While I had just come back to faith and was starting to grow in my home church, First Baptist Church Murfreesboro, I had never envisioned going to seminary. In need of spiritual growth and understanding, everything pointed me in that direction; however, our family is a single income family with four children. My job was crucial and I could not see how I could possibly attend seminary.
Just when I thought that there was no hope, I was surprised by a flyer about a seminary that would be housed in my church. I found out that classes would be done in intensives on Friday night and Saturday and that the tuition was subsidized through the generosity of grants. I finally got it all together and started my seminary journey at Central Baptist Theological Seminary - Tennessee.
This format allowed me to complete my degree without missing any work or taking too much time away from my family. At the same time, I was able to develop an understanding of how to apply the skills from seminary to my sense of calling as a marketplace minister and allowed me to find ways to execute this ministry. After completion of seminary, my home church ordained me and blessed me in this calling.
I am extremely grateful for Central for the work it has done in my life by providing a thought provoking broad theological education.
Resources for Your Ministry (APRIL): Teach us to Pray
Dr. Amy Harris Hartsfield
Counselor and Assessment Coordinator
Director of the create Program
I am fascinated at how often I experience the vast disconnect between knowing and doing. Ican even extend that to not only knowing and doing but also wanting, promoting and doing. As a Christian I am a fervent believer in prayer and the wonder‐working, miracle‐producing power of prayer. I have experienced it personally as well as witnessed its effect on others.
That said, it would seem logical that a major practice in every Christian’s life would be prayer.
PRAYING WITHOUT CEASING
Paul in his letter to the church of Thessalonica admonishes the believers to "pray without ceasing" (1 Thessalonians 5:17). Realizing the varying conditions of life that persons encounter daily, Paul understood the necessity of believers to engage in a disciplined practice of prayer as a means of relating to God's presence, God's power, and God's providence. Paul, through his own experiences of being encouraged, enabled and sustained in the midst of physical, emotional, and spiritual trials, as well as imprisonment, testifies to God's ability and willingness to hear and answer prayer. For Paul, prayer was a necessary discipline strengthened by constant usage. Life, in and of Itself, provided him motivation to pray. When life conditions were favorable—Paul praised God for God's goodness. When life conditions were challenging—Paul petitioned God for grace and strength. Constantly Paul acknowledged God—related to God—prayed to God.
REGARDLESS OF PLACE OR POSITION
Prayer for Paul was not always deliberate audible words addressed to God, or a ritual restricted to a kneeling position, with head bowed, eyes closed, and hands clasped together. Regardless of the place or the position, prayer always consisted of being aware of God's presence, power, and provision and desiring to be pleasing to God in thoughts and actions. Prayer allowed Paul to relate to, to rest in, and to rely on God.
The disciples of Jesus also knew firsthand of the wondrous effects of a believer's prayer. Countless times they witnessed healings and miracles following Jesus' acknowledgement of God's presence, power, and provision through prayer. So impressed were they at the difference in outcome they experienced when they prayed, they requested of Jesus, "Lord, teach us to pray as John taught his disciples to pray." (Luke 11:1b). This is the only request of the disciples for instruction from Jesus recorded in the New Testament. It appears the disciples realized that there was more to praying than what they had been doing and they desired to be as effective as Jesus. Thanks be to God, Jesus shared their desire that they become effective in their prayer and responded by providing them a model prayer we today commonly refer to as the Lord's Prayer (Matthew 6 & Luke 11).
A PRAYER FOR YOU AND ME
I believe today, we, like Paul and the disciples, desire to be disciplined and effective in our prayers. We too seek tocontinuously acknowledge God's presence and experience God's power and provision. I pray for you and for me :
Lord, teach us to pray.
Lord, help us become more disciplined in our prayer life.
Lord, enable us to pray without ceasing.
- Celebration of Discipline by Richard Foster
- Disciples of the Spirit by Howard Thurman
- Too Deep for Words by Thelma Hall