Personal Prayer – 30 August 2015

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Rev’d Jonathan Gale


Song of Solomon 2: 18 – 13

Springtime Rhapsody

8 The voice of my beloved!
Look, he comes,
leaping upon the mountains,
bounding over the hills.
9 My beloved is like a gazelle
or a young stag.
Look, there he stands
behind our wall,
gazing in at the windows,
looking through the lattice.
10 My beloved speaks and says to me:
‘Arise, my love, my fair one,
and come away;
11 for now the winter is past,
the rain is over and gone.
12 The flowers appear on the earth;
the time of singing has come,
and the voice of the turtle-dove
is heard in our land.
13 The fig tree puts forth its figs,
and the vines are in blossom;
they give forth fragrance.
Arise, my love, my fair one,
and come away.


James 1: 1 – 11


James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ,

To the twelve tribes in the Dispersion:


Faith and Wisdom

 My brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of any kind, consider it nothing but joy, because you know that the testing of your faith produces endurance; and let endurance have its full effect, so that you may be mature and complete, lacking in nothing.

If any of you is lacking in wisdom, ask God, who gives to all generously and ungrudgingly, and it will be given you. 6But ask in faith, never doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, driven and tossed by the wind; 7, 8 for the doubter, being double-minded and unstable in every way, must not expect to receive anything from the Lord.

Poverty and Riches

Let the believer who is lowly boast in being raised up, 10 and the rich in being brought low, because the rich will disappear like a flower in the field. 11 For the sun rises with its scorching heat and withers the field; its flower falls, and its beauty perishes. It is the same with the rich; in the midst of a busy life, they will wither away.


Mark 14: 3 – 9

The Anointing at Bethany

While he was at Bethany in the house of Simon the leper,* as he sat at the table, a woman came with an alabaster jar of very costly ointment of nard, and she broke open the jar and poured the ointment on his head. But some were there who said to one another in anger, ‘Why was the ointment wasted in this way? For this ointment could have been sold for more than three hundred denarii,* and the money given to the poor.’ And they scolded her. But Jesus said, ‘Let her alone; why do you trouble her? She has performed a good service for me. For you always have the poor with you, and you can show kindness to them whenever you wish; but you will not always have me. She has done what she could; she has anointed my body beforehand for its burial. Truly I tell you, wherever the good news* is proclaimed in the whole world, what she has done will be told in remembrance of her.’



Michelle posed a question on Facebook a few weeks ago. She asked, “If you made it to the Pearly Gates and found yourself actually speaking to God, what would you say to him?”

Well, as you can imagine, a host of people jumped in with all manner of responses, and their answers revealed what they believed about God. If someone sees God as a stern figure they would probably expect a stern conversation. If they saw God as abundantly loving and forgiving the conversation would run along those lines.


If you actually believe right now in this life on earth that God exists, created the universe, is always present and listening, will welcome you into his presence when you die; what will be the one thing you do?

Now there could be all sorts of answers to this question too but surely the most common response would be, “Speak to him!”


If there is one thing God is, it’s a communicator. He created with words – in the creation story in Genesis God said, “Let there be light”, and there was light, Jesus is referred to in John’s Gospel as “The Word made flesh,” and he has left us his Word in the Scriptures. God loves to speak to us and he loves to hear from us.

So why don’t we pray more? That question can hang in the air for a while.


In our gospel reading we see a woman pouring expensive perfume on Jesus’ feet and a few self-righteous people getting angry. “The money could have been given to the poor!” they say.

Well, yes it could have, but this woman is making a statement. She is letting Jesus know, she is communicating that he is the most important thing to her and Jesus praises her for that.

One of our precious commodities is time. When we don’t pray we are in effect saying that God is not that important to us. “I’d rather give my time to the poor!” might be the modern equivalent.

Those who complained about the so-called waste of perfume had no idea of how important Jesus was. When we deny God our time in prayer we are in effect saying the same thing.


Prayer is a discipline. It is not easy. I recall listening to a sermon by Jerry Savelle where he described how he tried to get up early each day to pray, but no matter what he tried he kept falling asleep. Eventually he found the most uncomfortable place he could think of – the bath tub – but he fell asleep there too. It was only when he resorted to standing on the edge of the bath that he managed to keep awake.

Prayer takes disciplione.


Now before we think that prayer is only about duty, let me say this: Prayer reminds me of that reluctance we sometimes have about getting into the water at the beach.

At first it’s all about how cold it’s going to be but once we’re in the water catching waves, larking about with our family or friends it’s all joy.

Our reading from Song of Songs begins:

8 The voice of my beloved!
Look, he comes,
leaping upon the mountains,
bounding over the hills.
9 My beloved is like a gazelle
or a young stag.

I think it’s pretty clear the lover is looking forward to the encounter. She is so enamoured by the idea of her lover’s arrival she describes him in exaggerated terms. When we look forward to meeting with God there is nothing sweeter. Now I have never been fond of the word “sweet” to describe God. It reminds of a “Jesus is my boyfriend” attitude. But there really is no better way of describing and earnest and loving encounter with God. It holds within it that combination of overwhelming beauty and love.


I remember during my first few years at university fare-welling our Old Testament professor, one Victor Bredenkamp, and quietly scoffing when he received a present of a book with the words, “I’ve always said that the true pleasures in life were spiritual and intellectual.”

“Yeah, right,” I thought, but he was correct! Not that I at the age of twenty-one could see that.
10 My beloved speaks and says to me: ‘Arise, my love, my fair one, and come away’

Every morning when we open our eyes, the gentle voice of Christ says ‘Arise, my love, my fair one,  and come away’

There is no day like the day that begins with personal prayer. Setting aside time to pray first thing in the morning is the start to a champagne day. There is no religious practice to beat it because the one thing Jesus, our beloved, wants is to speak with us each day.


If you have not done this before, start now and I promise you it will revolutionalise your life.


And it is so because any relationship grows when the couple spend time together. If a couple ignore each other, something is wrong.

This is so because the essential ingredient in any relationship with God is love, and we all know from 1 Corinthians 13 how important love is.


I’m going to spend a brief while now going through a suggested format for a morning time of personal prayer and I’m going to use the pneumonic ACTS.


Pray with A.C.T.S.

While prayer is first and foremost an awareness of God and there is no formula for prayer, there are some helpful patterns to follow. Prayer is speaking to and listening to God, much as one would speak or listen to a loving parent.

A.C.T.S. is an easy way to remember key elements of prayer. It’s simply prayer in four parts:



Adoration is an act of praise and worship. Adoring the Lord means offering him the affections of your heart and paying honour to him for who he is, his power, wisdom, strength, goodness, mercy and love.

And we can use scripture verses to help us pray.

  • Deut 10:20-21 1 Chron 16:23-25 Psalm 9:1-2 Psalm 66:1-4
  • Deut 32:4 Nehemiah 9:5-6 Psalm 57:9-11 Psalm 71:14-24
  • 2 Samuel 7:22 Psalm 7:17 Psalm 63:1-7 Psalm 146:1-6

Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers can separate me from your love.” Romans 8:38

Praying the verse – You are a loving God. You are constantly by my side in every walk of life. Wherever I go, you are there waiting to show yourself to me.

Adoration“Praise be to God!” -Psalms 68:35
Adoration is expressing love for God for who God is. Tell God how much you appreciate him. Express your love for him. Praise his power and majesty. This is a great way to begin your prayer time. Sometimes I watch the sun rise, and praise God for the beauty of His creation. You should never run out of praise because there is so much that elicits adoration for God. It would be strange if there were not! “How awesome are your deeds!” -Psalms 66:3



In the act of confession you are asking God to remove your old, sinful ways of living. I recall here the story of Jesus washing the disciples’ feet. Peter wanted more than his feet washed but Jesus said that if you’ve bathed you only need a foot-wash. If we are washed in the blood of Christ we need only ‘wash’ off the little dusty sins – perhaps an uncharitable attitude – that we have picked up along the way.

God is faithful and just to forgive sins. Through confession we are made new and more like Jesus. When you repent of a specific area, ask God to clothe you in the opposite (i.e. – ask for joy instead of depression)

  • 2 Samuel 24:10 Psalm 38:17-18 Psalm 130:1-4 Jonah 2:1-10
  • Psalm 25:6 Psalm 51:1-10 Isaiah 1:18-20 1 John 1:8-10
  • Psalm 32:3-5 Psalm 103:8-14 Isaiah 59:12-13

“Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” Romans 12:2

Praying the verse – O God, would you renew my mind. Transform my desires to match that which you desire.

Confession“If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just, and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” -1 John 1:9
Tell Him where you have fallen short. Be specific. I thank Him for the forgiveness I have in Christ, and ask for help and strength to turn away from future temptations.



Thank God for what he has already done in your life and reflect on the many blessings in your life. Thank him for his faithfulness in keeping promises in your life, those of your family and friends, and the circumstances in your life.

  • 2 Samuel 22:48-50 Psalm 23:6 Psalm 69:30 Colossians 4:2
  • 1 Chron 16:8-12 Psalm 50:14 Psalm 95:1,2 Romans 1:21
  • 1 Chron 16:23-26 Psalm 50:23 Psalm 118:28-29 Hebrews 13:15

“You are my God, and I will give you thanks; you are my God, and I will exalt you.” Psalm 118:28-29

Praying the verse – Thank you God, that you are faithful in keeping your promises to me. Thank you for the many blessings you have provided in my life.

Thanksgiving – Always “glorify him with thanksgiving” -Psalms 69:30
You have plenty of reasons to be thankful. Thank God for His love, His faithfulness, His patience and many other things. Express gratitude for what He’s doing in your life. Thank Jesus for dying on the cross for you. Thank the Holy Spirit for indwelling you, and never leaving. Thank Him for being your conscience, your counselor and that “still small voice.”



Ask the Lord to give you the desires of your heart. Align your heart with His will through reading and praying Scripture. Remind God of his promises to you.

  • 1 Chron 4:10 Psalm 62:7-8 Psalm 142 Romans 15:30
  • 2 Chron 20:9 Psalm 116:1-7 Psalm 143:7-12 Ephesians 3:14-21
  • Psalm 18:16-19 Psalm 119:169-170 Matthew 6:9-13 Philippians 4:6-7

Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.” Hebrews 4:16

Praying the verse – I offer up my will to be in line with yours, God. Grant me the desires of my heart, that they may serve your purposes for my life.

Supplication“Make your requests known to God.” -Philippians 4:6
Tell God what you want, no matter how small it seems to you. Do you really think any of your requests are big to God the Creator? You should have lots of intercessory prayer here. Remember: As a Christian, you are committed to pray for your pastor and your church every day.


The practice known as The Quiet Time – personal prayer with God each day –  is often the first thing a new Christian is taught. Where are you in this?


10 My beloved speaks and says to me:
‘Arise, my love, my fair one,
and come away;
11 for now the winter is past,
the rain is over and gone.
12 The flowers appear on the earth;
the time of singing has come,
and the voice of the turtle-dove
is heard in our land.


The beauty of this picture is the beauty we experience in our relationship with Jesus, when we arise first thing in the morning and spend time with him. He longs for us as the beloved longs for his lover. When we rise and go with our beloved, it’s as though Spring has arrived, the flowers appear on the earth; the time of singing has come, and the voice of the turtle-dove is heard in our land.

The woman poured out that which she had upon Jesus and she has been held in remembrance as a result.

Prayer – pouring our innermost selves out upon Jesus – is how we are brought into the mind of God of God, and how the mind of God is given to us.

God bless you.