ARE YOU A PERSON OF PRAYER?
Recently, I attended a small church where I knew very few people. As the service ended, I turned to introduce myself to a woman with whom I had just passed the peace. I expected to engage in one of the usual conversation topics among strangers. Instead she looked me straight in the eye and said, “Are you a woman of prayer?” I didn’t know what to say. I do take prayer seriously. I believe that prayer is both a duty and a joy for God’s children. I believe that God hears our prayers and answers them, sometimes with a “no”, often with a bigger “yes” than we ever imagined. But I also always fall short of being the kind of praying Christian I long to be. I had to be honest with this stranger: “I want to be, but I’m not there yet.”
I am not alone in my feelings of inadequacy when it comes to prayer. Even after spending many hours and days with Jesus, his followers felt the same. They knew how important prayer was to him. They watched him trying to carve out time to talk with his Father, looking for a quiet place away from the incessant demands of the needy. As the writer to the Hebrews tells us, “During the days of Jesus’ life on earth, he offered up prayers and petitions with fervent cries and tears to the one who could save him from death” ( Heb 5: 7). Unsurprisingly, the disciples longed to share Jesus’ intimacy with his Father, to draw close to the source of his power and identity. Their request, “Teach us to pray.” has been echoed through the centuries as believers long to grow in all ways to be like Jesus.
In Artizo, we all want to learn how to come into God’s presence in prayer. We go to the Scriptures to find out how Jesus taught his followers to pray and we follow his example. We see that Jesus taught prayer in four ways: he gave instructions about a right attitude as we pray: persistence, humility, and faith in God’s goodness. He taught a short, liturgical prayer suitable for all occasions — the Lord’s Prayer. He modelled a life of prayer, calling out to God in different places, in different ways, for different needs. In the time of his greatest pain, humiliation, and loneliness, he used the words of Scripture to call out to his Father. Jesus taught and lived prayer and we want to do the same.
We could spend all our time at our Artizo meetings exploring these ideas, but that would lead us into an interesting trap: talking about prayer instead of praying. It is always a danger in prayer meetings! We try to discipline ourselves to leave time for the vital work of prayer. We take turns leading prayer in different ways so that we will be comfortable in all the various situations in which we might find ourselves, both in pastoral ones and personal ones.
If we do ministry with honesty and self-awareness we are constantly made aware of our inadequacies. Like Jesus’ first disciples we realize that we don’t know how to pray. Sometimes we have the knowhow, but we can’t actually do it: exhaustion, fear, niggling doubts, sorrow, or shame can all set up barriers between ourselves and the Lord we long to talk to and hear from. When Jesus was facing the unbearable pain of the cross, he asked his disciples to watch and pray with him. Here is another example of Jesus teaching us about prayer: we need help; we need others to pray for us.
Artizo’s prayer requests
In Artizo, we are deeply thankful for all the people who love and care for us by praying. Here are some of our needs as we learn to serve in churches and the wider Christian community. Please pray:
- for good study and time management skills as apprentices juggle courses, jobs, personal lives, and preparation for each ministry opportunity
- for understanding family and friends to give them the day-to-day encouragement they need to thrive
- for freedom from fear about the future; for the ability to trust God to provide for all their needs
- for joy in serving and delight in even small signs of growth and renewal in the lives of those they serve
- for the RENEW vision to staff ANiC churches across the country with well-equipped preachers and teachers serving with skill and passion
- for wisdom and strength for all those who train and supervise
- for all the graduates of Artizo working in various ways to build up the Church and bring in the Kingdom
- for thankful hearts for all God’s goodness and mercy, and provision for Artizo through the years, and confidence in God’s direction for the future.
Susan Norman has been teaching the Bible for many years to women in a variety of women’s groups, to university students, to youth and seniors, in churches, university campuses, at retreats, and in her home. She has a long history of training Christian leaders, has worked for Inter-Varsity Christian Fellowship for many years, and currently works with IVCF mentoring, training, directing, and participating in ministry with leaders and students. She has a deep love for God and a sincere passion for his work.