Prayer is not......

We’ve been thinking about a prayer at Restored. This week we looked at Matthew 6 and came up with a list of things that prayer is not. Hope this helps and encourages you:

  1. Prayer is not manipulating God to get Him to do what I want - seeking to say to God ‘I’ve been a good person, you should really answer my prayer as I think you should’

  2. Prayer is not Influencing God to get Him to do what I want - ‘I think this is the best idea God’ -

  3. Prayer is not bargaining with God to get Him to do what I want - the is a form of manipulation -

  4. Prayer is not an obligation - a responsibility to be fulfilled - prayer is a gift

  5. Prayer is not simply speaking in our heads, hoping some force or deity might hear us - God hears and answers prayers

  6. Prayer is not a performance based reward - I pray and then God gives what I ask

  7. Prayer is not standing out from the crowd so God hears us

  8. Prayer is not about luck - fortune that God hears us and answers us that day - bit like winning the lottery -

  9. Prayer is not worrying in God’s direction - speaking to God as though He can’t and won’t answer us - worrying is me putting the burden on my shoulders - prayer is me giving God that burden

We make prayer more complicated than it should be......

A few years ago my wife, Beckey lost her engagement ring. She was so upset. We searched everywhere to try and find it. But no matter where we looked, we couldn’t find it. So we did what we should have done right away: we prayed about it.

That night I had a clear dream and you need to understand I hardly ever remember my dreams. I dreamed the location of the ring. It was so clear! The next morning I came and looked in the place I saw in my dream and there it was. How do I explain that? God hears and answers our prayers.  

We need to know what prayer is 

  • It’s not impressing - bargaining - wishful thinking - right combination of words 

  • Prayer is faith expressed 

  • Prayer is relationship expressed 

  • God hears and answers our prayers

If we know God hears and answers prayer and if that truth is widely accepted:

  • Why do so many of us struggle with prayer?

  • If I asked you to evaluate - do you think your prayer life is all that you hoped it would be - would you say yes? 

  • Do you feel that your prayer life is all you would like it to be or that your prayer life adequately reflects your faith and relationship with God?

  • I know I have felt a conviction that my prayers are repetitious, non-specific, not fully communicating what I believe my relationship with Jesus is all about – 

  • I am a Christian but I struggle wanting to pray more regularly and pray more deeply

Here are some basic truths about prayer:

God hears and answers our prayers 

  • II Chronicles 7: 14 if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land

Prayer is simply an expression of your faith. Talking to the God of the universe who loves you.

Church words: Faith - Faith defined

Church words - faith: So often in church’s we use our own unique words - faith is one of those.  

My hope for this series is that we can define faith so we can experience faith. 

1: Faith has confidence.

Hebrews 11:1  Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.”

  • Faith is the vehicle that connects us to God

  • Thats what the confidence in this verse is referring to. 

  • Confidence leading to hope - God is in control & God has a plan 

    • What we hoped for: to wait with confidence, to trust with hope and expectation. Faith has substance – faith is specific.

  • Assurance - means a trust

    • Assurance: What can be believed – what can be trusted the substance of our faith. The foundation of our faith; the ‘bucket’ that contains our faith.

Faith is not:

  • You or I simply hoping - it’s not like those Hallmark movies where one person hopes the person they like, likes them and it tase the whole movie to resolve that  

  • Faith is not simply ‘believing therefore its real’ - I can believe I should have played professional soccer but I wasn’t good enough 

    • Think about this - Lies are lies even if everyone believes them - the truth is the truth even if no one believes it 

But understand this: It’s not faith that’s all powerful - it’s the object of your faith that’s so important 

Faith as a bicycle illustration. 

  • Imagine this scene 

  • You are the parent of a young child 

  • You are teaching your child to ride a bike 

  • You spend ages holding the back of the saddle and giving germ confidence 

  • Then one day they do it - they ride their bike by themselves 

  • As they come back to you with a massive smile and jump off their bike to hug you

  • You push them aside and hug the bike 

  • Bike is the vehicle that helps your kid learn  

  • Faith itself isn’t what we are focused on 

  • To grow in faith we look to the object - the substance of our faith 

Here’s a helpful summary so far: Faith is confident belief in God.

  • So we’ve defined what faith is; now let’s develop this a little and talk about what the substance, the focus of faith should be.

You see you may have thought I was downplaying the role from faith - Confident Faith is vital but so also is the object of our faith substance.

  • The right focus 

2: Faith has substance.

  • Hebrew 11:6And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him”.

  • Without faith we can’t please God – 

    • Meaning can’t be acceptable, in relationship with God without faith. 

    • Faith is the vehicle that connects us to trust in God.

  • Faith is not some sentiment – some whim – some romantic fantasy – it’s not some fairy tale.

    • God isn’t somehow affirmed by how we respond, God isn’t some insecure weak god who needs us, 

    • God delights in our faith because it gets Him involved in our life.

  • Faith has substance, faith has content.

    • You see faith isn’t some pie in the sky hope – 

    • Like I hope this guy likes me, even though he doesn’t know my name – 

    • That’s wishful thinking without substance. 

Faith has substance and this key verse gives us that substance - Look at the substance of faith:

  • You have to believe that He is 

  • What the Bible says about Him – 

    • Jesus came to this earth proved Himself God - died and rose again 

    • Faith believes that He rewards those who seek after Him.

Our working definition: “Faith is confident belief focused on God, trusting and obeying Him no matter how I feel

So my takeaway for you today is simply this - Is this working definition something you would honestly say describes your faith?

Faith title slide JPEG.jpg

Worry and faith : The challenge

Worry and faith : The challenge As I said in my last blog I can write about the issue of worry because this is a matter I have wrestled a lot with. Here’s an example: A number of years ago I was flying on an airplane between United States and England. I had flown many times before but this time was different. During the flight there was some minor turbulence and I felt this deep sense of worry and anxiety. The anxiety got to the point where I felt I couldn't move and felt paralyzed with worry. I started to think about what would happen if this plane crashed. Have you ever experienced worry to the point where it impacts your life? If you have experienced that kind of worry I pray this series will encourage you.

I grew up in a family where worry seemed common place. I watched my family worry about all kinds of things. Money was tight, relationships were hard sometimes, and life can just be busy and burdensome. I began to think about our faith in Christ. I began to think about how powerful and great God is and I wondered why do we worry so much?

As I thought about the worry that I've experienced and the peace that God promises some questions came to me:

  • Where is my faith when I worry ? 

  • Why do some people struggle with worry and others don't seem bothered even in tough situations?

  • Does my faith really impact my every day life?

This series is about me sharing what challenges I've experienced with worry and what I've learned from Christ. I would like to build this series around my most favorite section of Scripture on the subject of worry. “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:6-7 ESV. 

As we take some time to understand and apply these truths I would like to think about one key term. That term is superintending. Superintending means to watch over, to care for and to be in loving control over our lives.  I would like to ask you to start thinking about how God is superintending our lives. 

Let me close this week with a quote - "You should not begin to pray for all you want until you realize that in God you have all you need" (Augustine). 


Faith and Worry - Like birds on a beach


Do you wrestle with worry? You know the feeling in the pit of your stomach or the ache in your head? You feel the weight of what is causing you to stress in pressing in on you. Well I pray you will be helped by the next few blogs. I am not an expert on much but I am a gifted and skilled worrier. I pray God helps you in the coming days. 

I was sitting on the beach at Siesta Key, Florida a while ago. As I sat there I noticed an interesting sight. I saw many birds looking for food by poking their beaks into the sand. They had so much energy and worked so hard to satisfy their appetites. I searched on Google and found out the name of this particular bird. It is a 'sanderling'. 

What struck me about this particular bird was how territorial the birds were with each other. As energetic as they were in looking for food they were even more energetic in protecting their space. It was almost as though they shouted "This is my space" as they peck and scream at each other fighting over turf. Wings were flapping as the birds were screeching as they fought for their space to search for food. It was as if their lives depended on it. 

I just sat and watched the dominant and the defeated take their place in this society. Then something even more powerful took place. The tide turned. The waves came up the beach further and further. The turf that these birds had fought so hard to protect and dominate was gone under a fresh film of seawater. These birds then had to move onto new areas only for the tide to trump their efforts over and over. It all seemed so worthless. So much effort for such little reward. 

As I sat and watched I wondered if I was like these sanderlings that day. I strive and worry about things in my life. I get stressed by being late. I worry about my family. I worry about too many things. But what is the point of worry? Worry is as futile as a sanderling protecting a piece of beach which is about to be covered in ocean. Maybe that’s one of the reasons God blessed us with these amazing verses - do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:6-7). 

Do you stress and worry? Do you see how little worry achieves?  Especially when you begin to understand that God is like the ocean on the beach. He is Sovereign and has all power to overcome all situation and circumstances. When we stress and worry we are like birds fighting for the beach that is about to be covered in water.  Worrying doesn’t help us or move us forward. God offers us help to turn to Him in faith. Worrying doesn't change anything but faith changes everything. I pray in the coming blogs God encourages your faith as you look to Him. 

Grief and faith: Seeking a new normal


As we continue to look at grief and faith I want to offer you some hope that a new normal will come. It may take weeks, months or even years. Everyone is different and every situation is unique. Grief should never be evaluated by the time it takes to pass through the stages. 

I am a strong believer that you never really get over grief, in the sense that you get back to the way life used to be. The loss of a loved one will be ever present. Let me encourage you with this: you will learn to adapt to live life with the new reality of grief in your life.  You will get to a place where you will be able to function again. You will get to the place where you can get groceries or watch a TV show. A new normal doesn’t mean you won’t have times that you weep deeply, it doesn’t mean that you have in any way forgotten the one who is no longer with you. It does mean God will help carry you to a different place. A place where you will learn to adapt to grief being with you but not overpowering you, at least not all the time. 

Be patient as you wait for this day with a new normal to come. As I said, every person is different and every situation unique. Grief is never the same for any two people whose loved one is no longer here . 

As you pray and ask God to help you find that new normal let me encourage you with the truth that God is ever present.  

  • God is our Heavenly Father and when you walk through suffering He promises to be closer than anyone ever could be to you - Psalm 23:4 “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me

  • He draws near to you as one who knows suffering - remember He watched as His Son died for you

  • He will never leave us. Deuteronomy 31:6 - Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.”

  • He stores your tears in a bottle. Psalm 56:8 

  • Peace that passes all possible understanding. Philippians 4:6-7

Can I encourage you today with this: God wants to help carry and comfort you. Don’t turn from Him but turn to Him. He can handle your questions, your emotions, your doubts, your pain, your anger and your grief. As always if I can help please let me know.