A friend asked me today what I learned from our church's prayer conference. Although I've been applying much of what I learned, I had a hard time articulating it. (So, Stephanie H., this blog is for you because of my lame answers earlier this afternoon). Our guest speaker was Ben Patterson and his topic was "Deepening Your Conversation With God". I have the book with the same title and after the conference was over, I saw that much that was covered in the messages are already in the book.
The most convicting thing I learned was about persistent prayer. That God welcomes and honors pray-ers who don't let up and are willing to keep praying despite no observable answers or even when God ignores you, like Jesus did with the Gentile mom with a demon possessed daughter who kept worshipping Him in total humility. Patterson doesn't soften the story about Jesus' callous responses to her. But despite the cold initial responses, He healed her daughter and praised the mom's faith--something He only did twice as recorded in the Gospels. That compliment He also bestowed on another Gentile man--a Roman soldier who had a sick servant.
I've prayed long and hard about many things that are still unanswered. Some of these requests I've finally abandoned. My excuse is that I'm trusting God, but I think what I'm doing is protecting myself. From the Scriptures, the people of great faith were the ones who "wrestled" with God, not the ones who walked away. So, I when I do that, it's because I don't want to get dirty anymore with the spiritual sweat that comes from working hard at prayer.
The other thing I'm applying is when I'm talking with Dennis, my husband, I will start praying in the middle of our conversation directing what Dennis and I just talked about with God. Yes, I know that God just heard what we said because He is omniscient. But Dennis and I really enjoy our time together this way. Louretta, Ben's wife, and I talked in the hallway after church and I shared a burden about a family member. Before I left after our chat, Louretta spontaneously prayed with me for my family right there where we stood--no looking for a prayer closet or a quiet place but right in front of the coffee pot the busiest place on a Sunday morning in our church.
I also was glad to be reminded that the busier we are, the more we need to pray, not less. When I'm busy, it is easy to whittle away at the quiet time hour until I'm reduced to praying in the car going to where ever, which sometimes gives way to not praying at all. If I'm stressed because of a full schedule, I need to plan a lot better so that I remember that it isn't about me and that I labour in vain unless it's the Lord who builds the house. A friend (and she's really busy) and I will meet to discuss a bible study based on Bill Hybel's "Too Busy Not to Pray."
So there you go, Miss Hays. What you deserved to hear but I was too inarticulate to give you!