Thursday, June 01, 2006

FCF Men's Prayer Retreat

Last weekend I attended the Men’s Prayer Retreat put on by our church (Foothill Christian Fellowship). It was an awesome experience. Although this wasn’t my first time at this event, it was still far beyond my expectations. Let me tell you some of what I have learned this weekend.

The theme this year was “Walk as Children of Light”

The theme verse: Psalm 43:3-4
“O send out thy light and Thy truth let them lead me; to thy holy hill, and to thy dwelling places. Then I will go to the alter of God, to God, my exceeding joy; and upon the lyre I shall praise Thee, O God, my God.”

Thursday Night we talked about the Holiness of God. He is light and in him there is no darkness at all, none. He is perfect. We talked about what light is and what it does. What does light do? It uncovers things that are in the dark. So as light, Gods word uncovers things in darkness as well. It reveals to us our sin.

On Friday when we arrived, our first session started at 3:00 in the afternoon. We were sent to spend an hour and a half in private prayer to God. We were encouraged to talk to God and not just about Him in our prayers.

I went to go find a quiet place to pray under some pine trees. It was pretty cold outside so I was crouching down under the trees to keep from being out in the wind. I first started to repent of not spending more time with the Lord in prayer. Then I asked myself why it was that I didn’t. I opened my Bible up to Isaiah 57:13 “When you cry out, let your collection of idols deliver you. But the wind will carry all of them up and a breath will take them away. But he who takes refuge in me will inherit the land and will possess my holy mountain.” This verse really hit me hard because it helped me to realize an issue in my life.

For a while I have been really into gadgets and computers. I wanted a nice laptop and recently my work got me one that was better than I ever anticipated. You would think my desire was fulfilled now. The problem is that since I got it I’ve been wasting a lot of time on it doing things I don’t really need to. If I didn’t do that, and if I used the computer for the things that I originally wanted to get it for (bible study, preparing Sunday school lessons, and organizing AWANA) then I would have been more productive.

If I cry out in my troubles, I want something to happen. I don’t want worthless idols in a situation like that! I want something that is worthwhile, something that is going to help me. What I realized from this verse, is that it was my idols that were keeping me from being a praying man. I need to spend more time in prayer and those things like my computer, movies, more sleep (that I really don’t need) and other things, are keeping me not only from prayer, but also from a better relationship with my wife, from reading my Bible, and from helping others and serving at church and sharing the gospel with the lost. This was a very significant discovery for me. I decided to make a list of things that were maybe keeping me from more worthwhile things. Then I started to really plead with God that he would help me to overcome my worldly desires and my lusting after idols. I prayed that God would help me to have the discipline to overcome those desires and to have a fervent, strong desire to spend more time in prayer.

I read Nehemiah 1:5-11 “I said, “I beseech You, O LORD God of heaven, the great and awesome God, who preserves the covenant and lovingkindness for those who love Him and keep His commandments, let Your ear now be attentive and Your eyes open to hear the prayer of Your servant which I am praying before You now, day and night, on behalf of the sons of Israel Your servants, confessing the sins of the sons of Israel which we have sinned against You; I and my father’s house have sinned. “We have acted very corruptly against You and have not kept the commandments, nor the statutes, nor the ordinances which You commanded Your servant Moses. “Remember the word which You commanded Your servant Moses, saying, ‘If you are unfaithful I will scatter you among the peoples; but if you return to Me and keep My commandments and do them, though those of you who have been scattered were in the most remote part of the heavens, I will gather them from there and will bring them to the place where I have chosen to cause My name to dwell.’ “They are Your servants and Your people whom You redeemed by Your great power and by Your strong hand. “O Lord, I beseech You, may Your ear be attentive to the prayer of Your servant and the prayer of Your servants who delight to revere Your name, and make Your servant successful today and grant him compassion before this man.”

I have not prayed scripture much in my whole life, but these verses came so alive to me that I just started to pray them as I read them. I prayed that God would forgive me for my lack of self-discipline and to truly pursue holiness in a totally dedicated manner.

Oh God, I want to be a praying man. I don’t want to be distracted by the things of this world and kept from loving and serving you as I ought. God please help me to be a praying man. Please hear my prayer and answer me according to it. God, I need your strength to change and to be strong. I want to be your servant. Please help me to put away the things that distract me. I know that it will be hard. I know that it will be painful. But God, do whatever it takes to draw me closer to you. That is what I want more than anything else on earth. That is what I truly desire. Psa. 73:25 “Whom have I in heaven but thee? and there is none upon earth that I desire beside thee.” Oh God, I want you. You are all I need. And Please help me to lead my family in prayer and devotion to you as your son and as one who is totally and completely yours. I want to know you. I want to be like you.

This was the core of what God taught me over the weekend. I need the word of God to shed the light of truth on my life to expose my sin (show me that I am being distracted from God by lusting after various idols and giving my time to them rather than to God). Next I need to acknowledge that sin and repent of it (recognize my idols and get rid of them). Then I need to go in the opposite direction striving toward serving God, praying to Him, and doing the things that He would want me to do like spend time with my wife and with the Lord rather than on my computer or PDA. I need to use the scripture not only to confront my sin but also for positive direction and hope. Scripture shows me what is wrong in my life and also what I need to focus on.

2Tim. 3:16-17 All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.

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