October 14th, 2014 by
We wanted to once again thank you for your use and support of FRVNT. You have made this journey incredibly special for our team. As we told you a few weeks back, we will be closing FRVNT down. Quite a few of you inquired as to why, and the simple answer is cost. It costs us money to continue development on the web and on iOS and it costs us money to run the servers that power FRVNT. FRVNT was always meant to be free, so charging you for the service was simply out of the question.
Thank you so much for everything!
September 5th, 2013 by
“When you stop trying to control your life and instead allow your anxieties and problems to bring you to God in prayer, you shift from worrying to watching. You watch God weave His patterns in the story of your life. Instead of trying to be out front, designing your life, you realize you are inside God’s drama. As you wait, you begin to see Him work and your life begins to sparkle with wonder. You are learning to trust again.”
These words struck me hard because I know how true this is for me. So often I worry about the outcome of situations in my life; I lose sleep, I stress out and am unhappy, or maybe even just become forceful to make sure things are fitting to my plan. I am reminded through this reading that I am subjected to all of this because I am trying to run out in front of God. Why? Because I lack faith that God will fulfill my desires and meet my expectations. I need control.
I am asking myself today how much I really want to see my plan out over sitting back and watching God’s plan for me unfold. I do believe that I can live a life separated from God’s perfect plan and even have a chance at it being a successful one (in an Earthly sense), but how much easier would it be for me to sit back and watch Him write my story and I just play the part?
Photo Credit: Limitless Living
I compare the practice of playing the part and watching God design my life to the “Flying V”. A solitary bird can fly into a headwind and will make forward progress, however, it is physically unable to travel the same distance alone as it could with the flock.
In comparison, a flock of birds flying in formation is much more efficient because the lead bird is creating a disturbance in the air that makes it easier for the birds behind it to fly. Together they will go much further and expend far less energy. Falling out of the formation ruins the effect.
The correlation is pretty clear, but God wants to lead us on our journey through life. He will cut the headwind for us as long as we are willing to sit back behind Him and follow His lead. When we start to make our own plans or lean on our own power, we are stuck flying into the wind. Before long anxiety, worry, and frustration will creep in and take hold in our lives.
Lean on God today. Ask for Him to give you the courage to surrender the lead. If we follow Him, He will bless our path (Proverbs 3:5-6).
August 22nd, 2013 by
"We don’t need self-discipline to pray continuously; we just need to be poor in spirit. Poverty of the spirit makes room for his Spirit. It creates a God-shaped hole in our hearts and offers us a new way to relate to others."
In Chapter 7, Crying “Abba” – Continuously, Paul Miller shares what it means to pray continuously. In the quote above Miller addresses the method for a successful continuous prayer life–being poor in spirit. By realizing that we need Christ and the mercy of the Father we can begin to see people differently and more importantly see ourselves and all our failures.
As I try to raise my three sons, I realize how little I know, and how selfish and flawed I am as a father. It’s those moments that I need to turn to God and cry “Abba, Abba, Abba”. The realization of my inability to do anything without Christ is what brings my spirit into continuous prayer. Crying out for His mercies!
I love how Miller’s continuous prayers are short and not so much specific prayer requests about a particular issue or need, but rather a self reflection on his own realization that he is in need. Prayers like “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner”, or “Father, Father, Father” are just what we need to be praying to get our spirit in line with the Father.
"A praying life isn’t simply a morning prayer time; it is about slipping into prayer at odd hours of the day, not because we are disciplined but because we are in touch with our own poverty of spirit, realizing that we can’t even walk through a mall or our neighborhood without the help of the Spirit of Jesus"
August 19th, 2013 by
"Prayer is bringing your helplessness to Jesus."
Paul Miller gives examples of the helplessness that people came to Jesus with in the Book of John.
- – The Samaritan woman without water (John 4)
- – The official’s son has no health (John 4)
- – The crippled man has no help to get into the water (John 5)
- – The crowd has no bread (John 6)
- – The blind man has no sight (John 9)
- – Lazarus has no life (John 11)
These examples, especially the last one, make me feel like the requests I have for God are superficial and meaningless. After thinking about it some more, though, I realized that it’s not that God doesn’t want to hear about the more superficial things in my life. It’s actually that I am not a mature enough of a Christian to realize my total need for God in my life. It’s because I often feel like I have the basics under my own control that I pray about the more insignificant. “Sure, I can safely surrender that one to God.” Ouch!
Isn’t it just so easy to look at our lives and see the things that we have done on our own strength? It’s when I am in this state of mind that I start to feel like I have things pretty well put together. Again, my immaturity as a Christian allows me to overlook the messiness in my heart; jealousy, impatience, and others.
The author states that if we think we can do life on our own, we won’t take prayer seriously. It’s the times that I am in utter despair that I look to Jesus for help. How much would a friend of yours appreciate you only calling when you need help moving? You better believe I wouldn’t show up (and that’s just how much Jesus is better than me because he still would!).
Life gets busy. We’re trying to climb the corporate ladder, help kids with homework, make sure the house is clean, and get some exercise to stay healthy. How quickly prayer can be removed from our daily schedule. When something is important to us, we make room for it. A friend calls for coffee so we shuffle around plans. Someone asks us to join a softball team so we adapt. Why not adjust our days for prayer?
Paul Miller says that prayer is simply not important to many Christians because Jesus is already an add on to our lives. I can’t help but admit that at times he is right. I want to make space for Jesus in my day and I think I have a lot of work ahead.
How are you working to save time for prayer? What’s working for you? Let me know on Twitter at @gstjohn.
August 13th, 2013 by
"If you know that you, like Jesus, can’t do life on your own, then prayer makes complete sense."
Chapter 5 delves into why Jesus prayed and how He prayed. I was particularly intrigued by the question of why did Jesus pray in the morning, in a desolate place where he couldn’t be interrupted. I have often found myself distracted by the kids, or by other things around the house when I try to pray in the morning. It makes perfect sense to me why He found a desolate place where He couldn’t be interrupted. Miller lists three clues from Jesus’ life as to why He prayed the way he did:
The first clue is His Identity. Jesus is a part of the Father, He can’t separate himself from him.
"Imagine asking Jesus how he’s doing. He’d say, ‘My Father and I are doing great. He has given me everything I Need today.’ You respond, ‘I’m glad your Father is doing well, but let’s just focus on your for a minute. Jesus, how are you doing?’ Jesus would look at you strangely, as if you were speaking a foreign language.”
Jesus had never experienced a moment away from the Father which is why He was so anguished to go to the cross. His anguish is our normal.
The second clue is His One Person Focus. When Jesus is with someone, that person is the only person in the room. I love how Jesus is like this. At times, I have trouble just focusing on one friends conversation without my mind wandering to something else. Jesus models how we are to focus only on the Father during prayer. This is an exercise I need improvement in!
The third clue is His Limited Humanity. Jesus needs to separate himself from everyone in order to really connect with the Father. This is why we see him withdraw throughout the gospels. As in our own lives, pulling a good friend aside for some one-on-one intimate conversation is what draws that friendship closer. Jesus was no different, nor should we be when praying to our Father.
Miller talks a bit further in this chapter about praying how Jesus prayed. The biggest take away I had here was his list of “Baby Steps” to get your prayer life jump started. I know I for one will be trying these things out to make improvements myself.
- – Get to bed early. If you want to pray in the morning you need to make sure you get enough rest to wake up early.
- – Get up and out of bed. If I stay in bed and try to pray, more often then not I’ll fall back asleep.
- – Get awake. Brew up some coffee if you need to!
- – Get a quiet place. Find a spot that you can be alone and quiet with the Father.
- – Get comfortable. Don’t feel like you have to pray on your knees if it hurts, get comfortable so you’re not distracted by physical things.
- – Get going. Start with just five minutes. (Sounds easy enough, right?)
- – Keep going. Consistency is key here!
We’re finally getting into some actionable items in this book, I can’t wait to try them myself!
August 9th, 2013 by
"Little children can’t imagine that their parents won’t eventually say ‘yes.’ They know if they keep pestering their parents they will eventually give in. Childlike faith drives this persistence. Don’t be embarrassed by how needy your heart is and how much it needs to cry out for grace. Just start praying.”
Oh, how having an 11-month old causes me to relate to these words. My daughter is already learning that if she is persistent enough we will eventually either give her what she wants or provide her with some compromise. Maybe we ought to get this in check sooner rather than later :-).
I have grown up in the church all of my life and if you have too, you might have heard of the ACTS model for prayer.
- – Adoration
- – Confession
- – Thanksgiving
- – Supplication
While it is a good framework and each of the parts are highly important, ACTS removes our ability to just cry out to God for the desires of our heart (selfish or otherwise). If prayer is meant to be a conversation, how can it be fit to a structure without becoming legalistic?
If the bills were due and the bank was empty, the first things I would say to my wife would most certainly not be, “You look beautiful and I love you. I struggled today with anger and said things to my co-worker that I shouldn’t have. Thank you for being such a good mother to our child. OK, we don’t have enough money for rent and we really, really need a miracle.” She would almost surely believe I was buttering her up for bad news. Instead, I would would go to her and share our situation and tell her we needed a miracle. I think this is the same God expects from us if we are being real with Him.
We should ask and be confident that if we are persistent in our prayers that God will hear them and provide. This doesn’t mean that God will fulfill all of our heart’s desires, but I do believe that through prayer He will change our desires to be in line with His own.
We should be as children when in prayer. Praying with expectation that eventually our Heavenly Father will say “yes.”
August 8th, 2013 by
Consider these words from Paul Miller:
“Jesus wants us to be without pretense when we come to him in prayer. Instead, we often try to be something we aren’t. We begin by concentrating on God, but almost immediately our minds wander off in a dozen different directions. The problems of the day push out our well-intentioned resolve to be spiritual. We give ourselves a spiritual kick in the pants and try again, but life crowds out prayer. We know that prayer isn’t supposed to be like this, so we give up in despair. We might as well get something done.”
How many of you have felt this way before? I know I have (regularly)! I enter into prayer with the best of intentions. I want to connect with God and communicate, but there are unread emails in my Inbox or the baby needs attention or I’ve only got a few minutes before I have to run off to something else. Suddenly, my mind wanders to those things and before I know it, I’ve moved on with my day. The author addresses these problems with us directly.
“What’s the problem?…We know we don’t need to clean up our act in order to become a Christian, but when it comes to praying, we forget that. We, like adults, try to fix ourselves up. In contrast, Jesus wants us to come to him like little children, just as we are.”
But how can that be? How can the Almighty God be OK with us being scattered? Doesn’t He deserve, even demand, our focus and attention? Yes, He does, but it is in the silence of prayer that we are made to realize how unspiritual we actually are, how easy it is for us to remove God from our lives.
The author tells us to come to Jesus as a little child. Come as we are and acknowledge that we are imperfect. God doesn’t look down at us in shame, but rather in delight that we are working, growing, striving to be in relationship with Him.
The Bible says “Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28, NASB). This is the call of Christ. We are to come to Him has children; eagerly making wobbly steps towards our Father. The stresses of our day our the things God wants to help us through, so why not lift them up to Him?
“Don’t try to get the prayer right; just tell God where you are and what’s on your mind. That’s what little children do. They come as they are, runny noses and all. Like the disciples, they just say what is on their minds.”
It’s hard for me to remember that the all mighty GOD is my Father, just like I am a father to my daughter, Raegan. At just over 11 months old, we praise even the smallest of her new accomplishments. I am committing this week to remembering how I feel when Raegan succeeds and to knowing that God feels the same way with me.
August 7th, 2013 by
I love this book. After only a handful of chapters, it’s so refreshing to read and to know that someone else has thought the same cynical thoughts I have had about prayer. Thoughts like, “Does prayer make any difference?” or “Is God even there?” have all crossed my mind before in difficult times. Sometimes prayer has just felt useless and at one point I even gave up praying because I didn’t think it mattered.
The author, Paul Miller, candidly shares what (I think) most of us go through–praying for 15 seconds and then all of the sudden todays To-Do list pops into our head or we are distracted by some non-relevant issue. As if he’s reading our thoughts, Miller states for us what we’re all thinking, “Something must be wrong with me. Other Christians don’t seem to have this trouble praying.” I smiled when I read this, because I have so been there. I smiled even more when I read the next line, “Something is wrong with us.”
We were made in the image of God. We have that natural desire to pray in us, but it’s been marred by sin which makes it difficult for us to pray how the Father intended. What a relief to know that it’s not just because I can’t seem to “figure prayer out” but that it’s my sinful nature that is blocking what Miller calls our prayer antennae.
In Chapter 2, Miller gives us our first insight into why we tend to struggle with prayer, “Oddly enough, many people struggle to learn how to pray because they are focusing on praying, not on God.” He then goes on to address what ‘The Praying Life’ is and sets us up for how we can achieve a praying life.
There are five characteristics of a praying life:
- – interconnection with all of life
- – awareness of the story
- – giving birth to hope
- – becoming integrated
- – revealing the heart
My favorite characteristic is interconnection with all of life. Miller says, “Consequently, a praying life isn’t something you accomplish in a year. It is a journey of a lifetime.” Prayer isn’t something in which I will ever “arrive”. It’s a journey that will take my entire lifetime. I find solace in that and hope you do too.
In an effort to exercise those prayer muscles, I’ve been actively praying for the Public Prayers in FRVNT and have been so stoked to see God answering the prayers of complete strangers. It’s actually sparked a fire in me to dive deeper into prayer and I can’t wait to read what Paul Miller has to say about that in future chapters.
Thanks for reading along, and thanks for taking this prayer journey with us through FRVNT.
August 2nd, 2013 by
While we think that FRVNT is the best app for sharing and journaling prayers, in reality it’s less about the app itself and all about the act of prayer. Why do we pray? What is the purpose of prayer? Bill Bright, founder of Campus Crusade for Christ, wrote a great little article on the Purpose of Prayer. Take a couple of minutes to read it and remind yourself why we pray and how we can apply prayer in our lives. We built FRVNT to be a tool that helps you in your prayer life.
Prayers in FRVNT
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