Why Do You Pray? – Why Prayer…

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I’ve prayed for many things throughout my life. I’ve prayed to receive protection. I’ve prayed to get jobs. I’ve prayed to get out of trouble. I’ve prayed for my favorite teams to win the big games. I’ve even prayed for good grades on exams I didn’t study for, let alone attend the classes.

I’ve prayed about all sorts of things, but there’s one thing that most of my prayers have had in common: they’re all about me. Whether they’re about a want or a need, my prayers have almost always been centered around trying to get something from God. In this way, I’ve often treated prayer as a transaction—I pray, and then I expect God to give me what I ask for in return, like a vending machine.

Requesting what we want and need is a part of prayer, but when we make it the only part of prayer, or the focal point of prayer, we miss out on what God wants to offer us through prayer. Prayer is an invitation to know God. He created us and knows our hearts, and he wants us to know him too.

Psalm 139:24       
23 Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. 24 Point out anything in me that offends you, and lead me along the path of everlasting life.

This is a very helpful reminder that we matter to God, he knows our hearts, and he cares about us. When we reflect on how amazing it is that the Creator of the Universe wants to know us personally, and wants us to personally know him, it can change the whole focal point of our prayers. It makes them all about knowing God more. And as we make knowing God the “Why?” behind our prayers, we begin to trust more that he will provide for all the needs we bring before him.

Questions:
Why do you pray? What do you pray for?

Next Steps:
Take a step to change your “Why?” and start your next prayer by praising God for who he is and expressing gratitude for what he has done. Starting our prayers with praise and gratitude helps us remember it is about knowing God, not just about making requests.

Join Lead Pastor Ben Snyder as he leads Morning Prayer. You can participate by visiting any of our church’s social media accounts: Facebook, Instagram and YouTube.

28 Days of Prayer:
Day 5
Father, I come to you in prayer today thankful that I am your child. You have forgiven me and adopted me as your own. You have made me righteous and restored our relationship. I am so grateful that you are my Father. Thank you for loving me. I love you.
Day 6
Dear God, nothing is too hard for you! Through your great power, all things are possible. All authority is yours, all might is yours, and I know that your victory will be complete. You are amazing, and I worship you. I praise you for your power and presence in my life. You are my God, and you are worthy of all praise.
Day 7
God, I am in awe of you. Your name is a strong tower, a place of protection and safety for me. I praise you as my healer, my shepherd, and my hope. You
are my peace, my provider, my righteousness, and my joy. Your name is great, and I worship you.


This post was written by David Hammack, a regular contributor to the LivingItOut Bible Study.


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Conversations with Your Father – Why Prayer…

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Psalm 139:13-18  
13 You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body and knit me together in my mother’s womb. 14 Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex! Your workmanship is marvelous—how well I know it. 15 You watched me as I was being formed in utter seclusion, as I was woven together in the dark of the womb. 16 You saw me before I was born. Every day of my life was recorded in your book. Every moment was laid out before a single day had passed. 17 How precious are your thoughts about me, O God. They cannot be numbered! 18 I can’t even count them; they outnumber the grains of sand! And when I wake up, you are still with me!

How old are you? When did you first realize God is real and that he  has loved you since long before you had a conscious thought … and all those opinions you’ve accumulated over a lifetime? Do you live up close and personal with the God of all Creation, the Great I Am, the One True God, Savior, and King?  Or has your time in this world beaten you down and left you feeling separated from the One who loves you most?

Lead Pastor Ben Snyder masterfully unwraps the true power of prayer and how it is our gateway to a deep and meaningful relationship with the one true God, Yahweh, the one who created you for the sole purpose of loving you and knows everything about you, both good and bad. Ben reminded us that we are fearfully and wonderfully made and that God has been with us and loving us unceasingly since long before we were born. That’s right, God is real and loves us more than we can begin to comprehend.

King David lovingly writes in Psalm 139 about God being present for the formation of every cell of our physical being, and even more amazing, he wrote, “Every day of my life was recorded in your (God’s) book. Every moment was laid out before a single day had passed” (Psalm 139:16).

We are never without him. He will never leave us or forsake us, and prayer is how we draw nearer to him. And, no, I don’t mean things like: “Rub-a-dub-dub, thanks for the grub, let’s eat” or “Please, Lord, don’t let Mom find out I stole that $5 bill she left on the counter.”  God is not “the Big Guy” or “the Man Upstairs” or a Santa Claus character we ask for stuff from. He is the one true God, and he created us to have a loving relationship with him.

The bottom line is: God does not separate himself from us; we separate ourselves from him.  Prayer is the way to connect with God and the way to grow that relationship.

Are your prayers about what you want in the here and now, problems  you want solved, or suffering you want ended?  Or are they about recognizing his power and authority over all things and marveling in how he uses those hard times to melt away the sin in your life and replace it with the character of Christ? How could any conversation you have with anyone else be more important and life changing than the deep, reverent ones we are gifted to be able to have with God?

Questions:
Is God truly number 1 in your life? If not, why?

Are you stuck in living a physical life with more passion than you have for the eternal life you have with God?

How’s your prayer life?

Next Steps:
Repent.  Tell God you are sorry for not spending quality time with him and making him the center of your reason for living.

Commit to and stick with the 28 Days of Pray. Tune into Ben’s morning messages about it.

To grow a heart of gratitude, look up and write down verses that express just how much God loves you.

Re-examine your lifestyle and ask yourself why you are here and what you can do to share the Lord’s  love with others.

Check out CedarCreek.tv/21days for prayer resources you can use throughout this season of prayer.

28 Days of Prayer: Day 4
God, in your Word you invite me to pour out my heart to you. You are my refuge. I know that anything I think, feel, or do is ok to bring to you. Knowing you are a safe place for me, I come to you and give you everything (talk to God about the specific things that are on your heart today). From what worries me to what delights me, to what I hope for, to what I’m afraid of, I bring it all to you because I can trust you. Help me and guide me in every area, in Jesus’ name.


This post was written by Martha Smith, a regular contributor to the LivingItOut Bible Study. Martha describes herself as a lover of Christ who likes to share faith with others.


Check out the Latest LivingItOut Podcast

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God is Here – Why Prayer…

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Do you remember playing hide-and-seek as a child? If you have children or younger family members or friends, you are probably very experienced with the game.

Several years ago, my family played a full-house game of hide-and-seek after dinner, where one person hid and everyone else raced to find them. When it was my dad’s turn to hide, it took us forever to find him. He had climbed onto the rafters in the finished attic and turned off the light. All you could see were his eyes in the dark room!

Unfortunately, we play hide-and-go-seek in our real lives too. We play it when we refuse to share our fears, sorrows, regrets, and frustrations with someone who cares for us, or when we say “no” to life-giving things. Sometimes we even try to hide from God—by not attending church regularly or by attempting to be perfect on our own.

But the Bible tells us that we can never hide from God. In Psalm 139, King David writes about his experiences trying to run from God.

Psalm 139:7-12
7 I can never escape from your Spirit! I can never get away from your presence! 8 If I go up to heaven, you are there; if I go down to the grave, you are there. 9 If I ride the wings of the morning, if I dwell by the farthest oceans, 10 even there your hand will guide me, and your strength will support me. 11 I could ask the darkness to hide me and the light around me to become night—12 but even in darkness I cannot hide from you. To you the night shines as bright as day. Darkness and light are the same to you.

God sees us—all of our regrets, pain, fears, stress—and still, he pursues us. No matter what we might look to, no matter where we try to hide, God is there, right by our side, waiting for us to trust him. His Spirit is inescapable and omnipresent. He is with us constantly. Even when we don’t feel his presence or see him moving in our lives, we can trust that he is by our side.

Joshua 1:9
This is my command—be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.

Questions:
How do you play hide-and-seek? Do you  avoid connecting with people, sharing your gifts, or talking to God? What feeling do you experience when you hear that God is pursuing you?

Next Steps:
Think about the ways you hide from God’s mission for your life. If you haven’t yet, join a Group or attend GrowthTrack. These are great ways to step into trusting God and finding freedom. Turn to God in prayer, following our 28 Days of Prayer this month.

Don’t worry if you don’t always see or feel God’s presence—he is always there! Listen to the song “Way Maker.” It’s a great reminder that even when we don’t see or feel God, he is still working. Consider memorizing all of Psalm 139—it is a wonderful piece of scripture to hold in your heart.

Join Lead Pastor Ben Snyder as he leads Morning Prayer. You can participate by visiting any of our church’s social media accounts: Facebook, Instagram and YouTube.

28 Days of Prayer: Day 3
Heavenly Father, search my heart. Find anything in me that is offensive, and help me remove it from my life. Lead me to live a life that draws people to you. Help me live my life on earth in a way that impacts eternity.


This post was written by Lydia Snyder. Lydia has been a story-lover for as long as she can remember, often found reading books or writing. She is thrilled to be making a difference by inspiring others to take part in the best story ever – God’s story. Lydia lives with her three wonderful siblings and two amazing parents.


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Did I Say That Right? – Why Prayer…

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From the outside, I may look like a picture-perfect Christian. (To any of my friends or family reading this—don’t laugh—I’m talking about the people who are still getting to know me.) Between studying Scripture, the gift of words God has given me, and the fact I work at a church, where I’m constantly surrounded by godly people and spiritual teaching, I’m pretty good at knowing the right things to say. I don’t think that’s a bad thing—Proverbs has a lot to say about the importance of words and what we say.

Proverbs 18:21
The tongue can bring death or life; those who love to talk will reap the consequences.

However, one place where having “the right words” can get me into trouble is during prayer.

Sometimes, we (myself included) fall into this habit of talking to God the way we might talk to a teacher, where everything we say goes through a filter: “What does he want me to say? What’s the answer he’s looking for me to give?” Or, if we don’t think we have the “right answer,” we just choose not to say anything to him at all.

I’m here to tell you today, God’s not looking for you to give him the “right answer.”

Psalm 139:1-4
1 O Lord, you have examined my heart. 2 You know when I sit down or stand up. You know my thoughts even when I’m far away. 3 You see me when I travel and when I rest at home. You know everything I do. 4 You know what I am going to say even before I say it, Lord [emphasis added].

God is omniscient, meaning he is all-knowing. He already knows everything about me—and you. He knows what we choose to tell him; he knows what we don’t tell him. He knows the things we’re ashamed to admit or worried he won’t understand. He can handle it all—our anger, sorrow, disappointment, and all the things we’re afraid to ask for.

There are things in my life I’ve been afraid to ask for, as well as frustrations and disappointments that I’ve been afraid to admit to God. But when I realized God already knows all of it, that I can be completely honest and vulnerable with him about how I’m feeling, my prayer life changed—in a way that, sometimes, isn’t pretty.

I’ve had prayers where I’m sobbing, prayers where I’m yelling, prayers where I’m broken, knowing that God loves me but questioning why certain things are the way they are.

And honestly? Those raw, vulnerable, ugly prayers are often the ones that feel the most powerful—the ones that change my heart the most, the ones that help me to see God’s heart better, and, sometimes, the one’s I’ve seen answered in powerful ways.

When you start to know who God is (an all-powerful, all-knowing, and all-loving God), that he sees the real you (all the good and all the mess), and that he loves you through all of it, you realize you don’t have to pretend. You don’t have to have the right answer. So bring it all to God—he can handle it.

Questions:
Are you honest and vulnerable in your prayer life, or do you only try to give the “right answers” to God?

Is there anything you’ve been afraid to admit to or ask for in your prayers?

Next Steps:
Set aside some time to pray honestly to God. You can put it all on the table—he already knows, and he can handle it. It may be helpful to find a trusted, godly friend you can confide in as well, who can speak truth into whatever you’re going through and pray with you.

Check out CedarCreek.tv/21days for prayer resources you can use throughout this season of prayer.

28 Days of Prayer: Day 2
Dear God, you said that the greatest commandment to follow is to love you with all of my heart, soul, and mind. Equally important is to love my neighbors as much as I love myself. As I connect with you over these 28 Days of Prayer, grow my heart so that I will love you more. Then, as my love grows for you, help me to love those around me more and more each day.


This post was written by Payton Lechner. Payton is currently the apprentice copywriter at CedarCreek. In her spare time, she freelances as a writer and editor. Besides the English language, Payton loves swimming, cats, and a good cup of tea.


Check out the Latest LivingItOut Podcast

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God Sees Through Our Prayers – Why Prayer…

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When our youngest son, Jax, was 5 years old, I walked him to his room so we could pray together before bedtime. When his turn came, he closed his eyes, squeezed his hands together, and said, “God, please don’t let Daddy find out I’ve been sneaking water in the middle of the night, and that’s why I pee the bed. Amen.” I held in my laughter, said goodnight, and made sure to cut off the water to his bathroom sink. His prayer suggested a personal moment between him and God, so I never mentioned that closing his eyes didn’t remove me from prayer time.

Even the little ones know that prayer is a powerful, personal, and purposeful way to connect to God. How often do you experience that when you pray? I remember being taught about the power of prayer at each stage in life and people saying we have to ask God for the things we want.

James 4:2
Yet you don’t have what you want because you don’t ask God for it.

Asking God for what we want doesn’t always mean we will get what we asked for. God sees our prayers for what they are.

James 4:3
And even when you ask, you don’t get it because your motives are all wrong—you want only what will give you pleasure.

Bottom Line: The CONTENT of our PRAYERS reveals the QUALITY of our FAITH.

Lead Pastor Ben Snyder mentioned that prayer will never be what it can be when we pray to get more often than we pray to know. All of us are guilty of sending up selfish prayers. Sometimes God does answer our prayers, but our “give me, give me, give me” approach stops us from seeing or hearing his “no.” Reflect on your prayers. It’s not wrong to want things, but we should focus more on what matters when we pray. When you want what’s good for you, understand that God ALWAYS wants what’s best for you.

Questions:
Do you only pray for yourself and the things you want out of life? Do you only pray in times of distress? Do you thank God for answered prayers?

Next Steps:
Start a prayer journal. Over time, look back and notice which prayers received answers and how your prayers changed. Start your day in prayer to create a good habit going forward. Make a list of people who need prayer.

Join Lead Pastor Ben Snyder as he leads Morning Prayer. You can participate by visiting any of our church’s social media accounts: Facebook, Instagram and YouTube.

28 Days of Prayer: Day 1
Dear God, you have promised if I draw near to you, you will draw near to me. I need more of your presence today. I am drawing near to you through prayer, worship, and your Word. I open my heart to you and ask you to be near to me, growing me to be more like you.


This post was written by Jaron Camp, a regular contributor to the LivingItOut Bible Study.


Check out the Latest LivingItOut Podcast

The LivingItOut Podcast is released every Wednesday morning. It discusses key takeaways and principles from the weekend message. Listen to the weekly podcast in your car, during your lunch break, or any other time that works for you. You can find the latest podcast here.


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We would love to hear how the LivingItOut is making a difference in your life. Let us know how today’s post inspired, challenged, or encouraged you by leaving a comment here.


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We are always looking for people who are passionate about writing and proofing to serve on the LivingItOut team. If you are interested, email LIO@cedarcreek.tv today!


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