudes I see coming through are concerning, especially when we’re constantly dealing with them appropriately, and there seems to be no change.
I know that the only way for their hearts to really, truly change is for us to get down hard in prayer and trust them completely to God.
I don’t know what else to do – BUT PRAY.
This morning I read in Psalm 127:1 –
Unless the LORD builds the house, those who build it labour in vain.
The efforts that I put out are in vain, lest I trust them fully and completely in prayer to God. Verses 3 and 4 say:
Behold, children are a heritage from the LORD, the fruit of the womb a reward. Like arrows in the hand of a warrior are the children of one’s youth.
Are you viewing your children as a reward, as a joy and blessing? Or are you weary or parenting? Have you prayed, are you praying, that God will take control of their lives and work in their hearts to bring about a change?
Along with prayer comes something that I have never really participated in – fasting. It has always seemed to me something that is an “extreme” measure of faith. Yet it is talked about a LOT in the bible, and I think neglected too much by believers.
James Macdonald, in his session on fasting, talked about the things we fill our lives with. From morning to night there is always something taking our time away from God. If I think about it, sometimes I am far too easily filled with my quiet time, though it is short. Sometimes this is because of God, sometimes this is because of distractions pulling me away from my focus on his word. I have little hunger for God, and too much hunger for things of this world. And I want to break that.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied
How do I break the attachment to things which aren’t necessarily bad, but are replacing my hunger and thirst for righteousness? In the form of a fast. It doesn’t need to be a food fast – and for me, food isn’t a problem (except maybe for sweets :D) and right now I can’t really fast from food – although it is a good discipline still to develop.
No, my hunger is for social connections – online, through blogging, twitter and facebook. None of it bad – in fact, all of it encouraging and helpful and good. Yet, if it is replacing my hunger for God, it is taking me to a place where I don’t want to end up.
The definition of fasting is “Abstaining from food for measured periods of time in order to heighten my hunger for the things of God”. My “food” has been my time online. And going back to the situation with the boys, I think this is a contributing factor to how they’ve been acting. I need to pray earnestly for them. And with our new school year coming up, I really need to get myself in line and focused on THE MOST IMPORTANT thing in my life – God.
So, Sunday to Sunday next week, 5 am to 8 pm, I will be completely offline. I struggle with saying here what and why I’m doing this, as fasting is meant to be done in secret. But I also really want to encourage you – if you are struggling in your relationship with God, quiet time, or in your family or any other situations – pray and fast. It doesn’t HAVE to be from food, though that is the best place to start – but from whatever is stealing your hunger from God. There’s no right or wrong length of time.
And the goal is to REPLACE the time you would spend DOING that thing, with time spent seeking God.
If you are able, please listen to the series on disciplines from James Macdonald – it is phenomenal, challenging, indepth study and very convicting and encouraging. Ask others for help. I’d love for you to share on here how I can pray for you or how prayer and fasting has made an impact in your life. Let’s encourage each other to seek God with our whole hearts and lives and to make him a priority for each day!