Prayer to change me

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This week in worship at Church of the Resurrection, we will hear about Esther, who had some very big decisions to make.
Sometimes life puts us in a place where we just don’t know what to do. We turn to God in prayer, but how will we recognize the answer?

C.S. Lewis said, “I pray not to change God’s will, I pray to change me.” A big part of our ongoing conversation with God is the change it brings about in our hearts, minds, and actions. When we are stuck, a good question to ask is, “How is God working to change ME in this situation so that I will be more like him, following his will more closely?”

It is more common to pray asking God to change the situation. Esther could have prayed, “God make Haman change his mind so I don’t have to risk my life by addressing the king.”  She could have prayed, “God, please protect me here in the palace from the terrible thing that is about to happen to all the Jews in the kingdom.”  We don’t really know – maybe she did.  We do know what happened. Esther changed. She became brave and faithful and stepped forward to save her people and her family.

Praying to see the change God wants to bring about in us is a very scary thing. But God has promised us change for the good.  In Jeremiah 29:11-14 God said this to some of his people who were living in danger: “For I know the plans I have for you…plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.”

God promised to listen. He also promised we will find him when we seek him, but we must be ready to accept the change that comes with finding his perfect will.  Look how well the change worked out for Esther!

Jennifer Creagar – Prayer Ministry

Praying for Wisdom

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In a dream one night, God appeared to Solomon and, in genie-in-a-bottle fashion, God said, “Ask!  What shall I give you?” (1 Kings 3:5).  What Solomon asked and prayed for was profound.  Solomon responded by saying, “Therefore give to your servant an understanding heart to judge Your people, that I may discern between good and evil.  For who is able to judge this great people of Yours?” (1 Kings 3:9).  Scripture tells us that this was pleasing to the Lord.

Often times we petition for many things, but how often do we petition for wisdom and understanding?  How often do we pray for discernment?  If you are struggling with something in your life and you have been petitioning God to bring an answer that you’ve predetermined to be the appropriate answer from God,  I want to invite you to open yourself up to praying a bit differently.  Pray for Wisdom.  Pray for Understanding.  And pray for Discernment.

In verse 13, The Lord says to Solomon, “See I have given you a wise and understanding heart.”  My prayer is that God would answer your prayer much in the same way.

– Pastor Michael Maroon

Pray as you are

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In Richard Foster’s Book, Prayer, he talks about what prayer is, and also what prayer isn’t.  He writes,

Our problem is that we assume prayer is something to master the way we master algebra or auto mechanics.  That puts us in the “on-top” position, where we are competent and in control.  But when praying, we come “underneath,” where we calmly and deliberately surrender control and become incompetent.  “To pray,” write Emilie Griffin, “means to be willing to be naïve.”

Naivety is hard work for proud and accomplished people.  It takes discipline to transition yourself out of the ‘I have to know it all’ mentality that is required to look and seem competent at work or with our children.  Yet, Foster argues that this transition is important for us to have a healthy prayer life.  Can we ever really get there though?  In catch-22 fashion, Foster argues that the only way we can get to this prayer-life of surrender is through prayer and by praying honestly about where we are in life. What makes this catch-22 possible is God’s transforming grace that is present in our prayers.

So, this week, I invite you to pray as you are.  If you find yourself in need of ‘prayerful incompetence’, then I encourage you to pray this prayer that Foster has provided for us.

“Dear Jesus, how desperately I need to learn to pray.  And yet when I am honest, I know that I often do not even want to pray.  I am distracted!  I am stubborn! I am self-centered!  In your mercy, Jesus, bring my “want-er” more in line with my “need-er” so that I can come to want what I need.  In your name and for your sake, I pray.  Amen. “

Pastor Michael Maroon

Forgiveness

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In the parable of the Unforgiving Servant in Matthew 18, we read about how receiving God’s forgiveness is inextricably linked to offering forgiveness to others.  God expects us to forgive just as God has forgiven us.  Another way to put this is God expects us to offer people that which we have received from God.  And yet, forgiveness is still something that we all deeply struggle with.  If you are wrestling with forgiving someone, I do hope you are in prayer about it.  God’s will is that of forgiveness.  Perhaps, your prayer life ought to be asking for “thy will to be done, not my will…”

As you find your heart softening to God’s will and are in a place to offer people forgiveness from your heart, then I invite you to pray this prayer:

“Heavenly God, you are holy and righteous.  You are perfect in justice.  I confess that I have not forgiven as you have commanded me to.   Through Jesus Christ, I now forgive these people: _________________ (list names and what they did to you).   I confess my pride and judgment of those people.  Please forgive me Lord and cleanse me from my sin.  Please help me to thoroughly entrust these people and the wrongs they caused me into your hands.  I pray that your will be done in my life and in their lives.  Please help me to no longer think on those wrongs , but instead to focus my thoughts on you.  I invite you, Lord, into any painful memories I have concerning what was done.  Please heal any wounds I received and help me to have your perspective on what happened.  (Take time now to pray silently and receive from the Lord) Thank you, Lord!   In the name of Jesus Christ I pray, Amen.”  -Prayer written by Paul Cook.

Pastor Michael Maroon


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