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julie

Amen!!!

maygodbegracious

I have to whole-heartedly agree. I am one of those people who really struggle with my prayer life. I grew up in a place where prayer was commanded, but never demonstrated; I eventually began to question the sense of even praying at all. That legacy still haunts me. I have earnestly desired for a community of faith where I can see the prayer life of the faithful, but I just haven't found it. So how do we truly become that person of prayer that your friend mentioned? This I don't know. I think that it must have something to do with trying to put myself in a place where the transformative power of God through Christ can begin to takehold. But how does one get there? Perhaps it is through the spiritual disciplines, or maybe it is seeing God through a community that believes in the transformative power of prayer? I don't know. But thank you for sharing your journey.

Russ N.

Jim,

Our church a couple of months ago celebrated 20-years of existence. Our pastor brought a radical idea to us -- 40-days of prayer -- as we launch our 21st year.

During our 40-days, no youth group, no ministry meetings, nothing to do church-business that would get in the way of people spending time in prayer. Small-groups weren't to study materials, but to pray.

We had several new small-groups come together at church or in homes to get people together to pray. They were not obligated to meet beyond the 40-days.

What a fantasic time for our church. We've since had a small-group home fellowship start even now that the 40-days are done. We came to love each other and that has turned into a longer-term group building each other up.

I'm not on the leadership team at church, but I do know it was a significant undertaking to stop church-business for 40-days. I am convinced that it was worth it.

http://russ-ramblings.blogspot.com/2006/02/40-days-are-over.html

Russ

Tracy

Great thoughts, Jim! For me, the conversation about growing in prayer is incomplete if it is not complimented by a discussion on meditation. I'm certainly not an expert at this and only a freshman student, but I am finding that learning this discipline will take me deeper into the heart of Christ than ever before.

Ted Gossard

Yes Jim. I know the strength of our church is the people. There are other things that are valued (like our building). But all that means nothing compared to the people and God's work by the Spirit of Jesus among us and in our daily lives. Amen and thanks.

Jim Martin

Thanks Russ. I look forward to reading your post. So good to hear of the meaningful time for you and the church. I suspect that won't be forgotten.

Jim Martin

Thanks Ted--This is something that I can really lost sight of if I am not deliberate. So often I can find myself fogetting the strengh of our church and get focused on "stuff"

Tracy--You are right. Exploring other spiritual disciplines can only serve to enhance prayer time and time in Scripture.

Jim Martin

maygodbegracious--Thanks for your note...and thanks for coming to this blog. I do believe you are right. Ultimately, our prayer lives are blessed when we are connected to a community of faith which is life giving. That can be difficult to find at times. In the meantime, (as you mention at the end), the spriritual disciplines have a way of cultivating our hears so that communiing with God feels more natural and real.

karen

I like your post. I found you through bjk...becky's.
"The real power in today's church is in men and women who wake up each day intending to live as Christ-followers. As we follow Jesus, the Spirit of God, who lives in every Christian, pours the life of Jesus into us. That life is real and visible in the way we love God and love people." That's it, completely.

Jim


"I want to be there--but I'm not yet. I want to follow Jesus--but some days I don't do this very well"....Read an article a few years back about what people most expected from their "boss". Number one on the list turned out to be integrity. In common terms, the latin roots for that amount to what holds you together from the inside out. Personally, I don't need "super saint" in the pulpit. My pastor just needs to be someone with whom I can identify, someone who shows me both a heart for Christ and a manifestation of Christ's heart. Perfection doesn't fall in there anywhere....

Connie Lard

Jim,
One of my favorite authors is Madeleine L'Engle. In one of her books, she talks about the paradox of needing "to take ourselves seriously enough to take ourselves lightly." Her take on this is that, "since every hair on my head is counted, then in the very scheme of the cosmos I matter; I am created by a power who cares about the sparrow, and the rabbit in the snare, and the people in the crowded streets." The natural conclusion to this is that, though we have a role, it's not all up to us. Maybe that is what your friend was trying to say - to lift your burden a little.

Something else Madeleine L'Engle said (quoting someone else) which, while not specific to prayer does relate to it: "To be a witness does not consist in engaging in propaganda, nor even in stirring people up, but in being a living mystery. It means to live in such a way that one's life would not make sense if God did not exist." Isn't that beautiful!?

Jan

Thanks to Corrie for passing on that great quote: "...to live in such a way that one's life would not make sense if God did not exist".

This is a fit discription of our living relationship with Christ in his death and resurrection, with only one who fulfills this ideal and will humbly abide with us.

As to the post, it helps fill my own need today in ministry for "my" church. I have often ask myself the same question on leading others into prayer. I find this simple truth of being what we teach the most profound, difficult, and deeply satisfying aspect of pastoral ministry.

Painfully, we also confess that the rejection of prayer by those we love still contributes to a deep suffering in ministry. Being true in our own prayer life, as vital as that must be, does not necessarily lead others into that experience. The saddest truth in the world is that human beings reject love, truth, hope, faith, all the wonderful gifts of God, just as those who rejected Jesus in his own person when he came to us. This will be a cross in the servants life until Jesus returns. We can only take up that cross and follow Jesus, believing in his promise of life in the now and the "not yet". He has certainly revealed the way and truthfulness of all he has said or done. We have every reason to hope in him.

Jim Martin

Connie,
These are wonderful quotes! I was not familiar with either one. I've spent the last few minutes thinking about the second quote in particular. There is something about that kind of life that feels very genuine, quiet, and authentic.

Mark  Daniels

Jim:
Great!
Mark Daniels

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