The Prayer Collector

We know God as our Healer, Friend, Savior, Prince of Peace, Heavenly Father, Wonderful Counselor, Almighty God, Creator and many other things.  But have we ever looked at God as a collector of prayers?

In Chapter 17 of The Circle Maker, Mark says, “In much the same way that God bottles our accumulated tears (Psalm 56:8), God collects our prayers.  Each one is precious to Him.  Each one is sealed by God.  And you never know when He’s going to uncork an answer.”

I’ll admit that I have never viewed God as a prayer collector.  I have looked at Him as the One who answers our prayers, but not really as collecting them.

Imagine for a moment that every time you lift up a prayer, God grabs it tightly and gently places it in the box marked for you.  Every prayer you speak over someone or something, He hears and He does not forget.  Each prayer is precious to Him because you have lifted it up.  You are special to Him and He collects these prayers and will answer them when it’s time.

One important thing we tend to forget, though, is that when our prayers go unanswered, we feel as if God hasn’t heard us.  Or that He doesn’t care about us.  We feel that our prayer has been lifted up only to be discarded by God.  Like it’s not worthy of being answered.

How much further from the truth can that be?

So what can we do to teach our kids that God does hear us and He does answer prayer?

One idea is to have a Family Prayer Box.  Have each family member write down prayer requests (one prayer per slip of paper).  Collect these prayers in your own family prayer box (make sure to put the date on the slip of paper).  Every night when you sit around the dinner table or before bed, have each family member draw a prayer request from the box, drawing until all of the requests have been taken out.  Then pray individually for each request.  After you pray, place the request back into your family prayer box.  As prayers are answered, you can take them out and place them in the “Answered Prayers” box.  This will allow your family to visually see that God does hear us and that He does answer prayers.

This activity will help your family see God as The Prayer Collector.  What a great visual to see that the prayers we lift up are collected by God and answered in His time.  Not our time, but only His time.  And what a great way for you also to give thanks and praise to God as you transfer those collected prayers over to the answered prayers.

Journal Questions
1.  What do you think about this view of God as The Prayer Collector?

2.  What prayer do you feel has been lost by God because it has gone unanswered?

3.  Write out a prayer to the Lord, viewing Him as The Prayer Collector.  This could be a prayer of forgiveness, a prayer of thanksgiving, or a prayer of petition.

ASAP Prayers

img_8192 We live in a world where we can get most anything instantaneously.  Need to contact someone?  Call their cell phone.  Want someone to answer you immediately?  Text them.  Love a song?  Download it onto your iPod or phone.  Need an answer for something?  Google it.  Don’t have time to cook?  Run through the drive-through at your favorite fast food restaurant.  Want a new recipe?  Find it on Pinterest.  Want to catch up on your favorite tv show?  Watch it on Netflix.

Anything you want, right here right now, you can pretty much get.  And we have become accustomed to this mentality, too.  We have even rolled this thinking over into our relationship with God.  I mean, who else can give us anything we want at any time, but God, right?

In our prayers, we ask God for many different things:  healing, forgiveness, provision, wisdom, peace, and so much more.  And many times, even if we don’t say it out loud, we are thinking that we really want God to answer our prayer.  Like right then.  Or for sure in the next day or two.  We aren’t even thinking that our prayer might not be answered at that time.  We want our prayers answered and we want them answered now.

Mark Batterson calls this the ASAP approach (p.196).  We need this God, and we need it as soon as possible.  Please don’t delay, Lord.  I’m not sure if we can make it.  I don’t think I can take this much longer.  Please, hurry up, God!

We get in this frame of mind that what we ask God for needs to happen now.  And if it doesn’t happen now, then it needs to happen really soon.  If our prayer doesn’t get answered, then we stop praying for it.  We think that God either doesn’t hear us, doesn’t care about us, or thinks this prayer is not worthy of being answered.  As Mark says, “we stop circling” (p. 196).

What we need to realize, though, is that the only prayer answered instantly from God is that of forgiveness.  We know that God forgives each one of us no matter what we do.  All we have to do is ask.  So there’s no question of if or when He will forgive us.  As soon as we ask, we are forgiven.

All other prayers that we pray are not guaranteed to be answered right away. God doesn’t promise that He will answer at that moment or in a few days.  Wouldn’t it be great if He did, though?

What Mark wants us to remember throughout this whole book….Keep Circling!  We need to get out of the mindset that our prayers need to be answered ASAP, and we just need to keeimg_8194p praying.  We need to trust that God hears us and that He will answer us.  We should leave behind any doubts or frustrations we get when our prayers aren’t answered quickly.  And may we all remember the words of Paul from Colossians 4:2:

“Be persistent and devoted to prayer, being alert and focused in your prayer life with an attitude of thanksgiving.”  (AMP)

Finding Your Prayer Ritual

img_80815:00 am wake-up call.  Take shower.  Put on clothes.  Take dog out to use the bathroom.  Put on make-up.  Say good-bye to husband as he walks out the door anywhere between 5:30-6:00 am.  Dry my hair.  Fix my breakfast.  Fix my kids lunches.  Feed dog.  Read my Bible.  Pray.  Wake up kids.  Read Bible some more.  Yell at kids to get up again.  Take out dog so he won’t poop in the house.  One kid up and going.  Yell at other one again.  Fix kids hair.  Listen to them complain about not wanting to get up and go to school.  Fix their breakfast.  Remind them to brush their teeth.  Yell again because one kid is still complaining. Get in the car.  Drive to school.  Pray with kids before they are dropped off, asking God to forgive us for yelling and complaining so much.  Tell kids I love them.  Drop them off at school.  Go to work (or to workout depending on day).

That is my morning ritual.  And it’s usually a crazy one at that.  It often involves a lot of yelling, but only because that one child just won’t get out of bed.  But by the time we get in the car, all is well.  My mornings are filled with a hurriedness that I don’t like.  And I get up at 5:00 am so you think 2 1/2 hours is enough time to get it all done before we walk out the door.  I try to get stuff done the night before if I can, but sometimes I forget or I’m just too tired from the day’s activities.

I’ll be honest, though, the one thing that has gotten pushed further down on my morning ritual list is my time with God.  I get so stressed about getting out the door that I run around like a chicken with my head cut off and I often times cut short the one thing that matters the most.

In chapter 13 of The Circle Maker, Mark says:  “One important dimension of prayer is finding your own ritual, your own routines (page 159).

I have gotten distracted by those things that don’t matter.  I need to find my prayer ritual again.

Some of you may be asking why in the world do you need a prayer ritual.  Just sit and spend time with God and pray.  And while all of that is great, the one thing that helps me is having a focus; things to make sure I do while I spend time with God.  This includes reading the Bible, reading devotions, praying, singing, and keeping a prayer journal.  And while I don’t do each of these every time (due to one of many excuses), I actually long to do all of them.

I am using the First Five App by Proverbs 31 Ministries.  I love this app because we study a book of the Bible and 1 chapter from the Bible that day.  I make sure to read the Scripture first and then read the devotion that P31 Ministries writes.  Combining those two helps me dig deeper into his Word and learn more about Him.

Another part of my prayer ritual involves singing.  I love being able to put in my earbuds and belt out a praise song.  Of course, I can’t really do that at home early in the morning with everyone asleep, but I can sing softly for sure. I love the times I spend with Him when I do get those brief few minutes to myself and can sing loudly.  Those are some pretty awesome worship moments with the Lord.

And of course, prayer is a must for a prayer ritual.  I learned a good way to pray when I was a child and I use this method when I spend my quiet time with God.  It’s the acronym ACTS:  Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving, Supplication.

Adoration…Show God how much you adore Him and give Him praise.  Confession….spilling your heart to the Lord and seeking forgiveness of your sins.  Thanksgiving….giving God thanks for the many blessings He has provided you with.  And Supplication…lifting up all others in prayer before you lift up yourself.  Using the ACTS formula has helped me stay focused and made me excited and wanting a desire to spend time with God daily.

Now, I know what you’re probably thinking….rituals aren’t good because they can become remote and you can lose your heart and desire to want to serve and worship Him.  And that’s why every now and then, switching up your normal ritual and doing a new thing is a good idea.  That might include changing your space (I love quiet times with the Lord in our sanctuary or outside), reading a new book of the Bible, reading a new devotion, reading new books, praying in a new posture, singing different songs.

Batterson discusses Daniel and his routine of prayer each day (page 141).  Once Daniel had heard of the new law of no one being able to pray to God, he found his new prayer ritual.  He decided to pray three times a day with the windows wide open.  He didn’t care who would see him.  He just knew and believed that he was following what the Lord wanted him to do.

What is your prayer ritual?  Do you have one and need to resurrect it?  Or do you need to start with a brand new prayer ritual?  Whatever the case, God longs to spend time with you.  Do you long to spend this same time with God?

Journal Questions

  1. Read Daniel 6.  Why do you think Daniel continued to pray even though it was against the law?
  2. What is one thing you need to do more of in your prayer time with God?
  3. What are some of the rituals you have every day? How does this distract you?

The Power of Prayer Posture

prayerI know I probably say this with every post, but The Circle Maker is truly changing the way I think and pray. And this section on thinking long is no exception.  These four chapters are filled with inspiring stories from Mark’s life about dreaming big, praying hard, and thinking long.

In chapter 13, Mark discusses prayer posture.  He says, “If words are what you say, then posture is how you say it” (page 152). Types of prayer postures that come from Scripture are: “kneeling, falling prostrate on one’s face, the laying on of hands, and anointing someone’s head with oil” (page 152).  Have you ever prayed in one of these types of posture?  I think I have tried all of these, although I haven’t anointed someone with oil, but someone has anointed me with oil.

I can remember a time when I was a child and I prayed by falling prostrate on my face (although at the time I had no idea it was a type of prayer posture).  I was sick with a stomach bug.  I had just thrown up and went back to my Mama’s room and fell on my face, crying out to God to take away this sickness.  I did not like throwing up and my stomach hurt so bad.  Who knows why I can recall that memory only to say that I was praying with a deep desperation for God to take away my pain.

What about your hands?  What are you doing with your hands when you pray?  We teach our kids to fold their hands, bow their heads, and close their eyes to pray.  But, what if when we pray, we turn our hands up.  Mark says that this represents a “posture of receptivity.  We actively receive what God wants to give” (page 152).  When we pray with our hands faced up we willing to accept all that God has to bless us with.  We are open to God and His will.

I graduated college with a Bachelor of Science in Psychology.  One of the classes I had to take was a Counseling class.  In that class we learned that when we meet with someone to counsel them we need to sit in a positive position, which includes open arms (not crossed) and uncrossed legs.  This signifies to the client that we are listening and we are hearing what they are saying.  If we crossed our arms or legs this symbolizes that we are closed off and don’t want to listen.  It was hard to make those changes as my normal sitting position is arms and legs crossed!

I have taken what I have learned in that counseling class and applied it to my prayer life.  If my posture is closed when I’m praying then I’m thinking God thinks I am not open and receptive to all that He wants to bless me with.  I try hard to remember to sit with hands open, to kneel, to lay prostrate on my face.  I want not only my words to say, “I am ready, Lord”, I want my prayer posture to say it too.

In that same chapter, Mark discusses how powerful your proximity to the person, place, or thing you are praying for can be.  He says that proximity “creates intimacy, authority, and is a way of marking God’s territory” (page 154).  He also goes on to say that “physical contact creates a spiritual conduit” (page 154).

The day I read that passage of the book, I was going to visit a friend and her daughter.  My friend’s daughter had just gotten home from being in the hospital for two weeks with an infection in her spine.  I had not been able to go to the hospital to see her, but had been praying daily for her healing.  When I went to visit her that day, I told her what I had read in The Circle Maker and asked if it was ok for me to pray for her right then and also to lay my hands on her back to where she felt the pain.  She and her mom immediately said yes and we prayed.  Right then and there.  And what an amazing, Spirit-filled prayer time we had.

Laying on of hands is a very powerful prayer posture.  Any chance I have of praying for a person, I try to pray with them at that moment they ask me to pray for them, and if I’m close to them, I will pray by laying on of hands.  Like Mark said, there’s just something about being near to the one you are praying and being able to physically touch them and speak God’s healing upon them.

As you pray this week, pay special attention to your posture.  How are you positioned when you pray?  Are you closed off or does your body show God that you are open to His blessings and that you surrender yourself to Him?  Are you falling at His feet or are you too busy to even sit still to pray?  Are you kneeling?  Are you spreading God’s power by laying on of hands?

My challenge to you is to practice one of these prayer postures this week.  And if you can and are in close proximity to the one you are praying for, lay your hands on them and pray for them.  It will be a blessing to both you and the one you are praying.

Journal Questions

  1. Do you think about your posture when you pray?  What is one change you can make in the way you pray?
  2. The Bible is filled with examples of people who fell prostrate on their face and prayed.  Read Genesis 17:1-6, 1 Chronicles 29:20, and Matthew 26:36-39.  Why did the people in each of these passages fall on their faces and pray?
  3. Read Acts 8:14-25.  What did Simon offer the apostles when they laid their hands on them?  Why did Peter tell Simon he needed to do?