I am preaching on this subject on May 25th so it has been especially on my mind. It is also a subject I have thought a lot about over the years. During my training for Church Army I spent a summer reading about prayer. Gradually, I had realised that it was a subject about which I was not taught much after I became a Christian. I was reading around the subject to try to learn more for myself but also I wanted to learn more about how to pass on what I know to others.
You see, I didn't realise for ages after coming to faith that other Christians often had what they called a 'Quiet Time', a time of spending time in prayer and Bible reading. No-one spent time teaching me about private prayer and it started to bother me. What bothers me most is that we are not discipling people on how to spend time with God in private when they come to faith. We teach them doctrine, we show them how to worship in Church, we teach them standards of living that are appropriate for a Christian but do we ever teach them how to sit in God's presence when alone at home in their rooms?
For me it is the times with God on my own that refresh me as much as those in a group setting. being a Christian isn't about learning rules about how to do this or that. It is a relationship with a living person, with a God who is longing for intimacy with us. Jesus spoke of living water when speaking to the woman at the well in John 4.
"Jesus answered her, ‘If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water.’...Jesus answered, ‘Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.’ " John 4:10, 13-14
Sometimes I still feel as if I thirst for this living water. I am only now after 30 years of faith learning to surrender to Father God and develop a truly intimate relationship with Him. I am learning to drink this living water and am aware of it welling up within me.
We are all different and relate to God in different ways. I now want to explore how we express our personality in prayer, in our alone times with God. I want to explore different ways of praying and also learn more about how we can disciple those who come to faith more effectively in developing a relationship with God rather than a set of rules to follow.
I welcome any input or ideas about this subject. We can all learn so much from each other.