Awaken_Core Value #2

Post one in this series was about how and why Awaken will value and keep Jesus at the center of all we do.

Post two and the second core value of Prayer was also discussed at the first Gathering Event on the 11th of July (btw-another coming this weekend.  All invited, lunch will be served, and core value #3 will be discussed).  Prayer is such an interesting thing with so many varied responses to the topic.  Some people believe in it, others have never experienced God in prayer.  Some see it as a way to plead with God for what they want, others see it primarily as a way to shape their own character.  Some love it, some can’t sit still long enough to do it even if they wanted to. Bottom line, there’s a lot to said about prayer, and much has been written about prayer.

Here’s what we know at Awaken_

1.  We believe God is accessible to us in and through prayer.  The scriptures teach us that God makes Himself available to us and we can approach Him without fear but rather with confidence because of Jesus.  At Awaken, it’s really important for us to be the church IN OUR CONTEXT, and we believe the Spirit of God is at work in the world in all sorts of ways.  Prayer is one of the most important ways that we as a church will be in tune with heart of God.

2.  Prayer is as much about listening as it is about speaking.  Often prayer is seen as a means by which we/I make our requests known to God.  At Awaken we want to challenge that and say that prayer is as much about us quieting our hearts/minds enough to hear God speak, move, prompt his church.

3.  We expect God to meet us in prayer.  Furthermore, we expect to see God move through prayer.  Scripture says that we have not because we ask not.  Of course we know this is not a license to ask God for whatever you want and then expect that God HAS to give it because you asked for it.  Rather this is more about a posture and hearts position being one of expectation and anticipation.  It’s about having hearts in tune with the Jesus way, with the Kingdom, with the way things ought to be and ultimately it’s about deep faith and conviction that God wants those things too.

We closed our time with a time of silence and waiting, followed by each person being challenged to write their hopes/dreams/prayers for Awaken on a piece of paper.  As Ben (one of our resident musicians/artists) played quietly on his acoustic creating space for us, we listened to those prayers read aloud for the whole community.  For me, it was powerful!  To hear God’s Spirit at work in the hearts of this people that God is in the midst of creating was beautiful.  To see God weaving our hearts together with passions and hopes so that there is ONE heartbeat called Awaken which is in fact beating right with God’s for this community was inspiring to say the least.  You really ought to come to this next week if you missed the last Gathering Event.  Even if you’re not committed to Awaken, or just checking things out, or if you’re “all in”, please know there is a seat at the table for you.

1. Anyone have a story or experience with prayer they want to share?
2. Why do we find it so difficult to pray?
3. Has anyone felt an increase in appetite for prayer since we started praying more and talking about it more?

Join the discussion on the Awaken Facebook Page.

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4 thoughts on “Awaken_Core Value #2

  1. As I don’t have a facebook to participate there, I’ll leave my reaction here. The second point you listed really stuck out to me. I think that prayer in general intimidates people. There is a new pressure that surfaces because our words are directed to a much greater receptor. But, whether it’s due to our own self-focused nature or our focus on presenting ourselves in a good light, we focus almost entirely on our own words. But what you said stands true, prayer is as much about listening as it is about speaking. I know that I for one need to start making prayer less about me and more about God. If there is any opinion or answer that I value, it’s the Lord’s…but I often don’t listen long enough to hear it when I encounter him in prayer. Prayer is a state of being that we can create at any place and time, it is a place in which we can encounter the Lord…and I think we need to be there more often.

  2. Great insight Jess.

    “whether it’s due to our own self-focused nature or our focus on presenting ourselves in a good light, we focus almost entirely on our own words.”

    That stood out to me. I think everyone feels they elevate themselves to a higher level of existence when they can whip out some poetic religious talk…myself included.

    Here’s what I posted on the FB discussion page a few days ago:

    I’ve found it difficult to pray in instances throughout my life when I feel crippled with guilt. I’ve viewed prayer as the thing that breaks the glass ceiling between me and God.

    As far as recent experiences go, I’ve recently had a few extended times of stillness, deep breathing and openness has helped me break through the religious pretense or flowery language that I tend to use. That just makes prayer more of a chore than it has to be. I’m not one of those people that finds it easy to have daily, disciplined times of reflection. It has been much more spontaneous throughout my life.

    I have been finding an increased desire for genuine community. Prayer is at the center of that, I believe. To know and be known via dialogue with God. It re-centers my priorities. It calms my impatience and curbs my enthusiasm for self-destructive habits.

    Praying with the Awaken Community has been a highlight for me the last two weeks. Looking forward to more opportunities to know each other and tap into God’s heart more deeply.

    • I love the descriptor “dialogue” when in reference to prayer. Dialogue can’t be one-sided…so rather than considering dialogue and prayer to be two separate things, I think we need to start looking at them as synonymous.

      Taking that concept even further, when we think of the different instances in our lives that include dialogue (with friends, family, co-workers, etc.), we’re not completely focused on dressing our words in poetics and flowery embellishments…well, let’s be real…sometimes we are. But when we do that in daily conversation, we do it to impress. So are we trying to impress God with our words? Or are we praying to impress other people? In which case, we are essentially praying FOR other people, rather than praying FOR God.

      It’s like that kitschy little phrase that, even though it may be over-used, holds some pretty radical truth: there’s nothing you can do to make God love you more and there’s nothing you can do to make Him love you less. I think He finds more value in the open, raw, vulnerable dialogues than in the self-righteous prayers littered with religious terminology and theological jargon.

      Now, implementing that raw kind of dialogue into a community? That’s some beautifully radical talk right there. I love it.

      • “mah mama always told me”…that active listening means being open to being changed by whatever the other person has to say, instead of impatiently waiting for your turn to talk. Continuing the dialogue theme within prayer, I believe prayer is coming to the table open-handed to give as well as receieve. Often it becomes formulaic. We all have pet phrases that we go to when we’re on autopilot. What I want to learn more about is praying according to God’s will. That, I believe, takes active listening and ruthlessly eliminating the hurried pace of our thought-life. It’s what I’ve heard Micah call “hearing God’s song and finding what key he’s playing in.” Beautiful image.

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