Thursday, August 31, 2006

Personal Growth: Christian Prayer

The Prayer of Relinquishment

I want to plant a visual icon in your mind for the Prayer of Relinquishment. To do so I need to tell you a little story—you will see how it fits presently.

[I was part of] a small gathering of about fifteen social workers. We met in my friend’s home. The first night on gentleman shared frankly, “Be easy on me because I am not one of you.” This was his way of saying that he was not a Christian, and the group received his comment graciously.

Throughout the weekend, the Spirit of God rested tenderly upon the entire group, so much so that this same gentleman asked quietly, “Would you pray for me that I might know Jesus the way you know Jesus?”

Strange as it may seem [one group member] prayed a commercial. He described a popular advertisement of the day for NesTea in which different people, sweltering from the summer sun, would fall into a swimming pool with a thirst-quenching sense of “ahhh!” on their faces. He invited this man to fall into the arms of Jesus in the same way. The gentleman suddenly began to weep, heaving heavy sighs of sorrow and grief. We watched in reverent wonder as he received the gift of saving faith. It was a tender, grace-filled moment…

This picture of a person falling into the arms of Jesus with a thirst-quenching sense of “ahhh!” is, for me, a perfect image of the Prayer of Relinquishment… The end result of the Prayer of Relinquishment brings us into soul-satisfying rest.

Excerpt quoted from Prayer: Finding the Heart’s True Home by Richard J. Foster. This book is extraordinary for its treatment of the subject of heartfelt prayer—the key to establishing deep intimacy with Jesus Christ.

I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. (Gal 2:20 ESV)

More Good Stuff

1. “Passionate Intercession, Raw Worship.” Under the direction of Mike Bickle, The International House of Prayer (IHOP) in Kansas City, Missouri offers a wealth of ministry opportunities, including national conferences, a full-time Bible school, a music academy, a children’s equipping center and podcasts. At the heart of this amazing mission is continued 24-hour intercessory prayer with worship and fasting teams covering 365 days a year. Check it out!

2. Would you like to help a blogging Mom? Please pray for Heather or Sarah. These faith-filled women are caring for their sick children 24/7 and need some extra support.

3. Do you need prayer today? Please click here.

Have you ever kept a prayer journal?

Photos courtesy of bingisser and Greg Robbins (Flickr)

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eph2810 said...

Oh - I so love the word-picture you have painted. Wonderful...Thank you so much.
I will check out Sarah's blog tomorrow. I know about Heather.

Thank you so very much for your wonderful comment on CWO's blog today. It ment a lot to me and you were the catalyst for me to write it again ~ Thank you.
Have a blessed Friday.

Troy & Tara & Tribe said...

I have not ever kept a prayer journal ... I think it would be a good way to stay focused in on your prayer time. It is easy to get distracted by kids and life, this might be the answer to that challenge. Thanks for the word picture. Tara

Carrie said...

I have temporarily kept a prayer journal but it is something I need to do. Prayer has not been a strong suit for me and I really need to work on it. Sometimes there is so much to pray for that I feel overwhelmed. However, I do usually talk to God throughout the day - I just forget things :)

Amydeanne said...

I have in the past kept a prayer journal, actually, my goal this month is to start journeling again.
Great post!

Amy said...

I loved reading that story, I use to keep a prayer journal but just haven't had time for a while, maybe I should get back into it.

e-Mom said...

eph2810: Thanks for praying for those dear Moms! Also, the CWO blog is a blessing, and thanks for devoting your time to it. *-)

tara: Keeping a prayer journal might be a fun thing to experiment with. The best part is recording God's answers. When times are dry spiritually, I love to go back and see how he really does intervene. Thanks for visiting again!

carrie: I've kept a prayer journal on and off. My daughter does too. Occasionally, when I'm not available to just "listen," she finds relief by writing down her overwhelming feelings as prayers. I find journalling to God gives me the same relief--and lots of insights.

amydeanne: Thanks for stopping in! It looks like your blog journal will be a good read.

Ame said...

I love this story. I love how God enables us to use what is in our lives to bring people to Him ;)

Journaling is so ingrained and woven into the fabric of me. Every entry is full of God's hand guiding me through His Word and my prayers in the Word and from my heart. I am always amazed when I read back through my journals ... to see the Sovereignty of God so delicately and clearly written on the pages by my hand.

It is in the depths we choose ... intimacy with God or someone or something else. I think it was Sarah's blog I just looked at. I have not been in the same depths, yet I have experienced the same God in the depths placed in my life.

Prayer has become so integral in my life ... my very breath :) Beautiful post.

Midlife Moments said...

Yes, I keep a prayer journal. Prayer for me is a constant conversation though, not just a section of my day. I pray through worship most of the day- singing is my passion.

Thank you for sharing this, and thank you for sharing the story of your friend. I can picture him falling into the arms of Jesus!


MugwumpMom said...

Wonderful post. The word picture is very bang on!! Love it.
I've kept a prayer journal...more like "letters to God", and when I go back and read the ones I wrote several years ago, I can actually see growth where I thought there was none. Who knew! Sometimes God's work really does just sort of sneak up in us, without us noticing. I love His subtlety.
It's good to be home and visiting you again!

lori said...

I do use a prayer journal. I like writing my prayers down in a jouranl, because it helps me to see just how much God is working in my life through answered prayer.

Lynn Donovan said...

e-Mom, I treasure your stories and your wisdom. When I need to be refreshed I click onto your site and am filled up with a new spirit. You are a blessing to me. Love and hugs, Lynn :)

e-Mom said...

ame: What a beautiful description of your journalling practice. It's neat to be able to look back and see how God has been gently guiding us along.

midlife moments: Prayer is part of the fabric of my day too. You sing? How wonderful.

mugwumpmom: I like your concept of "letters to God." When I read my old prayer journals, I see growth too... not always visible in my day-to-day life. Welcome home!

lori: Prayer journalling seems to be popular. I'm glad you enjoy it too.

lynn I'm delighted that you find refreshment here. It's wonderful to encourage each other through our blogs. You bless me too!

Jennifer said...

I go through seasons with prayer journals. I am not currently keeping one, but at times, I love to track and record. However, when I keep one (in the same way) for too long, I find that it begins to stifle my prayers, so for now, I am off it. I have been thinking for a while that it's time to start it back up.

Robin said...

E-mom-alicious, and I have this "timing" thing going on. So often the things you write about are relevant in my life at the same time! Most recently, I'm thinking of the Young Life link you just added, on about the same day I mentioned it. JINX! :)

Anyway, here we go again. Our adult bible fellowship has just completed a "marriage" study (using "Love & Respect" and "For Women Only" as an impetus for discussion), and guess what our next topic is? You guessed it...prayer! Guess what book my husband asked me to order for him...right, again, Foster's book on prayer. We read "Celebration of Discipline" maybe two years ago; and I've picked up another prayerbook of Foster's, and Tad felt like he covered the gamet in "Prayer".

One thing that had always concerned Tad (well, both of us) as a teacher, is class members' reluctance to pray; instead, they're GREAT at TELLING their prayer requests, but then no one wants to actually pray. The other concern is the "typical" laundry list of prayer requests--job, health, or other people who no one in our class knows--rather than growing in intimacy with God. When measured against the prayers recorded in scripture, well...sadly...often they don't even come close.

Those are not statements of judgment; they're observations. These things grieve me. As I've looked at how Paul prayed, how and when Jesus prayed, and the beautiful language of the Psalms and prayers in general in the OT, I just realize the stark contrast.

We barely begin to understand the power and transforming effect of prayer--through this most intimate of conversation, we. are. changed :).

This reminds me of a Barlow Girls song I was listening to today, "My God's Enough":

I've had enough of living life for only me
And reaching just for the things that keep destroying me
So sick of envying the lives of so many I see
Somehow believing that they have what I need

My God's enough for me
This world has nothing I need
In this whole life I've seen
My God's enough, enough for me
I can't explain why I suffer though I live for You
Those who deny You they have it better than I do
Cover my eyes now so that my heart can finally see
That in the end only You mean anything

Who have I in heaven but You
Nothing I desire but You
My heart may fail but not You
You are mine forever."

My prayers have begun to shift from having temporal "needs" met (which are too often "wants") to asking for an enlightened heart that seeks God and His wisdom. Because that is enough.

(gosh, can you tell I've been away from blogging? lol...trying to begin the great catch up!)

e-Mom said...

jennifer: I'm on and off like you. When times are most stressful, I tend to journal my prayers. Times must be pretty good right now, because most of my prayers are verbal!

robin: LOL... too funny about being on the same "wavelength." Eph2810 from "Sting My Heart" recently recommended For Women Only too. Haven't read it, but it's now on my list! Yes, Foster's book on prayer is excellent. My women's group covered it in a summer book club last year. Glad you're going to study it in your adult fellowship.

I totally hear you about the "laundry list" of prayer requests, with little heartfelt follow-up prayer time. In this post, I intended to include a link to an article "Praying Beyond the Sick List" published by ByFaith Online on this very subject but they wouldn't let me link. (Google it if you're interested.) Anyway, prayer is a very intimate activity, and I think some people are shy about expressing themselves publically.

Thanks for that beautiful song! I hope you post it on your site.

Robin said...

THANKS for the link for "Praying Beyond...". WOW! This is sooooo timely! Did I say "thank you"? lol

I DID post the song and a link to the audio clip on pensieve; thanks for the suggestion :).

e-Mom said...

robin: Glad you enjoyed the article. I may quote it in a later post. GB!

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