Figuring out how to pray…

Last week we asked this main question (in case you missed it). When 2030 rolls around, what will your decade look like? Will you have accomplished what you hoped for, impacted what you prayed for, changed what you were passionate about, become more of the person God designed you to be?

So much pressure??? Not sure I can handle it.

If any of the things you plan or dream for will ever happen, it will be because we decided on doing the daily, weekly, monthly, and even yearly things, regularly and routinely, to get us to those goals, dreams or hopes.

Some of us are afraid of routine – either because it’s hard to be disciplined or because it feels boring to not be spontaneous. But if we don’t do certain things all the time, over and over again, we will never see the progress, success, growth, or trajectory we are striving for. Sounds like self help stuff, but it’s not. Think about it in relation to these things…
– Relationships/Marriage
– Work/Vocation
– Craft (i.e. music, art, building)
– Mission/Impact

– – – – – – –

When it comes to our faith journey, what is the one thing we must, and can do, to grow as a follower of Jesus?


It’s not an action like serving or loving others, which is of course very important.
instead, it’s a discipline, a practice, something beneath the surface that enables you to be who you are and act the way you do, above the surface.

What is prayer? (conversation/time with God)
Why do we pray? (develops our faith, heart, and life)
How do we pray? Hmmmmm

In Luke’s gospel, chapter 11, we read a number of things about prayer: The Lord’s prayer, a parable on prayer, the persistent nature of prayer, and God’s fatherly heart towards us through prayer.

Let’s walk through it so you can see what exactly it says…

Luke 11:2-11

“When you pray, say: “‘Father, hallowed be your name,
your kingdom come.
Give us each day our daily bread.
Forgive us our sins, for we also forgive everyone who sins against us.
And lead us not into temptation.’”
– – – – – –
Then Jesus said to them, “Suppose you have a friend, and you go to him at midnight and say, ‘Friend, lend me three loaves of bread; a friend of mine on a journey has come to me, and I have no food to offer him.’ And suppose the one inside answers, ‘Don’t bother me. The door is already locked, and my children and I are in bed. I can’t get up and give you anything.’ I tell you, even though he will not get up and give you the bread because of friendship, yet because of your shameless audacity he will surely get up and give you as much as you need.
– – – – – –
“So I say to you: Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.
– – – – – –
“Which of you fathers, if your son asks for a fish, will give him a snake instead? Or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!”

The Lord’s prayer is of course the guide, the manual if you will. It’s Jesus’ best example and our best model for prayer.
Jesus uses this prayer to give us structure, reliability, liturgy, together giving us words to use and a formula to emulate.
When you know what to say, use the Lord’s prayer as a guide.
When you don’t know what to say, use the Lord’s prayer as your content.

The parable is about a friend who comes to your house at night begging for food. As interesting and unique of a story as it is, Jesus uses it to tell us never to give up…to be persistent…he understands how much we desire the things that we pray for, especially when what we desire is what we actually need. Jesus gets it. God gets it.

Then Jesus reminds us that prayer is about asking, seeking, and knocking. God will give, you will find, the door will be open.

And finally, Jesus compares God’s answers and gifts to our earthly parent’s gifts. If we, who are flawed, broken, often selfish, manage to give good gifts to our kids, how much more will God, who we pray to, give good gifts to us?

That in a nutshell is Luke 11. So much there right?

But how does this chapter start? That’s what intrigues me today. Why does Jesus get into all the things we read in verses 2-13?

One day Jesus was praying in a certain place. When he finished, one of his disciples said to him, “Lord, teach us to pray, just as John taught his disciples.”

Jesus taught by example. He didn’t just say ‘pray’. He showed us by words and actions.

Jesus was praying in a certain place. A location. A space he dedicated for prayer.

Jesus prayed for an allotted period of time. He started and finished.

His disciples are so intrigued by this, by him, and they ask him: Can you teach us how to pray? Can you help us figure this whole praying thing out?

From that short verse and short exchange, we get the rest of Luke 11. Amazing.

– – – – – –

A few things about figuring out prayer. Some inspired from what we read, and some from other observations.

To be human is to pray…

“Prayer is our humble answer to the inconceivable surprise of living.”

Life throws you surprises, and lemons, and difficulties. Prayer is us admitting that we need help to navigate through it all

One writer, while noting that the latin word for prayer, “precarius” concludes that we pray because life is precarious….risky, unstable, marvellous, yet uncertain.

Think about the many things that lead us to prayer?

Now…think about when we ask those going through some kind of difficulty, if they’re spiritual or not, following Jesus or not, will probably say, “absolutely…you can prayer for us” or maybe a little more subtle “sure, that would be nice”.

I’ve heard this many times, “I had no where else to go, so I prayed.”

David Grohl form the Foo Fighters, when his drummer overdosed at a festival in England admits to desperately praying for him. He said, “I’d talk to God out loud as I was walking…I’m not a religious person, but I was out of my mind, so confused, frightened, and heartbroken.”

Elisabeth Gilbert, in her famous book, Eat, Pray, Love, writes, “Hello, God. How are you? I’m Liz. It’s nice to meet you…I haven’t spoken directly to you before…Can you please help me? I am in desperate need of help. I don’t know what to do.”

There is something inside of us that just cries out when we have nowhere else to turn. And if we believe it fully or not, we feel like the person who is listening on the other end is God, or at least someone or something much more powerful for than us, and because of that we find ourselves praying. A Canadian Psychologist, David G. Benner, once said that prayer is our native language. I tend to agree.

Praying is more human than humans even realize.

It’s biblical to pray…

Moses prayed. King David Prayer. The prophets prayed. Paul Prayed. Jesus prayed. Over and over again, men and women in the narrative of scripture find them selves praying…on their knees, in a jail, on a hill, in a pit, at table full of food, in poverty when food is scarce. Prayer is everywhere in the scripture.

Too many verses to quote.

The Bible affirms in us our inner human desire to be heard by God, to hear God – to talk to God and to listen to God.

Prayer happens in two places: Everywhere & Somewhere.

Two words in 1 Thessalonians 5:17 tell us that prayer can happen everywhere. It’s there that Paul says, ‘Pray continually’ (pray with out ceasing). And if you actually do this, you know that you can’t continually pray in the same place…it’s impossible.

This should be both encouraging and challenging:
– Encouraging…because I literally pray anywhere.
– Challenging…because there’s actually no reason not to pray.

However, being able to pray everywhere is not an excuse to not pick a place or a space to pray.

Genesis 28:16 says, Surely the Lord is in this place and I knew it not…

Jesus says in Mark 1:35, Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed.

And in Luke 11:1 we read, One day Jesus was praying in a certain place.

(Also check out Luke 6:12 & 9:28)

Think about all the things packed into Luke 11…

Where does it start?

Jesus praying in a ‘certain place’.

If anybody could’ve prayed anywhere and every where, it was Jesus, but even he went to ‘certain’ places to pray.

Richard Foster says, “…find a place of focus – a loft, a garden, a spare room, an attic, even a designated chair – somewhere away from the routine of life, out of the path of distractions. Allow this spot to become a sacred ‘tent of meeting’ for you and God’.

Think about this…For prayer to happen everywhere, it has to start happening somewhere.

Place matters. A sacred space. It’s not sacred in it’s own right, but becomes sacred because of what happens in that space.


Find your space, your ‘certain place’, and begin to build a pattern of prayer in your life. You won’t regret it. I can guarantee you that in 10 years you’ll back and know that prayer was one of the things, if not the main thing, for getting you were you are and where you will be, but more importantly, where and who God wants you to be.

In Ten Years…

As we move into 2020…
A new year and decade…
What is God asking us to do?
In response to God’s call…
What must I leave behind?
What must I strip back to the true core?
What must I hold on to?
What new thing must I embrace?
What fear must I face?
What risk must I take?
What must I commit to daily, weekly, monthly, to arrive at God’s and my desired end?
God lead me, these days, for what you want to accomplish in the next 10 years.

– – – – – – –

I discovered a new artist this year. His name is Simon Beck. He describes himself as a snow artist. That’s right – a snow artist.

Being a snow artist doesn’t mean he makes snow angels all day long. No, that would be the extent of my snow art.

He looks for large snow canvas’s and works his magic.

Image result for simon beck snow art
Image result for simon beck snow artImage result for simon beck snow art

He has 300 pieces to date, some in the sand as well.

This got me thinking…

  • How long does it take him to complete one?
  • How much thought and planning go into this?
  • What kind of patience is needed to start these pieces, and then push through until the end?
  • Think about what they look like at the beginning? Not much I’m assuming.
  • And how long until someone like me sees progress and the art starts to take shape?

I’m like a kid when watching something like this. I’m the same when work is getting done in my home…or any kind of construction site. Intrigued, curious, enjoying the process and progress, and once in a while wishing there was more to see, more aspects of the job complete. And when it’s all done, I’m always amazed at the vision and planning behind the job – the ability to see a project come together from beginning to end.

This quote may capture what I’m thinking…

“He who works with his hands is a labouror. He who works with his hands and his head is a craftsman. He works with his hands and his head and his heart is an artist.”

I wonder if we have the patience to see our lives in this manner? And if we have the discipline to plan, pray, strategize, and slowly but surely craft our lives, our relationships, our impact, our plans, together in this way? Look ahead to what can be, and slowly plod our way there.

We are WORKs of ART.
We are also WORKs in PROGRESS.

– – – – – –

How do we apply this to, not only a new year, a new season, but a new decade, with all the possibilities and potential that it holds?

We should take these ‘crossing points’ in our lives to plan, budget, dream, strategize, etc. But how much more important is this moment as we look at a whole other decade to live out our dreams, God’s plans, our hopes, God’s desires, all wrapped up together?

I felt we should walk through just a few scriptures today – ones that I believe are connected in some way, but will also connect the dots for us as we place our lives, our year, our decade, in the very loving and capable hands of God.

(Take note on how the words are separated. This is intentional. I’d like you to read the verse by thinking about each phrase on it’s own and then how it connects to what line comes next and what line came before it. FYI: this is a good way to meditate and reflect on scripture.)

Ephesians 2:10
We are God’s
In Christ Jesus
To do good works
Which God prepared in advanced for us to do

We are God’s art work. God’s work of art. This is how he views us. Do we see ourselves in this way? Do we live in this truth? Do we act and do and serve and work and love with this in mind?

With that thought in mind, even though we are God’s work of art, we are still a work in progress – we are His work in progress!!!

Philippians 1:6
Be confident of this
He who began
A good work
In you
Will be faithful
To complete it

We need to know this at every stage of the game…every season and stage of our life – as kids, teens, young adults, adults, married, single, parents, not parents, seniors, elderly – ALL seasons.

God started something good in you. He won’t give up on you or the work he’s doing in and through you.

We are partnering with God in becoming who he wants us to be, so we need to play our part in this good work he is doing in and through us.

Psalm 90:12
Teach us
To number our days
That we may gain a heart of wisdom

What does it mean to number our days?

To plan them well.
To understand the significance of a moment, of a season, of the time we have and the time we’ve already lost.
– Today, tomorrow, this month, this year, this decade, our whole life.
We are smarter when we do this!!!
– Unwise people don’t think about their days at all, they let them slip through their fingers.

Perhaps you’ve had these thoughts: I don’t want Monday to arrive? I’d rather let this day pass in hopes that tomorrow is better? You want me to number my days? Take them seriously? Plan well for them? Take them on? Each one of them, like they mean something? YES!

Psalm 90:17
May the favour of the Lord our God rest on us
Establish the work of our hands
Establish the work of our hands

David doesn’t say, establish the work of ‘your’ hands, but of ‘our’ hands. Our work. Our planning. Our sweat. Our labour. IN CONNECTION with GOD’s work, God’s heart, God’s plans, God’s vision for us and this world.

– – – – – –

As we look at the next 10 years, and we begin to work towards the ART God calls us to create and make, what will we do to get there – to accomplish our/his goals, in and through us?

In 10 years, what do you want your…
– Relationships to look like
– Finances to look like
– Parenting to look like
– Work/Career/Vocation to look like
– Neighbourhood to look like
– Spiritual formation to look like
– The Village to look like




Think about Simon Beck’s SNOW ART. Think about how beautiful and grand it looks. Now think about this: as big and beautiful as it is, it takes a step at a time to get there. Simon started with one step, then another, then another. But not just any kind of step, a well planned and thought out step, one that he knew would get him to his desired end.

What steps will you take – daily, weekly, monthly, yearly, to get to where God wants you in the next ten years. You can do it. The good work God has started in you is far from over. Keep moving forward. So, God willing, when we get to 2030, you’ll look back and be able to say, “Look what God did in and through me these last ten years.”

Breathe in & out

One of the most important things we can do post Christmas is…

…to ensure we get our garbage & recycling sorted out.

How happy was I to see that my street’s garbage collection would not be affected by the holidays.

However, that morning, I woke up to…hearing…you guessed it…the garbage truck only a few houses away from  mine… (I woke up later than I intended:)

What was not going to happen that day?
The recycling, compost and garbage was not staying in my house…it had to be gone.
What did I do…? I used my the bottom of neighbour’s driveways to put out my garbage and compost. Note that I’ve pre-asked some of them in case this ever happens. So we’re good.

This is a weekly rhythm for all of us…
– Buy groceries / Consume food
– Collect the remains and bring it to the curb

Some times it’s the opposite…we take things out, to make room for something new to enter our home.

– – – – – – –

Life, at it’s basic level is breathing in and breathing out.
(Remember the Karate kid: wax on, wax off, breathe in, breathe out)

This New Year I wasn’t pulled in or attracted to resolutions or lists or goals…but this simple idea:

Breathe in what you want. Breathe out what you don’t.

Kathy Escobar says it this way, “Take in what we need and let go of what we don’t”

If you follow The Village on social media, you would’ve seen this image pop up on New Year’s day…

Breath in Peace               Breathe out  Anxiety
Breath in Hope                Breathe out  Despair
Breath in Courage           Breathe out  Fear
Breath in Mercy               Breathe out  Unforgiveness
Breath in Peace               Breathe out  Division
Breath in Rest                 Breathe out  Hurry
Breath in Jesus

These words from Isaiah will help us here…(43:18-19)
Forget the former things;
    do not dwell on the past.
See, I am doing a new thing!
    Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?
I am making a way in the wilderness
    and streams in the wasteland…

Forget the former things…
– Let go of 2019
– Not like it didn’t happen, but don’t let it hold you down or hold you back
– What pain or fight or hurt or conflict, may have helped you grow, but now is time to say goodbye to it? Is it  occupying too much space in your mind and heart?
– open your eyes to God’s newness
I am doing a new thing (what is it? ask God?)
I am making a way in the wilderness
– verses 16-17 speak to this as God reminds Israel about their deliverance from Egypt)
And streams in a wasteland
– 2020 won’t be perfect, but God will lead you through whatever comes your way.

None of this newness can happen to us when we’re in a hurry.

For us to breathe in God’s newness, we need to stop, think, pray, be quiet, and hear from him about what that newness actually is!

Slow Down
Be Quiet

Listen to the first words of Psalm 23…
The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing.
He makes me lie down in green pastures,
he leads me beside quiet waters,
he refreshes my soul…

I love what David does here. He tells us that we must ‘lie down’, and we must be ‘led to quiet waters’, and when we do that, our ‘souls can be refreshed’.

Listen now to Psalm 46:10
Be Still and know that I am God

The word still comes from the word vacate. So maybe God is telling us to take a vacation from trying to be god, and let him be God instead?

Finally, the word Selah, that pops up 71 times in the Psalms – this is a ‘middle’ word or an ‘in between’ word between verses and phrases in the Psalms. No one knows for sure what it means. It’s possibly just a technical note for readers and musicians.

Best guess? Selah is an invitation to pause, to weigh the words we are praying. An intermission, if you will. A moment to reflect on what just happen, and plan well for what we may hear next or what may come next.

Augustine said, “You have made us for yourself, Lord, and our hearts are restless until they rest in you.”

Pascal said, “All of humanity’s problems stem from our inability to sit quietly in a room alone.”

Only when we pause, when we rest, when we Selah, when we are quiet…is when we can Breathe in Jesus!!!

– – – – – –

Why do we call Sundays an Intermission at The Village? Because our hope is that in the few minutes we have together, we want to breathe out the week before, and breathe in Jesus! Time well spent eh?

– – – – – –

This week, take time, make time, to…

Breath in Peace               Breathe out  Anxiety
Breath in Hope                Breathe out  Despair
Breath in Courage           Breathe out  Fear
Breath in Mercy               Breathe out  Unforgiveness
Breath in Peace               Breathe out  Division
Breath in Rest                 Breathe out  Hurry
Breath in Jesus