How do I grow? Personal Practice
Friends, this week we will put the faith catalyst called “Personal Practice” into practice! Each of the five days is a prayer exercise. It’s so important to grasp what prayer is by practicing it. We’re thankful to have Jenn Krishnan prepared these guided prayers for you. Enjoy the time of prayer!
Day 1 – Psalm 40
Listen to Psalm 40 by U2
Read the passage:
I waited patiently for the Lord to help me,
and he turned to me and heard my cry.
2 He lifted me out of the pit of despair,
out of the mud and the mire.
He set my feet on solid ground
and steadied me as I walked along.
3 He has given me a new song to sing,
a hymn of praise to our God.
Many will see what he has done and be amazed.
They will put their trust in the Lord.
Take some deep breaths. Breathe in “Lord”, breathe out “I’m waiting on you”.
Imagine yourself standing in a place where your footing is precarious. Maybe it’s in a muddy part of a path where you are afraid of slipping or getting stuck. Maybe it’s a suspension bridge where you feel shaky when you walk. Or you are in a deep pit and can’t easily walk out. Maybe you are trying to stand up in a canoe or walk on thin ice. Or maybe it’s a different place. If you no place comes to you pray and ask Jesus to give you a picture.
Ask Jesus, what does this place represent for me? What in my life right now is making me feel stuck or in despair or unsteady. Listen for what He reveals to you about your circumstances and feelings. Don’t settle for a vague response like the fact that we are in a pandemic. What about the current pandemic is making you feel most unsteady?
Now, as you are in that place ask Jesus where he is in that situation. Where is Jesus and what is He doing? Is He saying anything to you?
Ask him to lift you up out of the shaky place you are standing and set your feet on solid ground. What happens? Where does he set you? What is the new place like and what might it represent for your circumstances? If you aren’t sure, pray and ask Jesus what it means.
Now in that new place, notice Jesus steadying you as you walk along. How does he steady you? How does it feel? Listen for anything He says to you as he walks alongside you steadying you.
Next, ask Jesus to give you a new song to sing. Maybe nothing in your circumstance has changed yet but ask for a song anyway. There was a time in Israel’s history where the army went out singing victory songs before the battle was fought. Does Jesus give you a victory song? Or a song of peace? Or maybe it’s a song of lamentation. Maybe a way to grieve something you have been avoiding. Or maybe a song of praise as Jesus draws your attention to eternal things and away from temporary troubles. If you don’t receive a new song today listen for it in the coming week. Perhaps it will take time for you to hear it.
Lastly the passage says “Many will see what he has done and be amazed”. Ask Jesus, who will see what you are doing in my life and be amazed? Who will put their trust in the you Jesus as a result of what you’ve done? If someone comes to mind take a moment to pray for them.
Thank Jesus for what you received today.
Day 2 – Mary Anointing Jesus
12 Then, six days before the Passover, Jesus came to Bethany, where Lazarus lived, whom he had raised from the dead. 2 So they prepared a dinner for Jesus there. Martha was serving, and Lazarus was among those present at the table with him. 3 Then Mary took three quarters of a pound of expensive aromatic oil from pure nard and anointed the feet of Jesus. She then wiped his feet dry with her hair. (Now the house was filled with the fragrance of the perfumed oil.)
Just quiet your mind and take some deep breaths. Inhale “Jesus…” Exhale, “I love you.”
Picture yourself in a room having dinner with Jesus. If it were today, who would be in the room with you? Is there someone like Lazarus who would be there? Someone who is a reminder to you of God’s blessing in your life? Someone who is a gift to you? Picture that person in the room.
Are there people in the room who wouldn’t understand your devotion to Jesus? People who might judge you or be embarrassed by an extravagant act of love towards Jesus? Maybe there are people who have criticized you in the past for your choices to follow Him. Become aware of these people in the room as well.
Ask Jesus who should be in the room. “Jesus who is in the room having dinner with us?”
**If you get distracted or lose focus, return to deep breaths: Inhale “Jesus…” Exhale, “I love you”
Now think about what you would like to pour out on Jesus today. Maybe you have words that you would like to say – if so, speak them in your heart or write them on your paper. Maybe you have something you want to give Him – either a physical thing like the perfume or an offering of time or money. Maybe it’s a new part of your heart that you want to give over to him today. A part that you have been holding back. Maybe it’s a posture – you want to kneel or stand and raise your hands or kiss his feet or wipe them with your hair. What kind of extravagant love do you have today to offer your Saviour?
Picture yourself in front of Jesus, offering to Him your demonstration of love and thankfulness.
Now visualize Jesus’ reaction. “Jesus how do you receive our gifts?” What is His posture as you offer Him your gift? What is His facial expression? Does He say anything back to you? Does He say anything to those looking on?
Receive Jesus’ reaction to your offering by responding to Him in whatever way you feel you need to.
Day 3 – Walk on Water
Read MATTHEW 14:22-32
Breathe in: “Jesus”.
Breathe out: “Take me deeper”.
Are you afraid? Excited? Curious? Try to figure out why you are feeling that emotion. What are you afraid of? What are you excited about? What are you curious about? Write down your feelings and why you feel them. Write down any questions you have.
As you continue to pray, here are a few statements and questions to help you pray:
- Hear Jesus say to you, “Take courage, it’s me.”
- Ask Jesus
- What step are you calling me into, Jesus?
- What are you calling me out of?
- What about the step makes you afraid? Express your fears to Jesus.
- Respond by saying to Jesus, “Jesus, save me from my fears.”
- Worship Jesus
Use this song – Goodness of God to focus on the Jesus who loves you.
Read: 2 Kings 4:1-7
1 The wife of a man from the company of the prophets cried out to Elisha, “Your servant my husband is dead, and you know that he revered the Lord. But now his creditor is coming to take my two boys as his slaves.”
2 Elisha replied to her, “How can I help you? Tell me, what do you have in your house?”
“Your servant has nothing there at all,” she said, “except a small jar of olive oil.”
3 Elisha said, “Go around and ask all your neighbors for empty jars. Don’t ask for just a few. 4 Then go inside and shut the door behind you and your sons. Pour oil into all the jars, and as each is filled, put it to one side.”
5 She left him and shut the door behind her and her sons. They brought the jars to her and she kept pouring. 6 When all the jars were full, she said to her son, “Bring me another one.”
But he replied, “There is not a jar left.” Then the oil stopped flowing.
7 She went and told the man of God, and he said, “Go, sell the oil and pay your debts. You and your sons can live on what is left.”
In this story notice how Elisha uses what she had in her house. She thought she had nothing – she almost didn’t even mention the oil. But the little oil she had was enough for a miracle. Whatever you have is enough to start a miracle, it is enough for God to multiply.
Breathe in: Lord, breathe out: renew me.
Imagine yourself in your kitchen. Jesus is there and he asks you to go to the cupboards and pull out some jars and pitchers. Pull out one for each of the categories we worked through earlier –energy, spirit, relationships with others and relationship with God.
Take the jar designated for your energy. How much oil is in that jar? Is it near full or half full or almost empty? Give it to Jesus. Does he add to it? Does he change it at all? How is he renewing your energy? Take notes, writing down anything He shows you.
Now find the jar called spirit. This jar represents where you are at emotionally. Give Jesus the jar and note what he does with it. Does he empty it before he fills it? Or does he add into what’s there? Ask him what he is putting into the jar? How is he renewing your spirit?
Now hand him the jar representing your relationships with others. Let Jesus bring to mind the relationships he wants to renew today. Write down whoever comes to mind. Which relationships does he want you to invest in? Are there any relationships he is asking you to take a break from or to put boundaries in? What relationships does he want to heal? Are there things he is taking out of the jar – habits or tendencies or ways of relating that are not good for you?
Lastly hand Jesus the jar for your relationship to him. What does Jesus do? Look at his face – what is he feeling about this jar? Listen to see if he says anything. Watch closely how he handles the jar and what he does. Does he fill it with something? Ask him what it is.
Are there any more jars to give to Jesus? If so, present them now and see what He does or says.
Now Thank Jesus for what he has given you.
Remember, back in the story about Elisha, that the woman had to go and ask her neighbours for jars. She was told to do this even before she had oil to fill them. This must have taken some faith and courage – to ask for jars that you don’t even seem to need. What would the neighbours think? Did they question her? How would she have explained why she needed jars? Was God testing her faith or was He generating an audience for His miracle? We don’t know but it’s clear that she had to ask for help and tell her neighbours something. Elisha could have asked God to just multiply the whole jar, as well as the oil but instead he asked her to involve her neighbours and friends.
Picture Jesus in your kitchen again and ask him if there is anyone with which you should share this filling. Maybe there are people he wants you to pour out onto. People onto which to pour out your energy or your calling or people with which to share your relationship with God. Who does Jesus want to experience this miracle of filling with you?
All the jars were full – then the oil stopped flowing. Why did it stop? It was enough. If it had kept pouring it would have made a mess on the floor. Too much oil is not actually a good thing. God often in scripture teaches us that he will give enough for now and not for the future – like manna in the desert. Why? Because it makes a mess in at least 3 ways. One, we begin to trust the provision and lose sight of the provider. Two, it goes sour because we have too much so we waste it on things that become idols. Three, if he provides it all at once then we don’t think we need to come back to him.
When Jesus stops pouring it is enough. Thank Him for giving you just what you need – no more (so that it won’t spoil) and no less.
Day 5 – Waiting
The season of Advent is just around the corner, starting at the end of November. It is the time of year when we anticipate and prepare for the arrival of Jesus. It’s never too early anticipate Jesus.
Mary was the first person to practice advent in history. She was told that Jesus was coming –being grown in her very own womb – 9 months before he would come. The news was both thrilling and frightening but mostly thrilling at first. She hurried to her Cousin Elizabeth’s place to congratulate her on her pregnancy and together they celebrated the incredible news of Mary’s calling. The Bible says Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit and cried out with a glad cry. Mary responded by bursting into song. It was an awesome day for both of them!
After that it wasn’t as awesome. Mary had to wait. And that’s when reality set in and things got frightening. She had to wait to see what people would say each time she told them that she was pregnant with the son of God. Would they believe her words or believe the worst about her? She had to wait while her husband decided whether he would divorce her or not. As she waited she had to bear all the usual pains and fears of pregnancy in an age before ultrasounds and prenatal visits. She must have wondered is the baby healthy? Am I eating enough? Am I eating the right things? Maybe she worried that she might somehow mess this whole thing up. The salvation of the world was hers to carry for these 9 months. What if, like many mothers at that time, she had a miscarriage or got sick or fell and lost the baby?
Think about how Mary would feel, waiting for so long for something that would change her life completely.
Think about your own life. Are there things you are waiting for? Is there something you are waiting for God to do? Is there something that you are waiting for to happen? Maybe you haven’t been visited by and angel but perhaps you are waiting for something that you have asked for. Are there dreams or callings or desires that you are waiting to be fulfilled? Maybe you are worried that you will mess it up and what you have asked for may never happen. Maybe you are waiting on behalf of someone else.
Ask yourself why are you waiting for that particular thing? How do you feel about waiting? Are you fearful, earnest, frustrated, excited, anxious or bored of waiting?
Now invite Jesus into the conversation. Imagine that you are writing the thing you are waiting for on the top of a box. Hand it to Jesus and ask Jesus if this is what you should be waiting for. Ask Jesus: what is He waiting for?
Imagine Jesus is with you, waiting. What is His posture? What is His facial expression? How does he want you to wait?
Jesus is patient in times of waiting. For Him waiting is not a waste of time. Jesus doesn’t really wait in the way that we do – instead he anticipates. He anticipates because He is not inactive during the waiting. He is busy, creating. While Mary was waiting for Jesus to come God was creating the saviour of the world inside her womb. Hear Him saying to you that waiting is not a waste of time. Picture Him putting things into your box – creating things and hiding them in your box. It is like a present at Christmas. We can’t see what is inside but when the waiting time is over we will open it and the contents will be revealed.
Ask Him what He is creating in you as you wait. Ask Him what He is anticipating.
Take some deep breaths. Breathe in: “I will anticipate you Jesus”, breathe out: “work in me as I wait”. Be encouraged by the Christmas story: Mary waited and then finally Jesus was born. Let the truth of His coming reaffirm your faith that He will come through on what He is doing in you.
Thank Him for what He is doing in your life while you wait.
I thought we could also think about what our church might be waiting for. Are there unfulfilled prayers or dreams for which we are yearning? Are there promises that haven’t come to be? Let’s take a minute and think about what The Well is waiting for.
Jesus what are you waiting for at The Well? What are you anticipating?
Jesus what are you birthing in our church as we wait?
Let’s pray into that now!