God Running is a place for anyone who wants to (or even anyone who wants to want to) love Jesus more deeply, follow Jesus more closely, and love people the way Jesus wants us to.
All these with one accord were devoting themselves to prayer, together with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and his brothers.Acts 1:14
Last post from the book of Acts we looked at one very practical way you can love like Jesus loved. (see previous post 1 Super Practical Way You Can Love Like Jesus) Today we’re to the place where, in obedience to Jesus’ instructions, the disciples gathered in a room in Jerusalem, and devoted themselves to prayer with one accord.
One Man’s Prayer History
So there’s a man, who has a history of not having the greatest prayer life. He’s easily distracted. He used to wake up, and then first thing, pick up his phone and check for texts and social media alerts. His best move (still one of his best moves) was to walk and pray. And on these walks, he often became more interested in the created things around him than he was in communicating with the Creator. Another problem was, a lack of problems. When this man was going through something difficult, he found intimacy with God in his prayers. But shortly after God delivered him from his problems, he found himself drifting and daydreaming during his prayer time. Still another problem was that he wasn’t partaking of God’s word in the way he really needed to. It seemed he had enough love and devotion for God to read his Bible, or to pray, but he couldn’t seem to do both in the same morning. He really struggled in these areas. That man is me.
One Man’s Prayer Routine
So I share what I’m about to share as a man with a devotional life that was lacking. I admit my past has been spotty when it comes to prayer and Bible reading. One of the reasons I write this blog is so I can use it as a device to connect me with Jesus. Anyway, two things happened that helped me dramatically and I want to share a little with you about my journey.
First, a friend shared with me how he and his wife wake up in the morning and pray together before they get out of bed. I thought that was pretty spectacular. (Kathy and I pray together before we go to bed because Kathy usually wakes up before I do, so we weren’t going to be able to duplicate that exactly.) But this friend and his wife, Curtis and Kaleigh Ziegler, they were (and are) a big influence on me. And the way they pray before they get out of bed in the morning is part of what brought me to where I landed.
The second thing that happened is I read this excellent book called Your Future Self Will Thank You: Secrets to Self-Control from the Bible and Brain Science by Drew Dyck. Drew had this advice for those of us who struggle with the temptation to grab our phones sitting on our nightstands first thing after waking up.
- Put your phone somewhere out of reach from your bed.
- Put your print Bible on your nightstand.
- Pick up your print Bible off your nightstand first thing when you wake up in the morning, and start reading it.
- You’re already conditioned to consume content upon waking, Drew says, so if you grab that Bible first thing, you’ll read it.
I thought that was brilliant.
I tried it for awhile and it didn’t stick.
But then I tried it with a couple of variations, and here’s where I wound up (the whole thing usually takes about 30 minutes):
1. Praying Through the Bible
- At night, I put my phone in do-not-disturb mode and place it on my nightstand next to my bed.
- In the morning, I pick up my phone first thing and hit the ReadScripture App icon — with my phone still in do-not-disturb mode. (ReadScripture App: best one year Bible reading plan ever, includes short videos.) Then wherever possible I turn what I’m reading into a prayer. So for instance, the other morning my ReadScripture App through the Bible reading program took me to 2 Corinthians 5-6, and Psalm 1. I woke up, grabbed my phone, hit the button and began reading. This is what was written:
For we know that if the tent that is our earthly home is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. For in this tent we groan, longing to put on our heavenly dwelling, if indeed by putting it on we may not be found naked. For while we are still in this tent, we groan, being burdened—not that we would be unclothed, but that we would be further clothed, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life. He who has prepared us for this very thing is God, who has given us the Spirit as a guarantee.
As I read along, I turned it into a prayer. And this is more or less (probably a bit more with the advantage of writing, rather than praying on the fly) what I prayed:
“Father, make each one of us a person for whom you’ve made a building, a house not made with human hands, but an eternal dwelling place with you and Jesus in heaven. For in this tent we groan, longing to put on our heavenly dwelling. Father, make each one of us a person who is not found naked. For while we are still in this tent, we groan, being burdened. Please make each one of us a person who is swallowed up by life, Your life. Father, fill each one of us with Your Holy Spirit the way You did Jesus’ disciples of old.”
And so on, and so forth, through 2 Corinthians 5-6 and Psalm 1, I prayed in this way.
You might have noticed that I prayed to be filled with the Holy Spirit the way God filled Jesus’ disciples of old. I pray to be filled with the Holy Spirit almost every day. Sometimes multiple times a day. This is what Jesus’ disciples are praying for today in our text. One of the most important things anyone can pray for ever is to be filled with God’s Holy Spirit. (see previous post Who Won? vs. Acts 1)
2. Lord, teach us to pray . . .
Next I pray the prayer Jesus said to pray when his disciples asked him point blank, how should we pray? Jesus said to them, “When you pray, say:”
“Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.”Luke 11:1-4, Matthew 6:9-15
3. The Love Prayer
Finally, as I mentioned in a previous blog post, I pray a prayer based on 1 Corinthians 13:
Make me patient today.
Make me kind today.
Make me a person who doesn’t envy today.
Make me a person who doesn’t boast today.
Make me a person who isn’t arrogant today.
Make me a person who isn’t rude today.
Make me a person who doesn’t insist on my own way today.
Make me a person who isn’t irritable or resentful today.
Make me a person who doesn’t rejoice at wrongdoing today.
Make me a person who rejoices with the truth today.
Father, as much as possible, make me a person like Jesus today.
I’ve only been doing this in its entirety for a little over a week, but so far it’s working well. I seem to be able to both read the Bible and pray in a deep and intimate way.
I’m not saying this will work for everybody. I’m only saying this is what’s helped me. And I don’t share this as a person who’s naturally inclined to pray deep intimate prayers. Rather I share this as someone who’s struggled. Because I’ve struggled is precisely why I share this.
So that’s what’s helped me.
What’s helped you?
Leave your suggestions in the comments section below. I’m looking forward to reading them. I’ll take all the help I can get!
Newly released book by Kurt Bennett, now available on Amazon!
Love Like Jesus: How Jesus Loved People (and how you can love like Jesus)
Love Like Jesus begins with the story of how after a life of regular church attendance and Bible study, Bennett was challenged by a pastor to study Jesus. That led to an obsessive seven year deep dive. After pouring over Jesus’ every interaction with another human being, he realized he was doing a much better job of studying Jesus’ words than he was following Jesus’ words and example. The honest and fearless revelations of Bennett’s own moral failures affirm he wrote this book for himself as much as for others.
Love Like Jesus examines a variety of stories, examples, and research, including:
- Specific examples of how Jesus communicated God’s love to others.
- How Jesus demonstrated all five of Gary Chapman’s love languages (and how you can too).
- The story of how Billy Graham extended Christ’s extraordinary love and grace toward a man who misrepresented Jesus to millions.
- How to respond to critics the way Jesus did.
- How to love unlovable people the way Jesus did.
- How to survive a life of loving like Jesus (or how not to become a Christian doormat).
- How Jesus didn’t love everyone the same (and why you shouldn’t either).
- How Jesus guarded his heart by taking care of himself–he even napped–and why you should do the same.
- How Jesus loved his betrayer Judas, even to the very end.
With genuine unfiltered honesty, Love Like Jesus, shows you how to live a life according to God’s definition of success: A life of loving God well, and loving the people around you well too.
A life of loving like Jesus.