Open to the Spirit

Teach me to Pray

This devotional was created by Matt Coombs.

Matthew 26:40-41

40 Then he returned to his disciples and found them sleeping. “Couldn’t you men keep watch with me for one hour?” he asked Peter. 41 “Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.”
42 He went away a second time and prayed, “My Father, if it is not possible for this cup to be taken away unless I drink it, may your will be done.”
43 When he came back, he again found them sleeping, because their eyes were heavy. 44 So he left them and went away once more and prayed the third time, saying the same thing.

Reflection

I find prayer difficult. I know I'm not alone with this. As today's passage shows, even the disciples struggled with prayer.

The spirit is willing, but the body is weak.

Whether it is falling asleep in prayer like the disciples, or as simple as our minds are busy rushing through a million things. It's common for us to find prayer difficult.

For me, when it's good, prayer is about intimate connection with God. Intimacy begins with personal relationship. You can't be emotionally intimate with someone you don't know. In the New Testament we see the close relationship that Jesus had with his Father in heaven. After a busy day preaching, healing and delivering, Jesus would go and spend time in prayer. It fuelled him to go and do his Father's will.

God has something similar in mind for us.

We can sometimes fall into the mindset that 'I need to be in right standing with God, know the right scripture etc, and then God will answer my prayers.' However, I think our prayer life should be more like a child climbing into his Father's arms, and less like an lawyer standing before a judge.

Prayer begins and ends with relationship.

The Sound of Silence

I have recently been trying to spend more time in silence as part of my prayer life. I'm an activist, I like to get things done. If I'm honest, there is a part of me that thinks I'm only as loveable as my last achievement. Anyone else? Silence, and literally doing nothing is part of the way I reject that old-self part of me.

How does it work?

It's a lot like Ministry on a Sunday but on my own. When I wake up, I move to the other room and sit on a hard chair, set an alarm on my phone for however long I want, place my hands open in my lap and I ask God to fill me by his Spirit and his love.

That's it.

Now, before you start thinking that I am some Zen master. My mind wanders. A lot.
When that happens, I don't tell myself off, but try to come back to a place of peace and silence and then I'll repeat my prayer "Come Holy Spirit, fill me with your love."

I imagine that some people don’t even think that is prayer.

For me, this has been a transformational addition to my prayer life. It was a bit of a slow burner, and it's got better as I've done it more regularly. Starting the day resisting my base urges of achievement, and resting in the Father's love has really helped me increase that sense of intimacy with God. Also, by entering into silence at the beginning of the day, I find it easier to pray later in the day, and in doing so, I have more to give other people having already received from my Father in heaven.

Perhaps you'd like to give this a go too.

All you need is somewhere quiet to sit (you can do your sofa or an arm chair if you’d prefer).

A count down timer on your phone. Don’t run before you can walk. Maybe just try 15 minutes today.

Do a few days and see what you make of it.
 

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