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Valleyfair Prayer

• Shawna Boren

In life, our emotions can be on a roller coaster, and our prayer life can follow this same pattern. In this sermon, Shawna shows us how we can find rest and a safe place in prayer with God, no matter our circumstances.

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The dictionary definition of prayer is an invocation or calling out to a deity in hopes of creating a rapport. Prayer can include many things: worship, praying prayers, and requesting help/guidance from a deity. However, prayer can become quite stale in our lives. This is why God invites us to use our imagination during prayer, because our imagination causes us to have a much better prayer life.

At the core of our very being is a natural yearning to cry out for something more. We all seek for something bigger or larger than ourselves, for something better. But, we don’t have to be a larger than life person to pray. To be a person of prayer doesn’t require an extraordinary person, even though some biblical stories say otherwise. In the bible, we have stories such as Enoch and Paul, who prayed unceasingly and with joy all the time. This is hard to do day in and day out though.

Our prayer life sometimes resembles a roller coaster. It can be up for a period of time, and it can take a sudden drop as well. It’s ok that our prayer life consists of ups and downs. The world that we live in is messy and chaotic, and we live in this world, and our prayers reflect living in this world. But, regardless of what our prayer life looks like, we should remember that God is always at work in this world. When we pray, we are simply tapping into what God is already at work doing.

Our prayer life can thrive in the difficult situations in life in spite of feeling up and down like a roller coaster. When we feel stuck and feel that we can’t do anything, it can be a strong point in our prayer life. When we tell God that we got nothing and we need him, he can meet us there. This is the safe place in our lives. No matter how up and down we feel, we can always meet God in our prayers and be safe to reveal how we are feeling.

This safe place is a place of intimacy where we can be one on one with our Creator. Everything that we feel and think can be brought to the surface. This is where we can be true with God. We can be honest, truthful, and even let God know we’re ticked off at God. This is also the place where God can set us free to know who we are in God’s eyes. God can also take us a little deeper than we were thinking of going. Good surprises can come out of letting God work in our prayer life.

God also calls us to a place of rest through prayer. This doesn’t mean we’re lazy. This is where God places us in the eye of the storm. When the rest of our world is swirling around us at breakneck speed, we can join God in prayer to receive the calm that surpasses all understanding. But, many of us just don’t know how to rest. Resting sometimes just requires taking a breath and purposefully setting aside a time to be with Jesus.

The goal of rest is for you to just be you, and that will involve you being imperfect. The second part is letting God be God, who is perfectly perfect. And then, you can see what happens. You can see what happens when you invite the perfect God to love you, imperfections and all.

So, why do we pray? We pray because prayers can change the outcomes in our lives. We pray because even reluctant prayers can turn into passionate prayers when we turn them over to God. Finally, our prayers open pathways into our lives for love to grow. Without prayer, we lose the connection to love that we need to grow.

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Topics: Disciplines, Hope, Prayer


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Focus Scripture:

  • Philippians 4:6

    Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.

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10 thoughts on “Valleyfair Prayer

    Holly says: Monday August 26, 2013 at 7:47 pm

    How about praying constantly with thanksgiving the gifts of God? Taking our minds off the “problems” and looking at, taking stock of all the blessings in the “problem” and all around in everything?

    Reply
    Matt says: Wednesday August 28, 2013 at 10:46 pm

    The High quality mp4 download is last week’s sermon.

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    Joanna Hallstrom says: Thursday August 29, 2013 at 1:00 pm

    Thanks Matt. We updated the mp4.

    Reply
    Kathy D. says: Monday September 2, 2013 at 10:34 am

    Thank you for this message. How about we bring ALL of creation into the message, too? When we pray, to be still and know that He is God, to have Him fill us with His love and transform us, so that we may better love others, how about including in the category of others, ALL of creation? His creatures need our love, too, Jesus calls us to love them – His love is INDIVISIBLE – how are God’s people going to begin to consider them, too, if they are not brought to mind too? How do people increase their love, how are their eyes and hearts opened, not only to the suffering of humanity but for ALL the suffering of ALL life God has made?

    I encourage the leadership to bring us out from being so human centered by including in their messages ALL creation. I ask the leadership to please teach us all how to raise up our risen Lord as LORD OF ALL CREATION. How are we going to learn to grow beyond our own concerns and comforts as a people set apart for God and ALL His purposes in ALL of creation if we do not? 1 Cor 3:2: I gave you milk, not solid food, for you were not yet ready for it. Indeed, you are still not ready.

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    Kathy D. says: Monday September 2, 2013 at 11:05 am

    I hit the enter button by mistake, oopps.

    I understand that there is a lot of pressures on leadership to bring the totality of the Gospel to the people and meet all of us where we are at. You are in my prayers daily for all of this.

    Until leadership begins to bring ALL of creation into the messages and the teaching in the pulpit (Col 1:19,20: For it was the Father’s good pleasure for all the fullness to dwell in Him, and through Him to reconcile all things to Himself, having made peace through the blood of His cross; through Him, I say, whether things on earth or things in heaven) I am afraid change is going to be slow if at all, and we will remain a self-centered bunch, consumed with our own suffering, unable to realize, as Paul did, “… for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances.” Phil 4:11.

    A friend of mine, fellow Christian, concerned also about the state of Christianity today, said to me: “I can only think the reason the Church as a whole doesn’t look all the way down through the Cross to the animal kingdom, is that it is made up of people of the Fall, who naturally hold on to their fallen traits. God spoke through Isaiah when He said, “Go to this people and say, ‘You will be ever hearing but never understanding; you will be ever seeing but never perceiving’. For this people’s heart has become calloused; they hardly hear with their ears, and they have closed their eyes. Otherwise, they might see with their eyes, hear with their ears, understand with their hearts and turn, and I would heal them.” ‘ O Lord may this not be the case of us today, I pray it’s not!

    Thanks for hearing this message. Lord bless you all, none of this is said in judgment, none of us are blameless. It is said out of love, His INDIVISIBLE love. In my spirit, in my heart, the deepest place in my heart and in my soul, I am SO concerned about the church and the need for ALL of us to speak boldly on this, for it is URGENT.

    Reply
    Westley Ingram says: Wednesday September 4, 2013 at 2:35 pm

    Thank You Kathy D.

    I am based in the UK for your records. I went a couple of years ago to an interfaith group event called “Faith in Food”. I was struck in particular by the fact that the dignity and welfare of animals is central to pretty much every religions food culture except contemporary Christianity. This means that if you want to eat a commodified, industrilaised and brutalised animal you need a find a Christian to sell it to you. I realise that there are exceptions everywhere but still I think it’s worth reflecting on.

    I agree with Kathy D. the least of these has to include those we do not even consider worthy of consideration, including animals.

    Also, I believe that we need to consider more than just the Animal Kingdom and deepen our “looking all the way through the cross”(lovely turn of phrase) to include Climate Change, Soil erosion, Air quality, Biofuels, Water tables (Fracking) and many more topics. All these are indicative of a complete disconnect with the idea that God is our Creator.

    In the UK it is estimated that we live as if there were 3 planet Earths. Demonstrably there is only one and we Christian claim to work for the God who made it. It cannot be consistent with our Faith to confess with our lives that we have a three planet God and confess with our lips a one planet God. As I understand it in the USA it is about 5 planets.

    With deep love and abiding affection,

    Westley I.

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    Dave Pritchard says: Thursday September 5, 2013 at 5:48 am

    Kathy & Westley,

    Fascinating discussion! Paradoxically, I feel nearly the same as you do about the “Cigarette Industry” and the forced inhalation of others “Second Hand Smoke”! To add a little more fuel of indignation to the fire here, I want to throw up a few staggering statistics about “Fast Food” consumption in the US.

    Data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture found that in 2011 the average American consumed nearly one ton of food. That’s 1,996 pounds of food a year.
    In that same year the average American had –

    – 141.6 lbs. of sweeteners and 53 gallons of soda.
    – 20 percent of all American meals are eaten in the car.
    – Americans consume 31 percent more packaged food than fresh food.
    – Over 10 billion donuts are consumed in the US every year.
    – Americans spend 10 percent of their disposable income on fast food every year.

    The list goes on and on. The problem is as you have stated – “A complete disconnect” of our responsibly of true “Stewardship” of the earth as God had originally intended. It really is “Systemic Evil” on a grandiose scale! In some ways, all of us are unfortunately imbedded in this self-destructive system of perpetual and ever increasing consumption.

    Even campaigns of moderation and civility are met with aggressive skepticism and share holder opposition. One does not need to be an “Anti-capitalist” or even “Vegan” to clearly see the insanely negative effects of rampant consumerism that indirectly feeds into the horrific abuse of animals. An exemplary life of frugality coupled with a deep respect for the earth and its wildlife absolutely needs to be part of a Post-Modern Christianity that finds itself in a world of over 7 Billion people and rising!

    Personally, I don’t believe that the consumption of meat or even smoking for that matter is inherently “evil” in and of itself, but…. it certainly can be used by “The Adversary” to cause untold human and animal suffering on a grotesque and unprecedented scale!

    Reply
    Kathy D. says: Friday September 6, 2013 at 8:37 pm

    Thank you Westley and Dave, good discussion!

    Westly, I do find that the UK is much more conscious of the suffering of other God created life than Americans and in particular Western Christianity. I agree, it is the WHOLE creation that Jesus is concerned about, died for, to reconcile “all things to Himself.” I’m concerned about the environment, too. In fact the environment is what originally got me involved in activism. Then I saw a video of an animal being skinned alive for it’s fur. Which is common and the norm in some areas of our world. This took me on a journey that has completely changed my life. This journey and educational path I took has opened up my eyes to a very different world than I use to see. I now find it hard to attend church. I’m turned off by the humanistic approach to the life of faith and the Peaceable Kingdom. I try not to judge – none are blameless, least of all me. Yet, I do not feel I fit in this world or the world of Christian churches. I crave to worship and learn from a Gospel that is preached all the way through the cross that upholds ALL of creation, I NEED that now. I no longer see the world as just suffering humans as I use to, I see ALL the suffering of creation – humans, animal, planet; I see the need for us as Jesus followers to shower ALL of suffering creation with His love; we are to be active participants in bringing about the Peaceable Kingdom, 2 Chronicles 7:14, “If my people which are called by my name shall humble themselves and pray and seek my presence and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land.” Rev 11:18 warns us, “The nations were angry, and your wrath has come. The time has come for judging the dead, and for rewarding your servants the prophets and your people who revere your name, both great and small– and for destroying those who destroy the earth.” I am afraid for the Christian faith at times. The Lord is merciful and loving it is true, yet let us not forget, His Son had to die to save us from our sin – sin is serious.

    I agree that eating animals and smoking isn’t necessarily inherently evil, Dave. How we are treating the animals is, as you’ve so eloquently pointed out, and Satan will use any weakness we have; and smoking, well, dangerous to health and addictive – if only one could smoke one now and then, huh!

    Reading in a book this morning, Animal Welfare – Through The Cross, by Roslyne Smith (UK resident and friend), the author Dr. Arabella Melville of the article “Putting On The Blinkers: A Scientific Education”, she writes: “So I went to Iowa to learn new techniques, I went with a open mind to all the scientists could teach me. What I saw was cruelty so shocking that even my well grown blinkers could not protect me……Tearing off the blinkers is tremendously painful. They grow into your mind with multiple attachments deep into the psyche. They grow to protect you from emotional pain; tear them off and you experience all that pain and more….”.

    As I read this, I realized most people are totally desensitized to the realities all around us. By looking at what is really happening in the world around us, what the true cost of our consumerism really is in the way of the rape of our planet and the tremendously blinkered way in which most all of us have lived or still do in regards to the comforts of our lives and where that comfort came from – most of it off of the suffering of innocent animals – that what the Gospel is telling us is precisely that we need to remove these “blinkers,” and look at the pain, feel the pain and suffering we are causing to the innocent, in order to truly experience Christ, His complete healing, the reconciliation He died for, in order for His love to truly change us from the tyrants that we are to the Image of the humble and serving Christ . His death was also for the purposes of making us reconcilers through Him, which includes creation. How can we possibly become reconcilers in any degree to our own species even if we will not look at the suffering, ALL of it, all the way down through the Cross, and take off the blinkers? This is one of the reasons why I feel it so important that the church begin teaching the Gospel all the way through the cross, and not stop at us humans.

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