Developing a lifestyle of prayer is developing a life that seeks to come out of hiding. Every moment God is nearby asking, “Where are you?” When we hide, cover up, deny, justify, and blame others, our prayer is overshadowed and interrupted by shame and guilt. Sometimes we go back to the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thinking if we eat a little more our vision might clear. It never works! Guilt-ridden, we hear God’s question, “Where are you?” as a judgment rather than an invitation from a God who is closer to us than we are to ourselves—a God whose kingdom is within us!
There are so many ways in which we are tempted to return to the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, hoping to make ourselves more presentable. We hone our “glittering image,” we get yet another degree, we read another book, we seek to be identified with important people, we acquire wealth, power, and good public relations. We do the due diligence required of our roles. We become adept at putting a “spin” on our image. We stand on the corners of life grateful that we are not like others. None of this is negative in and of itself; however, these identity attachments so easily become a false identity and the only identity we will allow. Any new fruit from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil separates us from our actual selves and the reality of God in us.
–Adapted from Giving Ourselves to Prayer: An Acts 6:4 Primer for Ministry (Chapter 34, Developing a Lifestyle of Prayer by Gerald Schmidt).
Lord God, I am often guilty of making myself look good instead of focusing on making You famous! Forgive my self-centered, ego-driven desires to guard my own image. Help me to die to self daily so that I can live more fully for You and the sake of Your kingdom rather than my own. May I be a living sacrifice for Your sake, so that others will see and experience You alone in my words and actions.
Praise the Son of Man, who cares about your material needs, your health, and your freedom. Thank him for including you in “proclaim[ing] the year of the Lord’s favor” (Lk. 4:18-19). Confess that you give more thought to your family’s needs than to the needs of those who have far less. Commit yourself to change. Ask God to open your eyes, heart, time, and finances to a specific person or outreach ministry.
Pray daily that together with family members or friends you will unite around a ministry cause. Ask for oneness of desire.
–Prayer Points taken from Patterns for Prayer by Alvin VanderGriend