Childlike Qualities for Effective Prayer (Part 4)

Part 4 – Childlike Presumptuousness

Children are presumptuousness. They speak and ask as though no barriers or limits exist anywhere. We were all like that before life and experience beat that quality out of us. My brother and I grew up in a family with a stay-at-home Mom and a hard-working blue-collar Dad. There was never a great deal of money, but we had all the basics. We, like most kids, made huge demands and had great expectations when it came to Christmas and birthdays. Even to this day I cannot imagine how our parents managed to pull it off year after year. We asked “outlandishly” because in our own minds there were absolutely no limits.

Little prayers or big prayers? We need to learn to be presumptuous in prayer. Have you ever seen this bumper sticker? “God loves you, but don’t let it go to your head!” Most of us in the Christian family should not even consider that advice. In fact, we need to take the opposite stance. God loves you. You are his specially chosen and loved child, and that should go to your head. It should determine who you are, and how you are, and how you ask. It should infect every moment of your privileged relationship with God. It should impact every prayer you pray.
I go to the movies from time to time with a couple of friends. I love the ad that often comes on for the IMAX…. A movie is playing, and a great explosion rips across the screen. Then, the same scene plays on a laptop screen, with diminished visual impact and sound. Next, it plays again on a mobile phone… very small screen, very small sound. Then the slogan: Go BIG or Go Home. The IMAX screen explodes with a blinding flash, and shock-wave sound. Some movies are ONLY meant for the big screen. That needs to be a slogan for our prayer. Go Big or Go Home. We need to be outrageously presumptuous in our asking.

Scripture repeatedly tells us to Go Big. Ask “anything”; ask as “children” of the King; ask Abba (papa); ask whatever. Are we paupers or rich kids? When I was in seminary there was a young woman there who arrived with little or no cash for personal needs. Inevitably she would need some money, and pray: “Daddy, you own the cattle on a thousand hills (Ps. 50:10). It’s time for you to slaughter one of them and send the cash to your little girl!” Without fail, provision came. We put so many limits that God never requires on our asking.
I read an incredible story in Steve Brown’s book on prayer . During a social gathering, Cardinal Cushing was visiting those in attendance, and saw a five-year old boy. He approached and asked, “What is your name?” The young boy replied, with no sense of ceremony, “My name is Billy. What’s your name?” The Cardinal returned simply, “My name is Richard!”

A month later the Cardinal was celebrating a High Mass at the largest cathedral in Boston. After the service, as all the dignitaries were in the recessional, suddenly Billy stood up on his pew, and called out, “Hi Richard, it’s me Billy!” Can you imagine the humiliation felt by the parents? The Cardinal stopped, waved to Billy to join him, and hand-in-hand they resumed the recessional. Absolute presumptuousness. That is how we are to be with our Father in prayer.

God can do anything, you know—far more than you could ever imagine or guess or request in your wildest dreams! He does it not by pushing us around but by working within us, his Spirit deeply and gently within us. (Eph 3:20 Message)
“Ah, Sovereign LORD, you have made the heavens and the earth by your great power and outstretched arm. Nothing is too hard for you.” (Jer 32:17 NIVUS)

We are to ask with childlike presumptuousness. Go BIG or Go HOME! If Cardinal Cushing would stop and take notice of a five-year old, what do you think our Father will do when we ask BIG?

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Childlike Qualities for Effective Prayer

Part 3 – Childlike Trust
Young children are most often at risk, because they trust. Parents and life in general, teach them to NOT trust everyone. What a moment when I got pulled over on the highway for traveling faster than the posted speed limit. My son, like a little parrot in the back seat, kept saying: “Dad, we don’t trust people we don’t know except for doctors and policemen, because they’re nice!” I’m not sure how “nice” the policeman was, but the incident underlines the natural “trust” that children have.

The family was visiting friends at their cottage on the lake. It seemed like all of the relatives had turned up on the same Saturday. There was a diving board at the end of the quay. The older teenagers were having an amazing time launching themselves into the lake with assorted flips and flops. I made the mistake of telling them that when I was their ages I could do all sorts of dives and flips. The challenge was launched, and I prepared to offer the best I could muster – a mighty run, and super-human leap, and the most miserable fail. I had barely recovered, sputtering and spitting, when I heard a scream from shore. My five-year old, a non-swimmer, with no floaties, no life vest, was bounding down the quay toward the diving board. Without any hesitation, he leaped. After all, Dad was in the water to catch him. Childlike trust! “Lord, teach me trust like that!”

Our ability to trust rests on our knowledge of the character, and competence of the one to be trusted. I am a “dentist-o-phobe”. For the last 39 years, I have had the same dentist. He is the only one I trust inside my mouth. I know him, and he knows me. Obviously, this trust has grown through the years.

“Trust in him at all times, you people; pour out your hearts to him, for God is our refuge.” (Ps 62:8 NIV)

How do you feel about throwing yourself into the deep waters of life, trusting God to be there to catch you? How do you feel about trusting God, as Father. Far too many of us have come from dysfunctional families, but God is the ultimate Father, who asks us to trust where we cannot see, to obey where obedience is terrifying, to allow Him to be light in our darkness, and relief in our pain.

For the past few months I have been praying the Psalms. Most recently, I have become very attached to Psalm 13. It is so blatantly honest – questions, doubts, fears, but in the end a commitment to trust.

1 How long, LORD? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me?
2 How long must I wrestle with my thoughts and day after day have sorrow in my heart? How long will my enemy triumph over me?
3 Look on me and answer, LORD my God. Give light to my eyes, or I will sleep in death,
4 and my enemy will say, “I have overcome him,” and my foes will rejoice when I fall.
5 But I trust in your unfailing love; my heart rejoices in your salvation.
6 I will sing the LORD’s praise, for he has been good to me.” (Ps 13:1-6 NIVUS)

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Childlike Qualities for Effective Prayer (2)

Part 2- Childlike Helplessness

helplessOne of the childlike qualities that will make prayer effective is the recognition of our “helplessness”. Most of us have grown up in an environment which has taught us to be autonomous, and ruggedly self-sufficient. How many times have I heard myself say: “It is time to put on your big boy pants.”? The more I experience prayer, the more I begin to see just how little I control. I didn’t control where or when I was born, the parents I was allotted, or any of the circumstances which played a part in my becoming who I am today.

When my children were young they depended on me, and their mother, for everything: shelter, food, clothing, medicine, you name it. As life has gone on, and now my children are adults, I have had to relearn the lesson again. I had recently taught on our helplessness and God’s sufficiency in prayer, and was sharing prayer requests. As the words stumbled out of my mouth, I realized I was trying to be the savior in a setting where only God could move. I hate the feeling of helplessness. Admittedly, at times God will use us as a part of His solution. But it remains that we are most effective in prayer when we have come to the place of helplessness.

Lincoln said during the Civil War that he got on his knees in prayer, simply because there was nothing else he could do. Recently, along with yours truly, a few friends at Church have found themselves in situations where they would love to rescue their children, but we each have been confronted with our own helplessness.
Children don’t bring any power to the throne of God. We need to come as children recognizing our helplessness and His sufficiency. Scripture records how God spoke to Paul, and I can only assume that faced with his own absolute helplessness, he struggled with God’s declaration: “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness” (1 Cor. 12:9)

Yesterday I was faced with some devastating information from one of my children. I struggled and fought against my helplessness, and finally after a sleepless night, gave in. Only God… only God.
I can pray… when my child cannot, I can and will pray to the God who ALONE is sufficient. As I prayed this morning, God directed me to Psalm 142, which I prayed on my son’s behalf. I stand in the gap, knowing I am helpless, knowing the he is not in the place where he can pray for himself, and I pray this Psalm.

Why not try it yourself, immediately?

1 A [maskil] of David. When he was in the cave. A prayer. I cry aloud to the LORD; I lift up my voice to the LORD for mercy.
2 I pour out before him my complaint; before him I tell my trouble.
3 When my spirit grows faint within me, it is you who watch over my way. In the path where I walk people have hidden a snare for me.
4 Look and see, there is no one at my right hand; no one is concerned for me. I have no refuge; no one cares for my life.
5 I cry to you, LORD; I say, “You are my refuge, my portion in the land of the living.”
6 Listen to my cry, for I am in desperate need; rescue me from those who pursue me, for they are too strong for me.
7 Set me free from my prison, that I may praise your name. Then the righteous will gather about me because of your goodness to me.” (Ps 142:1-7 NIV)

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Childlike Qualities for Effective Prayer

Part 1- Introduction For several months now I have been studying and teaching about prayer. During this time, I have found that my prayer life has been refreshed, and revitalized. My consistent prayer has been: “Lord, teach me to pray!” … Continue reading

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Transfiguration

I was digging through my personal archives and found these words I wrote in 1996. They are as TRUE today as they were then.

I came – unwilling
An anguished victim of the demon, “Fear”.
I feared the loneliness,
the haunting memories,
my pain,
my shame,
Yet found Him there —
And loneliness transfigured becomes solitude.
And I no longer fear
the dark night of the soul,
For I will find Him there.

I came — unwilling
An anguished victim of the demon, “Fear”.
I feared the healing:
“For far too long I’ve lived with my infirmity,
It’s easier to limp than be made whole.”
Yet found Him there —
And infirmity transfigured becomes ministry.
For I would be a healer
in this wounded, broken world.
And He is there.

I came — unwilling
An anguished victim of the demon, “Fear”.
I feared, there would be no more hiding:
From God,
From self,
From friends.
He found me there,
and showed me love,
my self,
my sin.
His love transfigures and redeems me
No longer must I hide from those I love.
For He is here.

I go — unwilling:
For I would build three booths and tarry there
On this the mount of my transfiguration.
I hear you, Lord,
and I obey.
To the valley I return,
For there are others there
Who know not that their demons
Are undone,
And dissipate like shadows
In but one sweet, blessed encounter with the Son
For He is there.
For He is there.

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A Foolish Question? NOT!!!

As a coach, I am vitally aware of the fact that we are not always clear about what we really want. I have seen many conversations start out in one direction, then suddenly clarity comes, and the real subject show up. One of my favorite stories from the New Testament has Jesus responding to the cries of a blind man. He say: “What do you want me to do for you?” Could there be a more foolish question? Remember, “Assumption is the lowest form of knowledge!” Perhaps Jesus’ question was not so foolish after all.

Recently I was in a prayer meeting with our Church in Kahnawake. We went around the circle, each sharing a personal request, and praying one for another. As I knew beforehand how we were going to proceed during prayer time, my request was ready in my mind. Each shared, each was prayed for, then finally someone asked me what my request was. I started out with a rather bleak picture of my current cash flow, and shared my request. “I needed a part-time job, at a certain pay rate, with flexible hours”. The more I shared the less clear I became. Finally I blurted out: “I don’t really want or need a job! What I really want is for God to open a few new ministry doors for me.” I realized as I spoke that I was having some “trust issues” with God.

Now I know what I want. I’m glad I got to experience that “foolish” question from Jesus: “What do you want me to do for you?”

What do you want Jesus to do for you?

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Making Space for Your Soul

I remember the story of an adventurer in Africa who was on a long trek with a number of African bearers. The bearers were able to carry heavy burdens and travel for days with little need for physical rest. About 3 hours into the trek, the bearers set their loads down, and found a place to sit quietly in the shade. Somewhat surprised, the adventurer asked why the bearers had stopped so soon. The reply: “We’re waiting for our spirits to catch up to us!”

When was the last time you really stopped, disconnected completely from noise, busyness, and technology to allow your spirit to catch up?

Recently I’ve been reading: Sacred Rhythms, by Ruth Haley Barton. She wrsolitude-acceptanceites:

Most of us are not very good at sitting with longing and desire – our own or someone else’s. It feels tender. It feels vulnerable. It feels out of control. It is a place where one human being can fix or fill another, nor can we fix of fill ourselves. It is a place where only God will do.

As I prepare for the New Year unfolding before me, more than ever I am sensing that God wants desperately to spend time with me… undisturbed time. I’m planning a quiet retreat… no technology, no noise, no entertainment, no distractions. I’m excited. I’m terrified.

More to follow:….

PS: Thanks to Dominique Ourlin for suggesting this book.

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The Salvation Army comes to Kahnawake

SalArmyThe Salvation Army is coming to Kahnawake.

  • Not the band. Not the Christmas kettles.
  • Not the Thrift Store or Food Bank.

Retired officers, Lieut.-Colonels Gilbert and Marilyn St-Onge will be special guest at Kahnawake Pentecostal Church, this Family 002_editedSunday, August 31st at 10:30 am. Pastor Dave, also a retired officer, will attempt to fit into his uniform for the occasion.

Join us.

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KPC Honours Missionaries

kw logo3 Kahnawake Pentecostal Church is a little church with a big heart for missions. The congregation, in spite of its size, supports 3 missionaries (Joy Johnston, Paradisthe Lasantés, and the Paradis). On Sunday, April 27, we received Pierre and
Marielle Paradis. We listened with delight as they shared about their work.

As well as our regular giving to missions, we received a special  “love offering” for the Paradis. For our pastor, David McCann, the Shirthighlight was the purchase of an “African” shirt, emblazoned with Scripture texts in French and in English.

As is our custom, following the service we all went to a local restaurant for a communal meal with our guests.

It is amazing to think that our love for the Lord and His work can touch lives on the other side of the globe. How Great is Our God!

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New Covenant Principle for Giving – Video

I recently taught this material at Destiny Christian Church. For a link to the video, click below:

video

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