A Prayer to Keep God in the Center
“The biggest battle we each might fight is to stay focused on God long enough to learn to abide in His presence. Before we can redeem the world, we must redeem our time. And we would think that with all the time saving conveniences we have in life, that this would be easy but it is not." Francis Frangipane
A focused life is not scattered in many directions because of the distractions. A focused life always moves to the center even in the busiest times because it is like a magnet attracted to Jesus, knowing that He alone is the one who makes everything work when priorities are in order.
We used to live in Virginia Beach so we learned a lot about hurricanes. A few years ago we had a hurricane called Ernesto that swept through the area. Ernesto was not a very forceful hurricane, yet many trees fell because of the strength of the winds. Many people lost one or more trees during that hurricane. It left Virginia Beach in a huge mess with trees and branches lying everywhere.
The stability of the trees depended on how deep the roots went below the surface. Shallow roots could not stand the force of even a small hurricane. In Virginia Beach in mild weather you could never tell how deep a tree’s roots extended, but in a hurricane the truth was exposed. Shallow roots meant a big downfall. The roots just could not sustain the tree.
Likewise, right now God is developing our prayer life and the depth of our personal relationship with Him. He wants us to be stable and strong in difficult times as we keep Him in the center of our life.
This 4 1/2 minute prayer will help you to keep God in the center of your life. It is called: A Prayer to Keep God in the Center.
This is from the Intercessors Arise International School of Prayer.
Intercessors Arise International
International House of Prayer Kansas City (IHOPKC)
For all the years I have suffered with my cancer my pain has been surprisingly minimal. But for the past week I have had some severe pain. I just left my doctor's office. To his surprise and my delight, it is evidently not caused by my cancer. But it still hurts.
In his book, The Problem of Pain, C.S. Lewis calls pain, God's megaphone.
"God whispers to us in our pleasures, He speaks to us in our conscience, and He shouts to us in our pain."
I doubt if it surprises you that police and fire engine sirens or the smoke alarm in your bedroom don't play Beethoven melodies or the latest jingle from a TV commercial. Their purpose is not entertainment but alarm.
Although it may go against most modern American thinking, it is not necessarily the will of God that our lives be filled with pleasure, comfort and entertainment.
Above all else God wants us to hear His voice and respond to His grace. It is through pain and suffering that we are shocked into the realization that there is something wrong in our lives and in the world. Through pain God quickly gets our attention.
Pain certainly calls us to pray. But prayer does not often relieve the pain immediately. And we need to learn to pray while we are hurting. Over the years of minor to moderate pain prayer has been a comfort and joy. This week, my pain increased enough that the pain pills the doctor give me do not take away all the pain. Sometimes they don't seem to do anything at all.
Among other things, I have to ask God to help me focus on what I am praying. I have to ask God to help me focus on other people and greater needs. It is still true that nothing lifts my heart like worship and praise. But I need God's Spirit to keep my attention on His glory.
Of course, we always need God to help us pray. We even need the Spirit of God to teach us what to pray. We need His hand on every facet of prayer. I have become painfully more aware of that.
Lord, I need You not only to teach me, but to help me pray.
One of the best things about the discipline of praying for organized lists of people is that God impresses me with difficult people to pray for. It strains my prayer life to pray for people I do not necessarily like. It stretches my faith to pray for people whom I can hardly imagine changing.
I pray daily for family members who have ruined their lives and the lives of others I love. And I find myself asking, "How could God straighten out the mess they have made?" I also pray for people with whom I fiercely disagree. I know I could not change their minds. Can God change their hearts or mine? I am often doubtful when I come to the names of some of these people. I have begun saying, "I am taking this person to You, Father. You can do anything."
This seems to be enough to ease the anxiety of my unbelief. The key to strengthening our faith is in recognizing the greatness and nearness of God. This prayer not only rests in His great power, but also on His ability to understand the complex problems people are facing. I do not necessarily believe this is strong faith, but focusing on God is certainly the step of faith I need in praying for difficult people and circumstances.
by A. B. Simpson
Once it was the blessing, Now it is the Lord;
Once it was the feeling, Now it is His Word.
Once His gifts I wanted, Now the Giver own;
Once I sought for healing, Now Himself alone.
Once 'twas painful trying, Now 'tis perfect trust;
Once a half salvation, Now the uttermost.
Once 'twas ceaseless holding, Now He holds me fast;
Once 'twas constant drifting, Now my anchor's cast.
Once 'twas busy planning, Now 'tis trustful prayer;
Once 'twas anxious caring, Now He has the care.
Once 'twas what I wanted, Now what Jesus says;
Once 'twas constant asking, Now 'tis ceaseless praise.
Once it was my working, His it hence shall be;
Once I tried to use Him, Now He uses me.
Once the power I wanted, Now the Mighty One;
Once for self I labored, Now for Him alone.
Once I hoped in Jesus, Now I know He's mine;
Once my lamps were dying, Now they brightly shine.
Once for death I waited, Now His coming hail;
And my hopes are anchored, Safe within the vail.
As Simpson describes; prayer can be transformative to the life of each Christian. We often can begin praying with a specific motive, but end up refocused in relationship with Jesus, and finish praying with an entirely different motive, desire, or outcome. He is that good to us and desires to meet us with that depth of intimacy!
Yet prayer, for many, is an afterthought in daily life. Few consider praying until hardship strikes, or a circumstance gets out of their control. It's only then that prayer becomes applicable or important in their lives.
Many are so lacking in practice that they struggle knowing how to pray, what to say, or how to approach God. Some are unaware of the many examples of prayer in Scripture- or that Scripture can help us focus on God (more than ourselves or circumstances) as we pray.
In our American church culture, prayer is largely a spectator event. Many churches treat prayer almost as an add-on in the service (a tradition that must be honored- at least for 1-3 minutes of a busy, tightly-packed, hour-long service/program/event), or at best, a specialized thing that only those who are "gifted in prayer" (there's no such thing as the spiritual gift of prayer) do in a small, separated room set apart from the rest of the hustling and bustling people in attendance. A pastor or elder may "say or offer a prayer" in front of the congregation, but seldom, if ever, are the church attendees invited to pray or practice prayer with or for one another. Is it any wonder that American Christianity is considered by many outside of the Church to be a toothless, weak, religion- and something that is just like every other religion or cult belief system in the world today? Have you seen a "Coexist" bumper sticker, with symbols of many popular religions (including the use of the cross as the T in the word) on a car recently? When you see that on a car, it essentially means, "Christianity is no different, more powerful, or life changing than any other belief system." What a lie and misconception!
But Christian prayer is vastly different than prayer of any other religion or cult. The difference comes from the People receiving and stirring the prayer within us- Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit (in case you're not aware; the Holy Spirit is a Person, not a thing; one of the Trinity- Father, Son, and Holy Spirit)! Jesus is the only Person who died to take the sins of everyone upon Himself; to set each person free from sin and eternal separation from God; and to lead them into a personal, intimate, relationship with Himself, the Father, and through the working of the Holy Spirit. It's by faith in Jesus; His work of living a perfect, sinless life; His death and taking the sins of all upon Himself; His resurrection from the dead; ascension into Heaven; and His upcoming return to establish His eternal kingdom, that we are saved. No other god or belief system can bring us into a personal relationship with the Savior of our souls! Only Jesus was given power (by God the Father) to rise from the dead, take away our sins which separate us from the Father, and establish us into a personal relationship with our Creator, Redeemer, Lord, and Savior.
But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. - Ephesians 2:4-10
Yet, many have no idea that they're being pursued by God. Some may, but reject God for one reason or another. Others are confused by the "white noise" of all the religions bantering about to add to their numbers and practitioners- and thus many discard God as they give up altogether in their confusion.
Is the Holy Spirit too weak to turn the heart of every person to faith in Jesus Christ? No. He could; but God has given each person a will. They can control it, make decisions, and choose to do whatever they please. The Holy Spirit won't force Himself, or Jesus Christ, upon anyone who refuses Him. He yields to their preferences and choices. Ultimately, they choose whether they'll humble themselves or harden their hearts toward God. The Holy Spirit patiently works and waits- even until the person's last breath of life on earth. But if at that time they continue to reject Him, their eternity will be spent in Hell; permanently separated from God- just the way they ultimately chose or wanted it.
As Christ-followers, we can quickly forget that we were once in that position ourselves.
As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our flesh and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature deserving of wrath. - Ephesians 2:1-3 (emphasis added)
A church surveyed members of its prayer team asking what kinds of things they regularly prayed for. Out of every 10 prayer requests or matters prayed for, 8 focused on personal events or requests (for things WE are doing, events WE are involved in, stuff WE are dealing with, etc). While no matter is too small or inconsequential to take to the Lord in prayer, if we look at this ratio, that means less than 2 out of 10 prayers are focused on praying for specific people to come to faith in Jesus Christ; for missionaries that God has sent and/or is using to spread the gospel to others; for personal or corporate revival in the Church; worship of God Himself, etc. Our prayers tend to be or become very self-centered if we're not watchful!
Praying for the Spiritually Blind to See
To help us focus outward, in alignment with the Spirit's work, and the salvation of others, we can begin doing these following things:
1. Pray. Ask God to bring to your mind 5-10 people who you know are without a personal relationship with Jesus, or who you're not sure if they have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.
2. Write. Write those names somewhere where they'll regularly remind you to pray.
I pray that the gospel would be presented to _________, not only with words, but also with power and with the Holy Spirit and deep conviction (1 Thessalonians 1:5).
As we pray for others, their lives and circumstances will change, and we'll also begin to fulfill Jesus' command in Matthew 6:20-21 But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
Prayer is a gift God has given us to bring us into deeper relationship with Himself, and also to bring others into relationship with Him as well. As we pray, our lives are changed- as are the lives of those we pray for.
If you begin praying specifically for someone using the Scriptures listed above, or other Scriptures the Lord leads you to pray, would you write to me about how God changes you, and/or a person you pray for as you've prayed? Stories of God changing lives (both within Christians and non-Christians) need to be told as encouragement to others. Share these stories with others you know- as a testimony of Jesus' work in your life and in the lives of others!
Lord, continue to teach us to pray.
* Scripture examples borrowed from Paths of Gold; Praying the Way to Christ for Lost Friends and Family, by Terry Gooding.
Have you had trouble maintaining focus in prayer? I often have that trouble. It is embarrassing to write it out like this, but it is still the truth. Every day I pray for God’s anointing to keep me focused as I go through prayer lists. It can be an even greater problem as I try to pray for one person or a single concern. I did something this week that helped a great deal. I walked my prayer.
Many of us understand the value of prayer-walking to pray for a street or neighborhood. But it also seems to help me focus on whatever I am praying for. Twice this week I walked through our neighborhood praying for a single loved one. As I walked I did pray briefly for houses and people I saw. But most of my prayer was for the person I was concerned about. In both cases I did not exactly know what to pray for. And I am not sure I knew better when I finished the walks, but I was overwhelmed with peace and joy as I concluded the prayer walks.
I have not heard anyone else give this benefit of prayer-walking. I would like to know if others of you have found walking helped you focus your prayers.
Patriot Praying or Kingdom Praying
Recently, I came across an article in the Connector, published by Intercessors for America. It was titled ‘A Warning from Macedonia’. Some of you, who have are on the Intercessors for America mailing list, may have seen it.
It raises an interesting question—are we trying to view control—possibly by encouraging adherence to our particular belief by a political candidate or party as the answer to our problems? That involves the thinking, that the solution we think is best—is what God wants.
There is a lot to think about in that statement. –Maybe we are asking God to fix our problems—when we should be asking for God’s presence and power to be demonstrated in the church. -- The real question here is does God just want to fix our problems—or does he want us to know Him?
Our country has great division in it. We are a people that may be too diverse in our thinking for our own good. The result of such thinking that does not focus on getting to know the Lord Jesus. What would happen if we were to focus on asking for God’s presence?
Rather than offer suggestions—I would like to open this discussion up to others. It you have experience the Lord’s presence—what change has it brought?
Maybe you differ with the focus that we should invite the presence of God. Tell us why.
Finally-what does it take to replace nationalistic type praying with God’s Kingdom Perspective.
I am not the only one who has had this experience. I was praying through a prayer list today and something distracted me. I continued to go down the list without my full attention. I regularly pray through a number of prayer lists. I have a list of movie people. I have a list of authors I ask God to work through. I pray for lost people God has brought into my life. I pray daily for a list of missionaries around the world. And it can be difficult to pray through these lists without distraction. I had gone some ways down the list today before I realized I was not focusing on my prayer.
Of course sometimes when I am distracted I need to pray about what is distracting me, changing the subject of the conversation, if you will. And I need to focus my mind on that until I pick back up where I was on the list. I also pray daily through several extended passages of scripture that I have memorized. I regularly find myself going through these without my mind fully focused on a passage. Prayer demands focus. You must focus on God and on the concerns you are lifting up to Him. I find I need to regularly stop and bring my prayers back into focus. I also regularly ask God to help me focus on what I am praying about.
Without a doubt, we live in the most distracted and unfocused generation in history. I was in a meeting recently and got rebuked by someone who caught me checking emails on my phone and sending text messages. “Pay attention!” she told me. “It’s disrespectful to be looking at your phone while people are talking.”
Things only got worse when I tried to explain to her that I was simply “multitasking.” Yes, I’ve gotten good at multitasking, which also may mean I’ve gotten good at being unfocused in my life.
Lately I’ve been thinking about a problem I had with my showerhead many years ago. The bathtub lever that was supposed to divert water to the showerhead became defective. So instead of the normal gush of water through the showerhead, there was only a trickle. The rest of the water went down the bathtub drain.
I had been in showers before that trickled because of poor water pressure, but never had I seen one that had such high water pressure and yet insufficient water actually going to the showerhead. For a while I tried to just live with the situation, but soon the problem got worse and I had no alternative but to get it fixed.
I’ve discovered that God can teach us vital lessons even in the mundane situations we encounter in life, and that was definitely true about the defective shower mechanism. I saw that my life too often has been characterized by plenty of “water pressure,” but with a lot of the water going down the drain instead of toward my main priorities and calling. Although the living waters of the Spirit were present in abundance, they weren’t properly directed toward God’s primary purposes for my life.
I see many people trying to handle their lack of focus same way I initially tried to deal with my shower problem. It has been so long since they’ve had a good “shower,” they consider their situation the “new normal” and simply try to adjust to lower expectations. Or perhaps they’ve given up on taking showers—i.e., given up on their true calling—and have resigned themselves to taking baths instead.
Rather than resign ourselves to low expectations or an unfocused life, maybe it’s time to get the shower mechanism fixed. Instead of adjusting to a diversion of our energy in the wrong directions, maybe it’s time to adjust to this sobering but encouraging fact: God’s purpose for our lives has never changed
This is exactly what Paul tells us Romans 11:29: “ Isn’t it time that we adjusted everything else to THAT?
But what if your showerhead mechanism has been defective for years? How can you regain your life’s focus once it’s been lost? Look at how The Message translates Romans 11:29: “God’s gifts and God’s call are under full warranty—never canceled, never rescinded.”
Isn’t that good news? Your calling is under “full warranty”—and that warranty can never be cancelled or rescinded!
If your energy, time, and resources are being diverted away from your true purpose in life, don’t tolerate the situation any longer. It is time to divert the full force of living water toward what God has truly called you to do.
You can’t afford to allow the precious water of the Spirit to go down the drain any longer. If you find your showerhead is merely dripping, you need to take urgent steps to re-divert the full force of water toward your true calling.