Tag Archive | Learning

Learning About Prayer

I am the leader of prayer ministries for a large and growing ministry for ladies with chronic illness. I am currently leading a prayer study for the Sunday school class my husband and I attend. So prayer is important to me. But I do not consider myself an expert in prayer. As my responsibilities in the area of ministering to others in the area of prayer have increased, the knowledge that I still have a lot to learn has become foremost in my mind.  I am a learner in the area of prayer.

I shared in a recent article that my husband and I have been walking through some difficult circumstances in our lives. I don’t want to go into the details again, so I’ll share the link for anyone who is interested in this story.        https://readywriterbr.wordpress.com/2017/07/15/living-outside-my-comfort-zone/

God has been at work through these circumstances in both my husband’s life and my life, but in different ways. In my life, He has had me in what I would describe as the Holy Spirit School of Prayer

During the same period of time, I have been preparing to lead the prayer study in our Sunday school class using The Battle Plan for Prayer Bible Study materials from Stephen and Alex Kendrick, producers of the movie War Room.. What I share today is a combination of what God has personally been teaching me and what I’m learning through the study of these excellent materials.

Now I have a more balanced understanding of what prayer includes. Up until recently, when I thought of prayer, what primarily came to mind was confession of sin, lifting our needs up to the Lord (supplication), and intercession for the needs of others. I always felt like I was falling short in these areas, especially in supplication and intercession, because the needs were so overwhelming that it would literally take “prayer without ceasing” to cover all of them daily.

These are important parts of prayer, but prayer is so much more. I knew in theory that worship, praise and thanksgiving were all elements of prayer, but in my mind they were separate things. I had even tried using the A.C.T.S. acronym – Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving, Supplication – during my prayer time, but I saw this more as a formula for prayer, with worship, praise and thanksgiving more as preparation for prayer than as actual types of prayer.

I had also read of the importance of using God’s Word in prayer, but in my mind and on my daily schedule Bible reading and prayer were two separate things. As we have walked through this difficult season, I’ve begun to understand each of these things as a part of true prayer.

At it’s root, prayer is communion and communication with God. When Paul said in 1 Thessalonians 5:17 we are to pray without ceasing, he was not talking about what I used to think of as prayer. He was saying throughout the day we are to stay in open communication with God. The main way God speaks to us is through His Word, so we are to read His Word expecting Him to speak to us. And we are to respond to what He shows us in prayer. Bible reading and study are meant to be a part of our prayer life, not separate from it.

This season of my life has caused a major change in my daily quiet time. Instead of seeing it as composed of a series of things I do, I have begun to see the whole quiet time as a part of prayer. Praise and worship are no longer preparing my heart for prayer – they are prayer. Overcoming discouragement by looking for God’s blessings in the midst of our trials and expressing my gratitude to Him is also a part of prayer. And when I pick up my Bible or open a Bible app on my iPad to begin reading and studying, I do so with an attitude of prayer and expectancy.

One thing that has really helped me gain this new understanding is prayer journaling. I’m not new to journaling. I remember many years ago as a new Christian getting up and reading my Bible and writing in my journal every morning before leaving for my job as a kindergarten teacher. And through the years, I’ve filled hundreds of notebooks and journals from this habit. But again, I saw this as separate from my prayer life.

When we began walking through this season where the cry of my heart daily became “God, we do not know what to do, but our eyes are on you” (2 Chronicles‬ ‭20:12‬b‭ NIV)‬‬, I began prayer journaling. I now begin my quiet time with a prayer for God to speak to me through His Word, and as He began to do so regularly I grew into an expectancy that this would happen.

Now, as I read God’s word, I do so with a pen in my hand and my current journal open so I can put in writing the things God in showing me. This isn’t really much different than the journaling I’ve always done, but I no longer stop there. Those insights now become prayers of worship, praise and gratitude to God, of confession of sin, of honestly telling God where I am and asking His help, or of commitment to obey something He has shown me I need to do. Often as I’m reading a Scripture, someone with a need comes to mind and I intercede for them. Or I read a verse that gives a burden for Christians facing persecution for their faith and I turn this into a prayer. Or I read a passage that reminds me of how messed up things are in our nation , and I pray using that passage for our nation. Whatever God speaks to my heart during this quiet time in His presence is turned into a prayer of response.

As a result of this growing understanding of all prayer includes, and of learning to make prayer an important part of my day and not just an add-on to my Bible study time, I have been walking through one of the most difficult trials of my recent life, one where my normal response would be fear and anxiety, in almost constant peace. There have been days when staying close to God was a battle – life as a Christian in this fallen world is like that. But by staying in communication with God by talking with Him throughout my day, walking in meekness and submission to His will and purposes in our lives, and resisting the devil and his lies, I’ve experienced God’s peace and strength as seldom before.

As I was praying this morning about this article, a picture came to my mind of someone throwing a large stone into a lake. When the stone breaks the surface of the water, it creates a ripple effect, with concentric waves of water moving out from the spot where the stone landed. This is a picture of the effect of true prayer in our lives. True prayer isn’t just something we do as a part of our daily schedule, or even throughout the day as we become aware of needs. True prayer is like breaking the surface to enter into the presence of God, and the result has a ripple effect. It changes every part of our lives and even spreads out to touch the lives of others.

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Learning Is For a Lifetime

Hundreds of thousands of high school and college students around the United States have recently or will soon graduate. As they grab their mortar boards and throw them in the air, they are rejoicing that their time of schooling is finally over.

For the first eighteen or twenty-two years of our lives, depending upon whether or not we go to college, learning is our main “job.” The majority of our time is spent in classrooms, learning new materials.  And once we graduate, many think this “learning stage” is over. It’s time to leave learning behind and to go out into the adult world.img_0192

I had similar thoughts when I graduated from college. Personally, I knew I would still be in a classroom, since my degree was in Early Childhood Education. But now, I was the teacher, and “they” (my two classes of five year olds) were the students. But a few days after the start of the school year, I saw the error in my reasoning. My children were learning – but so was I. Just finishing my formal education didn’t mean my learning was over. I simply needed to take more responsibility for my acquiring of knowledge from this point on.

This was before the Internet was available for the public, so most of my learning during my years of teaching was from books. This was also a season of making new friends, many of whom were fellow teachers, and I quickly learned that they were good sources of answers to many of my questions. I think my first year of teaching kindergarten was one of the most intense times of learning in my life.

In my second year of teaching, I accepted Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior. Suddenly, there was a whole new body of material to learn. I sensed God calling me to turn in my resignation and enroll in Bible college. I did this, and there we learned the basic principles of the Christian faith and became familiar with the Word of God. But this one year of extended classroom learning was like sticking my toe in the vast pool of teaching found in the Bible.

While in Bible college, I met my future husband. We married at the end of the school year. With marriage, and nine months later having our first child, it didn’t take me long to realize I had many new things to learn. Throughout the last forty-three years, that has continued to be true. Life isn’t static. And with each new stage of life, we see new things we need to learn. Before long, I clearly saw that learning is for a lifetime.


Areas of Lifelong Learning As a Christian:

  • Center on the Word of God. We are called to be disciples, and to be a “disciple” means to be a learner. The main way Jesus teaches and leads us is through His Word. And His purpose in teaching us isn’t just so we’ll be familiar with the facts and principles. We need to learn about our teacher. We need to grow in our knowledge of Him and understand His character, so that we have a good foundation to build our faith upon. We need to know how to recognize His voice when we are reading or praying. And we need to learn how to apply the things He teaches us, even in situations where they may not seem logical.
  • Learn new skills required for your ministry or occupation. I first learned this when I was teaching kindergarten. Even after four years of college, I was totally in the dark about many things: use of some of the equipment, what to teach the children in certain areas so that my classes wouldn’t miss out on some topics that the kindergarten classes in my school regularly taught, and how to handle ongoing discipline problems. Thankfully, I had experienced kindergarten teachers on both sides of my classroom, who took me under their wings and taught me some of these basics. This happened because I had a teachable spirit and was willing to reach out and ask for help.
  • Don’t ignore practical learning for everyday life. As soon as you notice an area where increased knowledge is needed, find some sensible answers. This will vary for each person, but you will reach a point where you need to learn something new. For example, as a newly wed, I knew nothing about cooking Mexican food. I wanted to surprise my husband, and decided to add some jalapeño peppers (seeds and all) to a casserole I was making. He was definitely surprised! As soon as he took a bite, he quickly warned me not to eat it. The casserole was even hotter than he likes, but he ate some so he wouldn’t hurt my feeling. All my previous experience using peppers for cooking had been with bell peppers, and I had no idea how to cut up the jalapeños or how many needed to be added to the casserole. Wisdom would have been learning this before using them in a recipe. After the damage was done, the friend who gave us the jalapeños gave me some instructions on how to chop them – after removing the seeds – and how many to use in cooking.
  • Learn about any other areas that are important for you or your family.  For our family, one of the biggest areas we’ve needed to increase our knowledge is in the medical field. First, when our infant son was diagnosed with Massive Infantile Spasms, we needed to do some research to understand what to expect. And this was just the beginning. I quickly learned that I needed more information about our son’s growing list of problems, to be able to talk intelligently with his doctors. A few years later, I started going through the same process for myself, as one chronic illness after another was added to my medical history.

We are fortunate to live at a time when information about each of these areas, as well as many others, is easy to find. We can learn through personal conversations, reading books, taking classes, listening to recorded audio, and watching educational videos. And the Internet is seemingly an unending source of information.We can even use social media to continue our learning.  But we need to have discernment concerning the sources we use. Is this “fact” really just someone’s opinion? Are these medical sources of information trustworthy?  Use a variety of sources, and stay away from those that seem unreliable. But there are no excuses for not continuing to learn, until you go to be with the Lord.  In fact, Henry Ford said continuing to learn is the key for staying young.


No matter what else you choose to study, don’t neglect the Word of God, our most important instruction book for life.