by Sara Hailwood
In a gallery in Madrid hangs a renowned painting of a young boy climbing out of the frame of his own portrait (Escaping Criticism by Pere Borrell del Caso). As I reflected on it, the picture communicated to me the very heart of God for His children. He longs to reach out and touch us but He fully knows our weaknesses and humanity and so He graces us with a framework of material and processes through which we can engage with Him in our prayer. If we will posture ourselves to encounter the Lord He is forever faithful and meets us, even though at times He strengthens us by requiring us to persevere.
“Ask and it will be given to you. Search and you will find. Knock and the door will be opened for you. The one who asks will always receive; the one who is searching will always find, and the door is opened to the man who knocks.”
– Matthew 7:7-8 (Phillips)
One of my weaknesses is that I can quite easily get bored, lose interest and shift focus. The finger in my mind presses ‘next’ too swiftly. I love new beginnings, new projects and new visions but to maintain and sustain these to fulfillment I really have to press into the Lord for refuelling my motivation and persevere against distractions. One place where this weakness is revealed is prayer and to my encouragement I was thankful to discover that many acknowledge similar experiences.
The primary sustainer of my prayer life has been the deepening revelation and experience of the love of the living Lord. His faithfulness in releasing an encounter of Himself within the prayer room is my cornerstone. But this is not a slot machine experience, and the Lord’s kindness and generosity towards me has enabled me to discover and enjoy the myriad pieces of a framework through which He enters to bring those encounters and times of abiding. He has given me a tool bag within which to carry the pieces of the framework, the treasures He has opened up for me, and when I ask him He shows me how and what to use. He helps me assemble the frame and through it He steps and His presence reaches out to meet me again and again.
Here are some of the tools, or pieces of my framework, that mean I’m always prepared to make the most of my times of personal prayer in the prayer room:
- The Bible. I usually have a bible reading plan, or a bible in a year reading scheme even if I only dip in and out of it. I also meet new aspects of the Lord in new versions or translations – currently I’m reading JB Philips translation. At other times I look back on my own meditation notes from the different places I’ve dwelt in the scriptures whether in the prayer room or at home.
- Other reading. Books are important to me, I read them prayerfully and the scriptures they refer to build my spirit and open me to fresh encounters with the living Word. For example, my trusty Oswald Chambers collection of daily readings ‘My utmost for His highest’ challenges me to grow in my spiritual capacity. I often pray through teaching notes or prophetic websites that have affected me.
- Prayer aids. Sometimes it’s helpful to have something as step by step as an acronym to keep us focused. Mike Bickle offers a few different ones: F-E-L-L-O-W-S-H-I-P for personal prayer; T-R-U-S-T for communion with the Holy Spirit; A-R-K to grow in the knowledge of God (See here). We can take names or attributes of God and pray in (A) agreement with these facets of Christ, seek greater (R) revelation, and finally pray to (K) keep these truths in our hearts. These very practical tools keep our dialogue with the Lord active and constructive. You might even like to come up with your own acronym if you find a particular approach that fuels your prayer times.
- Prayer lists. These are not simply shopping lists or legalistic means of earning God’s favour, but a practical and realistic way of reminding us of our objectives and keeping focused. My prayer lists include pages specifically for family, for friends, acquaintences, current colleagues, MHOP’s mandates, church members and leaders, neighbours, groups of which I am part, old colleagues, future plans, other peoples future plans, random people Ive felt the Lord highlighted, healing situations and my own journey. I note them in my List book and revisit it page by page. Newsletters from agencies and groups with which the Lord has linked me also keep my focus current.
The tools in my bag are countless and He will create your own personal set for you and you will discover your own creative ways to go beyond the framework into the company of Jesus because He is faithful and deeply desires to engage with you and keep you engaged with Him.
Come and engage with the Lord in the prayer room in your own unique way and let Him unfold to you the ways in which He longs to encounter and engage with you.
Source: Manchester House of Prayer