Thursday, March 22, 2012

Hope Lives - Week 4 - Guest Post by Jennifer Wilson

Jennifer Wilson is an advocate for Compassion. She has traveled to Peru to meet a sponsored child and her husband has traveled to Guatemala with Compassion. Jennifer writes regularly at Random Thoughts and has contributed here at Compassion Family in the past.

“Prayer is not just a thoughtful thing I do on the side, as I do the “real” work of helping others; prayer is the work.” pg. 119

I am a problem solver by nature.  I am such an A type personality, that I think I may be an A+!  To be honest, prayer is hard for me to trust.  I want to always be doing something.  I want to have a grand scheme or dynamic plan.  I don’t like to trust things to God.

I want to say that the reason I have trouble trusting things to God is because he has called me to serve and that we must not be simply hearers of the word, but doers of it also.  But when I really examine my heart, I realize that the reason I don’t trust more things to prayer is because I think I know how things should go or I have a “if it is going to get done, I will just have to do it myself” mentality.

Often, I will come to my wits' end or just not know how to help or what to do and I will have no other choice but to pray and do nothing else.  Then when God actually answers that prayer, without my “help” I am somewhat surprised and think, “Wow, that actually worked.  I need to try that more often!” – But then I quickly forget again.

On page 120, it says, “God doesn’t have to work through prayers to restore this world, but he’s chosen to honor me as his masterpiece created to do good works – how could I not pray?”  Again, stating that praying is indeed a good work. It is necessary and vital.  It is not something to make us feel good or just allows us to say, “I am praying for you,” when we don’t know what else to say. 

Have you ever had anyone who, when you told them something was wrong, stopped immediately to pray with you.  They didn’t say, “I will pray for you,” and then go on talking about the problem…not that there isn’t a time for that occasionally.  But they actually believe that prayer was vital enough to do it now and not later.  It makes such a difference to me when someone does that.  It makes me realize that it is between me and God in the first place and me and the person I am talking to second.  It takes them out of the role of being the one who comforts and counsels and puts me in direct contact with the One who can give all I need.

“Not only does God work through prayer to change this world, God works through prayer to change me.”… 

“Praying continually doesn’t just change what I do – it changes why I do it”…  

“I’m messed up.  Even with my best intentions, my motivations and ways meander.  I start well – I really want to help that one girl I know.  And I end badly – I really want praise for what I’ve done.  I start badly – I give money because I feel guilty.  And I end well – I learn humility from those I serve.” pg. 128.

This seems like it is the story of my Christian walk!  I find that my sinful nature is always trying to taunt or entice me by pride and success.  When I earnestly pray, these things have less pull on me and I am able to see things the way God wants me to see them.

I love the prayer ideas the author offers on Day 18.  I think one of the downfalls of my prayer life is that I don’t plan or think of it enough.  It is more often “on the fly” than it is concentrated and scheduled – which is odd for me, since I am such a structured person.  I have found that when I put the ideas she gives into practice, I place much more importance on prayer and less on what I can do.

The ideas listed on pages 131-132 are:
  • Commit to pray for those in need at the same time each day for a set period of time.
  • Build longer times of prayer into your schedule.
  • Plan what you’ll pray for
  • Pray specifically
  • Pray for things you’re passionate about
  • Pray in a structured way
  • Pray for the larger body of Christ

In addition to the ideas she has given, one thing I have recently started doing that has improved my prayer life immensely is to start praying the scriptures.  I learned this from a Beth Moore study.  It not only keeps my eyes in the Word of God, but it keeps my prayers from being a laundry list and reminds me just who God has been since the beginning of time! 

Sometimes as sponsors, we wish we could do more for our sponsored children.  But praying for them and telling them specifically what we are praying for them can be the best help we can give them.  And as we pray, we are changed as we are changed, the change in us affects those around us and then their hearts may be changed…and the ripple goes on and on.

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