A Measure of Spiritual Maturity

Prayer is an elusive discipline.  I never really feel I pray enough.  I find reading and studying God’s Word far more “natural” to me.  Prayer is a faith stretcher.  It forces us to put aside the intrusive call of our surroundings and speak to the unseen one, believing He is listening and trusting that He cares about us.  I regularly read a blog on Christian leadership written by a seasoned follower of Jesus who speaks at seminars and mentors leaders.  Rather than try to summarize, I want you to have the full benefit of a blog he posted this week about his own prayer journey.  It describes how his prayer life matured as he matured in his walk with the Lord.

MY PRAYER JOURNEY

Mar 20, 2017 05:09 am | Dave Kraft

I have been a Jesus-follower for 57 years. It has been an amazing and exciting journey; surprises, sudden turns, potholes, some detours and, at times, (many times) open roads with wide lanes. One of the aspects of my journey with Jesus is prayer.  

I believe one of the qualities of a maturing Christian and a fruitful and effective leader is a growing and deepening prayer life…not measured primarily by the number of minutes or hours spent in prayer but by a consistent attitude of dependency, expectancy and gratitude.

Many years ago I took a walk for several miles with my then mentor, Warren Myers. As we began walking he suggested we pray. I think I might have prayed for a grand total of 5  minutes and during that time prayed for everything and everyone I could possibly think of. I observed Warren as he prayed. He was quite oblivious to the time in a way that sent a clear signal that he loved to pray, loved Jesus and loved people. It was a walk in the school of prayer. Living with Warren in a home at that time with a few other young men for training, and observing his prayer life, deepened my desire to grow in prayer.

Since those experiences with Warren, I have learned a lot about a growing intimacy with Jesus through prayer.

When I first began to follow Jesus most of what I prayed about was for Him to do things FOR ME.  Lord, I need this and I need that. I’m struggling here and hurting there and want you to make life easier for me. It was mostly about me; my needs, my pain and my issues.

Then I was led by the Holy Spirit to begin focusing on things I wanted to see Him accomplish IN ME. Now it was about my character, my attitudes and my spiritual maturity; but still mostly about me.

Then I moved into a 3rd stage of praying about what I wanted to see Him do THROUGH ME.  Now the main focus was on others, not me. I am reminded of an old song we use to sing, “Channels Only.”

The refrain is:

“Channels only, blessed Master, but with all your wondrous power              

Flowing through us, you can use us every day and every hour.”

I am a channel, not a depository for God. I want his power and grace to flow through me not just to me.

Now I am not saying that you move from For to In to Through and then when you get to “through me” you are no longer interested in “for” and “to”; but more along the lines that as I grow in my prayer journey, it is less about what I want to receive and more about what He wants to build into my life and do through my life.

The first verse of  “Channels Only” continues:

“How I praise you precious savior that your love laid hold of me

You have saved and cleansed and filled me that I might your channel be.”

The bottom line is that the Christian life is not all about me, but all about Him and what He wants to accomplish in this world using me in the process.

Prayer is not a matter of bringing Jesus around to my way of thinking, but coming around to His way of thinking. I still have a lot to learn.[1]

I appreciate both Dave’s insights and his transparency.  Prayer, as he describes it (and as I believe Scripture teaches), is both a maturity builder and a maturity measure.  I encourage you to reflect on your prayers, asking whether they are “for”, ‘in”, or “through”.  Certainly all three are appropriate reasons, but the weight of our prayers as we mature should progress toward the latter.

Some quick updates…

The snowy landscape tells us that site work on the expansion project has been hindered.  The decision to use steel construction has stimulated work on the construction drawings, so we hope to start pursuing bids for the work soon.

The Gala team has been busy planning an exciting celebration and fundraising event for April 29th.  I hope you will attend and bring friends!

We will be baptizing 2 teens and 2 adults this weekend at the end of the 2nd service.  They will give testimony of their faith in both services.

We will be observing Easter in a new way for us this year, combining Palm Sunday, Thursday evening and Easter weekend services to commemorate Jesus’ triumphal entry, last supper with the disciples, crucifixion and resurrection.  More details will be in a special handout this coming weekend.  Again you’re encouraged to invite guests!

Blessings to you!

Mick

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[1] Dave Kraft, Leadership From the Heart, Blog post March 20, 2017

 

Categories: Mick's Memo