Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Public Prayer part 2

Hopefully you have read my post from Monday to see how God began dealing with my heart about my fear of praying aloud even within my bible study group.  At the same time He was showing me that I needed to over come this fear I found a book that had been given to me a few years ago but hi had never read it.  The book was Sun Stand Still by pastor Steven Furtick.  As I begin reading that book, reading the bibical story in Joshua God taught the following 3 things about my public prayer life.
The length of the prayer does not matter.
Joshua prayed just 15 simple words, "Let the Sun stand still over Gibeon and the moon over the valley of Ajalon." He knew God was with him and would provide so he just asked God for what he needed. Joshua knew that if they were still fighting when darkness fell that more of his men would be killed and some of the Amorites would get away. Because he had sworn and oath to defend the Gibeonites he and his army needed to finish the battle that day. They did not want to have to fight again. Yes we are to praise God with our prayers, offer thanksgiving for the things He has already done for us but then there are time that we just ask Him to provide for our needs. Again the lesson God wanted me to learn this week from studying this scripture is the fact that if I use a few words, lots of words or even no words He hears me and He answers.

The preciseness of the words does not matter.
Not only did Joshua say few words but the way he said it was all wrong. Now I am not scientist but if I remember back to elementary science class correctly, the earth rotate around the sun not the sun around the earth. So if God were one to require that our words be precise the prayer that Joshua would have had pray would have been that the earth stand still instead of that the sun stand still.

The only ears that matter are God's.
When Joshua voiced his prayer the Israelites were in the middle of a battle. I am sure there was yelling, screaming and a lot going on all around them. So I am not really sure anyone else even heard Joshua. It isn't that they purposely chose not to listen but they were fighting a battle. This was not a "long distance" type battle like our armies fight today. No this was one on one hand to hand combat. Basically each warrior was fighting is own individual battle. The same is true for us as we pray in our groups. It isn't that those around you do not want to eavesdrop on your conversation with God but the truth is they are fighting their own battle. A spiritual battle. One that they are calling out to God for.

What it comes down to is my duty as a leader praying aloud for those with me is not to impress them with Thee's and Thou's but rather to invite God to come into their battles and fight for them.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Public Prayer

The other night I made a confession to the ladies in my bible study group. I confessed that I am very uncomfortable praying aloud in class.

In a class that I teach and lead.

When I am alone my words, stammers and all just seem to flow out effortlessly. I'll spend time thanking Him for blessings, acknowledging Him for whom He is, asking forgiveness for sins and requesting care and protection for all. I just talk to Him. I speak as if I were speaking to a close friend or family member. I am not concerned that I might jumble up my words or run off track. I just talk.

So why it becomes so nerve wrecking for me to pray when others are present?

Since I do spend a good deal of time teaching and speaking to groups this fear is something that I have to face and overcome. As I began to try to figure out the why part of my fear I realized that my concern was not with how God would receive my prayer but instead how the others in the room would view me and my words. The stammers do not matter when it is just me and God. He knows my heart, what it is I want to say even before the word come out of my mouth. He knows what I am asking for even when there are no words, only tears. But in a group words are needed. They are needed and I thought (worried) that the words I said mattered. I had become so concerned with trying to make sure my words were pleasing to the human ears that I forgot the pleasure my voice was to His heavenly ears. This fear has held me so tight that I would just avoid public prayer at all cost.

In the Old Testament there was a man who not only prayed a very public prayer he also prayed a very audacious prayer. Joshua chapter 10 tells us that in the middle of battle Joshua cries out to the Lord. He doesn't get down on his knees, bow his head and fold his hands. He doesn't whisper quietly within his heart. He didn't have anything written down to read to God that would ensure he stay on track. No, He simple prays, "Let the Sun stand still over Gibeon and the moon over the valley of Ajalon." And guess what happened..... THE SUN ACTUALLY STOOD STILL! His prayer was answered and the battle was finished.

I have heard this story for years, read it a few times and even heard a couple of sermons on it but reading it through the last few days I have learned a couple of new things that has given me comfort to pray in a group.

Come back here Wednesday and I share with you a few more details of how the Sun standing still has taught me to pray.