During a conversation with our friend, Michael Akotia, from Ghana a few weeks back I asked him for some advice about parenting and how to help ensure our children grow up with good foundations because, let’s face it, if you’re a parent, you need all the help you can get! After giving me a number of helpful tips and hints, Michael told me a story about something he does every day with his children as he drops them off at the school gates. He grabs his children by their hands and prays for them using a passage from Numbers 6:
‘The Lord bless you and keep you;
The Lord make his face shine on you
And be gracious to you;
The Lord turn his face towards you
And give you peace.’
I liked this idea a lot, it was simple, it was straight from scripture and, most importantly, it is something which is easy to remember. After our conversation I decided to steal the idea for myself. Every night now as I’m putting Eden down in her cot I say these words to her (usually while she is screaming at me). I love it and it has become part of our nightly routine. I have said them so many times now that I can repeat them without even getting my Bible out. They are ingrained on my mind. In fact, I can almost say them without actually thinking about what I’m saying because I’m in the habit of saying them every night now.
This got me thinking. Can’t our prayer life sometimes feel a bit like that? If we are not careful, prayer can become more of a habit than a two-way relationship. In the book of Jeremiah, God tells us to call to Him and He will answer us. Prayer can be an opportunity to spend time with our father but the reality is that sometimes we can simply make it routine.
We may pray at the same time every day, such as before we go to sleep or after our breakfast, to the point that it becomes more of a tick-box activity than quality time spent with our Father. Or even worse, it can be so easy to forget who we are praying to and we can just come before God with a list of things to ask for, or things to be thankful for without even stopping to think about God himself. It can just be about words.
In the book of Ecclesiastes, Solomon warns us not to be quick with our mouths when we are bringing things before God. (Ecclesiastes 5:2). That is a challenge to me when it comes to my prayer life. How different would our prayer life be if we didn’t simply start talking but instead stopped to think about God before we actually started praying. What would the result of that be?
Try it now. Stop and think about God for a second. This is the creator of the heavens and earth, the one who is responsible for all of creation. Think about the galaxies that exist, more than 350,000,000,000 if we wanted to take an educated guess. Think about all of the natural beauty we see around us. Think about the detail and the intricacy of creation. Think about the diverse nature of God revealed through creation. Think about how many different types of plants there are, or how many different types of insects, or how many different varieties of apples! God didn’t have to create all of these things. But he did. Why? – Maybe it was to remind us of just how awesome He is. I’d like to think so.
Feeling excited about God yet?
One of my all-time favourite worship songs, ‘Indescribable’ by Chris Tomlin is always a really helpful reminder for me about how amazing God is. Look at some of the lyrics;
From the highest of heights to the depths of the sea
Creation's revealing Your majesty
From the colours of fall to the fragrance of spring
Every creature unique in the song that it sings
You placed the stars in the sky and You know them by name.
You are amazing God
All powerful, untameable,
Awestruck we fall to our knees as we humbly proclaim
You are amazing God
Who has told every lightning bolt where it should go
Or seen heavenly storehouses laden with snow
Who imagined the sun and gives source to its light
Yet conceals it to bring us the coolness of night
None can fathom
You see the depths of my heart, and you love me the same.
You are amazing God
copyright: Capitol Christian Music Group
How often do you stop and think about God before you pray? When we take the time to actually think about God, and I mean really think about him, our only response should be that of awe and wonder. Being literally overcome, or lost in awe and wonder when we think about God.
I want to challenge you this month to stop simply praying. Instead spend some time thinking about God. Thinking about his characteristics, thinking about how big He is and about the amazing things He has done in your life. Let that shape your prayer life. Forget about the lists, forget about the routine - focus on God.
If we get out of the habit of just praying and, instead, spend time getting lost in God’s wonder I feel that it will radically change our prayer life and in turn, radically change our church, and that can only be a good thing!
Watching my children sing and dance along to their favourite worship song taught me a couple of lessons about joy and faith. Jesus also had a lot of say about having childlike fath when teaching his disciples in Luke 18.
This will be the first Easter in three years that we’re able in Jubilee to gather together to celebrate, and the Easter message is still as powerful as it was 2,000 years ago!
Starting on Tuesday 15th March we are committing a whole month to prayer. Prayer has always been the bedrock of a Christian life with God. Prayer is what unites us to God in the here and now. Through prayer we experience the friendship and lordship of God through His Word and Spirit. In prayer we come to all three persons of our One Majestic God.