Prayer Changes Hearts
Therefore, as you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in him, rooted and built up in him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving.
(Colossians 2:6-7 ESV)
Christians receive your new life. Free from their work or merit, this life is kept as it was received through God’s hand. So then prayer is where we start. Acknowledging that God has changed our hearts and it is God who can change other peoples hearts. A life of prayer, is a life full of gratefulness and consistency. Here are a sermon and a book that have challenged me to both.
From a sermon on 2 Timothy:
"Goes on to say these people are ‘ungrateful.’ It comes out of a taproot of ungratefulness. Some of you spent more time praying for things than you do thanking God for things he’s already provided. Some of you continually lament those things you have not accomplished, achieved or obtained, not being grateful for what you already have.”
God Hears and Responds: A sermon by Matt Chandler, to encourage more faithful and confident prayer by understanding that God always hears and responds to the prayers of His children.
Pastor Matt looks at a simple truth made evident in this text. That God meets everyday people in everyday circumstances and does extraordinary things. Because a simple truth here that would be easy to blow by is that God heard Habakkuk and answered him.
"For those that say, ‘I believe He answers prayer, but I just think He says ‘no’ a lot. That’s my issue.’ Well I want to throw two things at you. I contend that He answers “yes” far more often than you think He does, but there are a couple of reasons I don’t think you see it."
"Loving fathers never reward waywardness. Loving parents never reward rebellion."
From the book, “A Praying Life:”
Prayer can be overwhelming and difficult to start so here is recommendation I found recently. This is not a system for prayer but instead a tool to help.
God puts many people on our hearts and this will help you to feel the power and encouragement from and of God.
"I am not naturally a people person, but when I regularly pray for people using some kind of written system, my heart tunes in to them. I am bolder about asking them how things are going because they are already on my heart."
"Deep within the American psyche is the 1960s’ Romantic idea, originally from Emerson and Rousseau, that if something doesn’t feel natural, it isn’t real. We think spiritual things—if done right—should just flow. But if you have a disability, nothing flows, especially in the beginning."
So his pitch is to use 3x5 index cards:
KEEPING TRACK OF THE STORY: USING PRAYER CARDS THE IDEA OF USING prayer cards instead of a prayer list came to me one day when I was sitting on our living-room sofa, trying to pray. Life over the past few months had become almost unbearable. I was frozen on the inside. While sitting like this, spiritually numb, a thought suddenly came to me: Put the Word to work. I got some three-by-five cards, and on each one wrote the name of a family member, along with a Scripture that I could use to shape my prayers for that person. I began developing a stack of prayer cards that allowed me to pray through my life—for loved ones and friends, for non-Christians I’m building relationships with, for my church and its leaders, for missionaries, for my work and my co-workers, for character change in my own life, and for my dreams. Here are the overall guidelines I use when creating a prayer card.
- The card functions like a prayer snapshot of a person’s life, so I use short phrases to describe what I want.
- When praying, I usually don’t linger over a card for more than a few seconds. I just pick out one or two key areas and pray for them.
- I put the Word to work by writing a Scripture verse on the card that expresses my desire for that particular person or situation.
- The card doesn’t change much. Maybe once a year I will add another line. These are just the ongoing areas in a person’s life that I am praying for.
- I usually don’t write down answers. They are obvious to me since I see the card almost every day.
- I will sometimes date a prayer request by putting the month/ year as in 8/07. A prayer card has several advantages over a list. A list is often a series of scattered prayer requests, while a prayer card focuses on one person or area of your life. It allows you to look at the person or situation from multiple perspectives. Over time, it helps you reflect on what God does in response to your prayers. You begin to see patterns, and slowly a story unfolds that you find yourself drawn into. A list tends to be more mechanical. We can get overwhelmed with the number of things to pray for. Because items on a list are so disconnected, it is hard to maintain the discipline to pray. When I pray, I have only one card in front of me at a time, which helps me concentrate on that person or need.