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god in our lives

MATURE PRAYER

A guide to intentionally building intimacy with God
through the process of prayer
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1.    INTRODUCTION

Importantly, please read the small article, Sound Faith” before going on, if you have not already. It offers a framework for: building that level of sound faith, proving Gods existence for yourself as a result of applying that faith to your life, and receiving the potential benefits of his power in your life as a result!

As our relationship with God develops, and its intimacy deepens, it becomes easier to move into more advanced prayer. I will say that the sooner this happens, the better, because stronger faith itself is an outcome. Indeed, it positively impacts our complete faith journey

Getting back to the subject of this article, the power of prayer is definitely all the more obvious in the lives of those who are willing to spend more time in the presence of God (as I mentioned in the previous article, Prayers of Request). Do not forget that Bible or attending church either!

Mature prayer itself, fundamentally includes both devotional prayer and praying for needs outside our own: other people, countries and the world as a whole.

2.    PRAYING FOR OTHERS IN NEED

What I am saying here is there is nothing wrong with praying to get positive outcomes for ourselves with important issues in life (as in the Prayers of Request article) but bear in mind that prayer was never intended to be totally self oriented. Essentially, being a Christian is never just about me.

Praying out of concern for the plight of others, for example, ensures that one’s mind is outward looking and not overly self-indulgent. Such behaviour is certainly an expectation of Christianity. Praying for those less fortunate than ourselves is one ‘sure-fired’ way to place our own problems in perspective. There is just so much satisfaction available to us by bringing positive changes, through solid prayer sessions and Gods love for us all, to all sorts of life issues faced by others. And of course it is faith building for us as well.

Remember to always let those people, who you are praying for, know what you are doing for them if at all possible. This will ensure they know, when positive change does occur as a result of your prayers, that they have been on the receiving end of the Lord's loving care. In turn this will encourage them to grow in faith.

3.    THE NEED FOR DEVOTIONAL PRAYER

Also, and very importantly, God wants us to just spend time with him. And it is right to just give time to the Lord in prayer, because no relationship should ever be based solely on receiving; expecting all favours to come our way. Although he regularly demonstrates his love for us through his gifts in our lives, God definitely desires a two-way relationship with each of us.

        But when you pray, go into your room,
        close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen.
        Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.
        [Matthew 6:6]

That said, the idea of devotion, adoration or worship for anything outside ourselves really is a bit foreign to many of us these days. If we believe the hype we are offered, we are a special and lucky species; potentially in control of our own boundless destinies. And sure there can be periods of success, fulfilment and happiness in our lives without God. But ah, life has a habit of eventually biting us on the bottom; proving to us in no uncertain terms just how vulnerable we are to misfortune, pain and suffering! I remind you that it is indeed a great idea to pay homage to our God, the best one to provide support as we pass through the potential minefield that awaits us in life.

Unfortunately, we must also remember that we humans on the whole are often just too interested in matters that the Bible refers to as worldliness. And although not necessarily evil, an over interest in worldly matters can eliminate the chance to focus on spirituality. Attending to the buzz of modern life can soak up our lives completely. Modern communication methods such as texting and emailing can be bad enough, but what about the time drain of ever developing forms of social media such as Facebook and Twitter adding to the dilemma? Again, there is nothing wrong with these options of digital contact with friends, family and society, but there has to be a balance in life and faith.

Yes, mature prayer does require self discipline, but the rewards are waiting. Dedicated Christians always have, and still do, regularly put time aside to just spend with God. Substantial two-way conversations with God on our life issues can occur during these deep sessions. The article following this one discusses Listening to God”.

A better way to look at prayers of devotion/ adoration/ worship is to recognise that they provide us with a genuine sense of our real, not imagined,‘specialness’ in being able to have a one-on-one relationship with the ‘Being’ (the great “I AM) who enables the universe’s every moment of existence.

4.    WORKING OUR WAY INTO DEVOTIONAL PRAYER

Emotions play a big part in these mature prayers, just as our love towards our parents is, or should be, involved in our communication with them.

I personally find that just enjoying God’s company for a while, during most days, inevitably provides personal revitalisation and a real sense of peace in my life. I just open myself to his presence, as such, acknowledging him there. As a beginner, you do this through faith, assuming him to be there. With time, particularly as events in life gradually prove his presence there, he just becomes more and more real to you.

And I do literally feel the love during those sessions ... another incentive for mature prayer! Yes, it normally takes time to get to that stage in the relationship, but it also relies on our level of commitment and trust in him, which I will get to shortly. We cannot just conjure up the emotion of love obviously, to use in our relationship with him. So we need to work on it.

The Bible, particularly the New Testament Gospels, helps by giving us insight into Gods nature: his love of us. We should also look, as practising Christians, at what he has been doing in our lives. We have only to engage with him in life to initiate opportunities for him to apply his loving care directly to us. No, he won t force his way into our lives. We have to open ourselves to him; his love. We were born to do so! Earlier articles in this section of the website (God in our lives) offer guidance there. So, between the Bible and our life experiences, of receiving his loving care, we can come to feel deeper emotions about him. I just empty my mind of all thoughts and relax into his presence; feeling his warmth, his love towards me. Of course then I love him back.

It thereby gets easier and easier to love him. And we apply that growing sense of love towards him when spending time in mature prayer, and during the entire day for that matter.

As I have indicated already, praying regularly like this does not necessarily come easy to most of us. It does take discipline, time set aside etc, and we do have to continually work at it. Prayer life is no different to anything else we would like to succeed at. It is just that not much else can lead to improved contentment with, and direction in, life like a closer relationship with God.

Remember, asking God for help in developing these habits of prayer will prove very useful.

Also, have a look at the “Trusting God day to day and Trusting God with your life articles later in this section of the website. Those articles explain how to gradually deepen our sense of trust in the Lord. Firstly, this can make his presence become virtually concrete within our everyday lives and of course within prayer. Secondly, Gods obvious caring presence, that is illuminated via our deep ongoing trust in him, really proves his love for us.

So, mature prayer works hand in glove with that kind of deep trust in God. And wow ... I certainly know how that would all look to an atheist. Just as I was wrong when I was one, so they are now. Forgive me for having repeatedly pointed out my old mistaken views throughout this website.

And of course, time spent in a fellowship of faith; within a church, will lead to all kinds of evidence of Gods presence there. The Pentecostal/ Charismatic movement, throughout the greater Christian Church, can for example offer powerful, what I would even title tangible, evidence of his presence there. Any church though, should give us the means to note his subtle presence as a minimum, and the means to learn more about his grace. We should feel his love there too. Actually, connecting with him there in fellowships of faith is all the easier because of the company of our brothers and sisters in Christ (our fellow church goers).

Continue to the next article, Listening to God.