Prayer and Spiritual Gifts
Prayer and spiritual gifts are two ways that I can raise my daily standards and live my earthly life with heavenly standards (Towns, p. 63). Prayer is my communication with God. Spiritual gifts come from the power of God and are released to help me serve others.
“…True prayer is measured by weight, not by length. A single groan before God may have more fullness of prayer in it than a fine oration of great length.” C. H. Spurgeon
a. Theological Definition
As a believer I must learn how to carry on a conversation with God and how to approach Him with my requests. Prayer can be a powerful force that can move mountains when I believe. It is not based on the person praying, but rather on God the one to which we are praying. The Bible gives specific verses on just about every aspect of prayer. I always like to go back and study the original language that the Bible was written in which for the New Testament was Greek. One Greek word for prayer is proseuche which is actually two words: pros which means face to face and euche which can mean a desire, wish or vow. Another Greek word for prayer or petitions is deesis which is translated into a need or want. Lets look at the verse in Ephesians 6:18 in Greek: “dia pasEs proseuchEs kai deEseOs proseuchomenoi en panti KairO en pneumati kai eis auto touto agrupnountes en pasE proskarteEsei kai deEsei peri pantOn tOn hagiOn.” The rough translation being: “Thru prayer (proseuchEs) and petiton (deEseOs) praying (proseuchomenoi) in every season in spirit and into same this being-vigilant in every toward-holding and petition about all of the Holy ones.” The importance of the meaning of bringing our prayers (proseuchEs) or coming to God face to face and bringing our desires or vows to Him and petition (deEseOs) which means to bring our needs or wants before God. There are other Greek words about prayer such as erōtaō which is Greek for either a question or a request. It is based on asking a person to do something as opposed to the Greek word Aiteō, which is translated also as asking but for something to be given rather than done. As I look into this topic I realize that this reaching out to God in prayer is how I became saved. I prayed for God to forgive me from my sins a course concept that states sin is disobedience of God. This initial contact is the most important part of any prayer life. That contact with God saying yes, I am a sinner, but you died on the cross and rose again and took all this on yourself to save me. Prayer is how I personally talk to God by bringing my sins, praise, thanksgiving, and needs to Him.
b. Biblical Foundation:
Jesus on the runway.
We always say we want to grow to be more like Jesus so let’s look to Him as our model on how to pray. Through the course concept of illumination of the scriptures I have seen the intimate relationship Jesus kept with the Father while on earth through prayer. When Jesus was on earth he was always looking to the Father for guidance, wisdom and strength to accomplish His mission here on earth. In Luke 6:12 is says He went out to the mountain to pray and prayed all night before choosing His disciples, Jesus prayed at His baptism (Luke 3:21), when he fed the 5,000 he looked to heaven and gave thanks, even in the Garden of Gethsemane and on the cross he prayed to the Father. He depended on God the Father for as it says in John 15:5 apart from God you can do nothing and who knew this better than Jesus Himself even though He was God. Even the disciples recognized that Jesus kept a daily intimate fellowship with God and one asked in Luke 11:1-4 “Lord, teach us to pray…” to which Jesus replied taught them the Lord’s Prayer. Jesus knew the importance of prayer and that communication with God was vital in His everyday life and mission.
Ask, Seek, Knock
Even though God knows us and our hearts he doesn’t want to impose His will on us so we have to ask Him for our needs and wants. Nothing is too big or too small to take to our heavenly Father. According to James 4:2-3 it says we don’t have because we don’t ask. When we do ask we should ask in confidence as in Hebrews 4:16 which states for us to approach the throne of grace with confidence. 1 John 3:21-22 says “we have confidence before God and receive from Him anything we ask.” God gives us good things when we ask. According to Matthew 7:11 “how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him?” 1 John 5:14-15 says we should ask God according to His will.
All I want for Christmas
We all think of prayer as coming to God and asking for our needs and it is to a point. As pointed out so many times we use this as an excuse to ask for things that would not be in our best interests, such as lots of money, or a certain person to marry. I think of it as Santa’s list or what I want for Christmas list. Although we think these might be in our best interests, God knows what is best for us and our future. We can always ask, but if it is not in God’s perfect will for us we will not receive. I think of the song by Garth Brooks “I Thank God for Unanswered Prayers” for sometimes what we think we want or need isn’t really what we want or need. At that moment it may seem like the best for us, but God sees down the road at what really is best for us.
c. Practical applications
Going Into the Closet
I designate a specific time for one on one prayer with God. I get alone with God out of the public eye where I can talk to Him but also listen for what He wants to say to me. God says to make your prayers private. There are times when I need to get a way and concentrate on just praying for the needs of my brothers and sisters as well as myself.
How Can I Be Holy if If I’ve Lost My List?
I make a prayer list. I pray for the needs of others as well as myself. Be specific, pray in faith for the answer instead of the problem. If mine becomes too long to pray for all at one time, I break it up into categories and pray for my family one day, my country the next and so on.
God Is My Valet
I always remember to thank and praise God. Every time something good happens I always look to heaven and thank my heavenly Father for the good things he has done. It all started with a parking space. When I would go to the store I would always pray for a good parking space because I live in Oregon and didn’t want to walk in the rain. At first I was skeptical, but when I started to receive I always praised the Lord. Now in little or big victories I always praise him.
Weights to Grow my Faith Muscles
Keep an answer to prayer journal. This helps build your course concept of faith when prayers are answered. It challenges the blind faith theory by having your own set of proofs to what the Lord is doing and how he is faithful (Etzel and Gutierrez p. 10). I look back and see all the times God has answered my prayers or given me an insight to something that happened later on in my life. I can see God working and my faith grows stronger and stronger.
Knees are an option.
I always pray continually throughout the day. When I’m in the car, at the grocery store, or at work I am always be talking to God, thanking Him and praising Him keeping that connection with the Father throughout the day. As I was driving one day, singing and praising the Lord I looked up into the clouds and thought at that moment if God returned to earth I would be transported to heaven and it would not be some dramatic change, but rather a continuance of what I was already doing here on earth.
III. Spiritual Gifts
a. Theological Definition
God has given me a mission and with that mission He has made available His spiritual gifts to accomplish that mission. Their are so many different spiritual gifts and God can give me access to each and every one if he so chooses. These gifts are to help to serve others and can be released through me by God whenever the opportunity presents itself. It is different from natural talents, but not separate from them with the result of spiritual fruit being produced. My job is to learn what my spiritual gifts are, how to use them and then rely on the Holy Spirit to help me use them to bring glory to Him.
b. Biblical Foundation
“We have different gifts, according to the grace given us. If a man’s gift is prophesying, let him use it in proportion to his faith. If it is serving, let him serve; if it is teaching, let him teach; it it is encouraging, let him encourage; if it is contributing to the needs of others, let him give generously; if it is leadership, let him govern diligently; if it is showing mercy, let him do it cheerfully.” Romans 12:6-9
As service is the foundation of all ministry, my spiritual gifts are very important to leading others to Christ as well as carrying out our function in the body of believers. I am not to operate under my own wisdom and power, but with the empowering of the Holy Spirit. When we operate under the Spirit since it is the same Spirit, he distributes the gifts as he determines to distribute them (1 Corinthians 12:11). He equips His people for works of service so that the body of Christ my be built up (Ephesians 4:12). By using my spiritual gifts I fulfill the two greatest commandments: to love God with all your of heart, soul and mind and to love others as yourself as well as the Great Commission to go and make disciples of all the world (Etzel and Gutierrez p. 177-183). This course concept teaches us that the heart is the very core of who we are. So we love God when we do His will and His will is to bring others to Him as well as to serve those in need physically or spiritually which we can do when using our spiritual gifts. He has revealed through His Word the special revelation of these gifts to mankind. Everyday even though I know the right thing to do and feel that it is the right decision to grow and use my spiritual gifts I must make a my will do the right thing by actually acting on on such knowledge (Etzel and Gutierrez p. 78).
c. Practical Application
No Studying necessary
There are so many different kinds of spiritual gift test online as well as in church. I have taken several over the years and discovered and used my gifts as God has directed. I have noticed over the years that some gifts have become stronger and some weaker.
May I take your order?
I have read the scriptures that pertain to my specific gifts. One such gift and my favorite is helps or service (Romans 12:6-7). I love to release my gifts behind the scenes to help those who are needy. My willingness is to serve anywhere that is needed just as Christ did.
Phone a friend
If I find a gift that I am not sure of I ask my pastors and elders for help in developing them. They are there to help raise up and develop leaders to send out into the world. This is their calling and I should not be afraid to ask for direction and guidance from fellow believers especially one in full time ministry. Once trained I can confidentially and obediently use my gifts to bless others.
I picked these two topics because I feel that they are intertwined. I must maintain my prayer life or my communication with God on a daily basis to be in contact with the Holy Spirit to release my spiritual gifts to those who need them. It is only through communication with God that I can truly reach others not from my own power but through the power of the Holy Spirit and touch others and fulfill my mission for God here on earth.