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Refreshment in Refuge

    by Gina Burgess

The art of prayer
Date Posted: October 17, 2021

Is prayer an art?

I can be lost in wonder at the beauty of some prayers. David's for example how Psalm 16 begins, A Secret Treasure of David. Watch over me, O God, for I take refuge in You... Or how about Paul's in Philippians 1:9 And this I pray, that your love may yet abound more and more in full knowledge and all perception, 10 for you to distinguish the things that differ, that you may be sincere and without blame for the day of Christ, 11 being filled with fruits of righteousness through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God.

Some prayers have been combined with music which settles the soul’s yearning such as David’s cry after he acknowledged his sin with Bathsheba, Create in me a clean heart, Oh, Lord, and renew a right spirit within me. Cast me not away from Your presence, and remove not your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me, the joy of my salvation, and uphold me with a willing spirit.

What glory shines from our faces and our lives when we exercise our faith by praying? It is well with the soul as one song declares, when we know Who is powerful enough to deliver us from our troubles. And if not deliverance, then we are sustained through them. God is pleased with our faith.

But the simple prayer of Jesus, "Father, forgive them for they know not what they do," is one of the greatest works of art of all time. The wonder and beauty of this plea from the cross in His darkest hour, and His deepest pain cannot be fathomed in a lifetime. This is our lesson. This is God’s pleasure that we forgive through faith as He forgives us.

It takes faith to forgive, because it is not all right that someone intentionally inflicts pain on God’s children. Forgiving does not call the action of injustice all right. What it does do, is free the person forgiving from the clawing clutches of anger, bitterness, and hatred. When those things take over the heart, it leaves little room for God’s love. Praying for your enemies is the best road to forgiving them.

My Dad used to ask me to say the blessing every single time I was upset or angry about something. Every time, before I was finished praying, my heart was filled with peace and I could look at whatever had upset me with clearer vision.

If it is hard to pray for your enemy, then pray, “May God bless and keep _______ far away from me.” Or pray as Beth Moore suggests in her book, Praying the Word, O Father, please cause the love of Christ to compel me to do what is right in this challenging situation. (2 Corinthians 5:14)

And isn't it absolutely wonderful that Jesus prayed for us! As Paul points out we were sinners, ugly and unlovely, but He first loved us in our unlovely state. Jesus prayed, in John 17:10 All mine are yours, and yours are mine and I have glory in them.

Of course this part of His prayer is for His disciples, the eleven who were faithful. However, I am a disciple of His and I am expected to bring Him glory. Jesus has glory in me. Selah! What an awesome thought. How I act. How I present myself to the world. What I think, either brings glory to Him or shame. He took the burden of all my sins. He counted the shame of the cross as nothing compared to the joy on the other side.

John 17:13 And now I come to You, and I speak these things in the world, that they may have My joy being fulfilled in them.

Jesus spoke His prayer in the world. That is difficult to understand. But when we consider that He lay all His riches aside and stepped away from His place beside His Father so that we could understand God better, understand how we are to conduct ourselves righteously, understand the stark difference between good and evil in order to choose the good and reject the evil. Yes. I can absolutely see how that fills me up with Joy. Indescrible, unmistakable, unquenchable Joy.

So is part of the art of prayer the joy that accompanies the presence of God? I believe it is. If we become pray-ers by rote, repeating prayers without feeling or understanding their meaning, then the joy is not in it or in us.

Paul tells us to "Pray without ceasing." That is in 1 Thessalonians 5:17. Doing that is definitely an art: To develop our relationship with God to such a degree that our every thought is a conversation with Him. That is an art form worthy of pursuing.

I believe it is also worthy to laugh with God. He has such a wonderful sense of humor, after all He gave one to us if we just exercise it.

So interesting that Paul also cautions us to give thanks in everything (he means in the good times and the bad times) for this is the will of God. Do not quench the Spirit, do not despise the prophecies, keep back from every form of evil. Then he gives a blessing: May the God of peace Himself fully sanctify you, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. What a glorious blessing!

May the God of peace fully sanctify you, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen. May you pursue the art of prayer so that your tender relationship with our LORD blossoms into the eternal fragrance that pleases God. Amen and Amen.

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Biography Information:
Gina Burgess has taught Sunday School and Discipleship Training for almost three decades. (Don't tell her that makes her old.) She earned her Master's in Communication in 2013.

She is the author of several books including: When Christians Hurt Christians, The Crowns of the Believers and others available in online bookstores. She authors several columns, using her God-given talent to shine a light in a dark world. You can browse her blog at Refreshment In Refuge.

If you'd like to take a look at some Christian fiction and Christian non-fiction book reviews before the books hit the book store shelves, check out Gina's book reviews at Upon Reflection

Gina is a partner and COO of Common Sense Marketing Strategies, LLC that owns Authors Community and eBookChristian.com
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