Prayer 101

Over and over again, the congregations of Brentwood Baptist and Kairos tell us that the prayer time in the service is one of the most important parts of the service. For some, it is the only time during the week that they slow down enough to talk to God. For others, they just don’t know what to do when they go to pray.

This episode is about how to start praying. I’ll talk about what I do, what I recommend, and then have a guided prayer time.

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Your Mission Field

I just got an email from Joey Lankford telling me he and his family are back in South Africa and readjusting to life there.  A few weeks ago we celebrated with Joey and his family here the success of their work with Living Way – the job training program of Living Hope.

Joey and his wife Courtney told their story again and again about how they – just a normal Middle Tennessee family – were called to go half way around the world to work with John Thomas and the Living Hope community.

One Thing at a Time

In case you haven’t noticed, I have ADD. Personally, I love having ADD. I find out a lot of things I wouldn’t have ordinarily discovered if I was as organized and focused as everyone else wishes I was.  There are, however, moments when my ADD works against me. Like when talking to my wife (note to husbands: don’t channel check while your wife is talking to you. It really makes them mad).

And sometimes, I’ll start too many projects at the same time, end up overwhelmed and then, in a desperate frustration, drop all of them. Needless to say, having stacks of half-done projects lying around you doesn’t help your confidence when the next project comes up. But here is a very important lesson I’ve learned.

Saying Yes Means No

As you can imagine, since publishing my book, The Gospel of Yes, I spend a lot of time talking about Yes.  Some have even wondered if I ever talk about No.

As a matter of fact, I do talk about No, and I talk about No a lot.

You can’t have one without the other.  You can’t have Up without Down.

You can’t have Left without Right.

And you can’t say Yes without saying No.

Make no mistake, when you say Yes to Christ, you say No to other things.

First, and probably most obviously, we say No to those things that are destructive.  God does have rules.  There are things we don’t do simply because God said, “Don’t do them”.  These things are destructive—they destroy our souls and even our physical lives.  Our parents hold similar values (“Don’t play in the street”).  When God says something is out of bounds, the rule is there to protect us.

Second, we say No to distractions.  The hard choices aren’t between good or bad, but between good and best.  I’m confident Satan wins some of his greatest victories by getting believers to do the merely good instead of best. Anything that takes me away from my ultimate and best Yes in Christ is refused and abandoned.

Lastly, we say No to things that diminish us or others.  You can always tell authentic love because the beloved becomes more—more alive, more themselves—more!    Inauthentic love causes the other to shrivel, to contract and whither.  As Christ fills our lives, our capacity to love grows. Our compassion increases, our ability to reach out to others expands.  We become more.

We live in a world—both religious and secular—that wants to categorize everyone and everything… then place us in the appropriate box.

Jesus wouldn’t be boxed in.  He won’t let His followers be hemmed in either.

Saying Yes does involve saying No.  But when you live for your Yes, the No provides the guardrails to focus your energy in the same way the banks of a river give the river its power.

What about you?  When you said Yes, what did you say No to?