Prayer

How to Grow Wisdom

  • 23 November 2017
  • Keith Reed

Michelangelo's Creation of AdamThe alarm on my phone goes off every afternoon at 1:05, serving as my daily reminder to pray for wisdom. This idea came from Mark Wessner, MB Seminary President, who chose the time because of its closeness to James 1:5 which says, "If anyone lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all and without finding fault, and it will be given to you." 

If you want to become wiser, praying to receive wisdom is the logical first step. But there are additional ways we can develop wisdom and help others do the same. Here are some suggestions for growing greater wisdom in your life. 

Pray for Wisdom

Asking for wisdom is the very foundation of wisdom. Praying for wisdom is an honest confession that greater insight and perspective is needed before being able to act with proper understanding. This request requires humility and earnestness and shows reverence for God from whom wisdom flows.

The wisest people I know are the same people who continually ask God for wisdom. And yet, those who need wisdom the most are the ones who despise it (Proverbs 1:7). This contrast goes beyond irony―it is the distinguishing mark between the foolish and the wise. The wise look beyond themselves but the eyes of the foolish see only themselves.

Key verses: James 1:5; 1 Kings 3; Proverbs 1:7
Possible next step: remind yourself to pray for wisdom by setting an alarm for 1:05.  

Study the Bible

Wisdom flows from God's character and represents His knowledge and understanding. We encounter wisdom when we encounter God. Reading and meditating on God's Word allows us to soak in God's thoughts so His perspective becomes our own.

4 Ways to Strengthen Your Small Group

  • 30 September 2017
  • Randy Wollf

small group
Have you ever wondered why some small groups thrive while others spin their wheels? Have you ever asked yourself what it would take to take move your group into a healthier position?

Jim Egli and Dwight Marable have discovered that groups that see people accept Christ, increase in size, and multiply into additional groups have four things in common. Their book called Small Groups - Big Impact: Connecting People to God and One Another in Thriving Groups outlines these commonalities. Let's take a look at each factor:  

Prayer

The study found that 83% of groups that had a leader who modelled and facilitated prayer saw someone come to Christ in the past nine months (versus 19% of groups that did not have a praying leader). Praying leaders spend time with God. They actively pray for group members and group meetings. They pray for unsaved people in their lives and in the lives of others within the group. As the leader and others in the group engage in a lifestyle of prayer, people sense God’s presence in the group. Life change happens. People get saved. Who wouldn’t want to be part of that kind of group?

Outreach

When group leaders and their groups have an outreach focus, they are much more likely to see people come to Christ. The study found that 90% of groups with this kind of focus saw someone come to Christ in the last six months (versus 11% of groups without this outreach emphasis). In the book, Egli and Marable talk about the five I’s of reaching out: 

    • Investment - Members spend time with friends in order to share Christ
    • Invitation – Leaders encourage members to invite others
    • Intention - Outreach is a stated purpose of the group
    • Intercession – Group members pray during their meetings for unsaved friend 
    • Imitation - Leaders model relational outreach

If we want to grow our small groups, outreach needs to be an important part of group life.

Care

Personal Handpicked Provision

  • 13 September 2017
  • MinistryLift blogger

Many of us search for ways to better hear the voice of God's Spirit in our lives. It's no different if you are an experienced leader or a stay-at-home mom. That's been my experience as I look over the landscape of my prayer life as an experienced leader and as a stay-at-home mom. Recently I had opportunity to lead my daughter in hearing the counsel of God's Spirit. This is her story, my distraction, and our Father's faithful provision for both of us. 

It was Monday morning and my 12-year-old daughter awoke in tears. We had lots of Monday mornings all summer but this one was different. This was the Monday before the Friday she was scheduled to have surgery. Neither of us wanted this to happen, but the closer Friday came the sharper in focus was this reality. Those Monday morning tears now make perfect sense to me. 

I wanted to comfort her, but I felt my skills and resources were too limited. I wanted to whisk her away from all the turmoil maybe even more than she wanted to be delivered from the pending surgery. I knew this was a perfectly shaped set of circumstances for God's Spirit to speak to her in ways that only He knew how.

We took time to remind ourselves of some very important truths—Jesus is always with us, the Holy Spirit is our comfort and our counsel, and how wonderfully loved we are by our Heavenly Father. I didn't recognize it at the time, but these truths were for me too. From there I invited her to share her heart with Jesus—her fears, her disappointments, her questions—and invite Him to speak to her as she listened. This is what many call listening prayer. Whatever the label, I knew my daughter needed to hear for herself the words of life that only He authors.

We often do this listening and sharing on the "outside"—talking and responding to one another as we discern the Spirit's presence and counsel and then process the message together. Today, she would listen on the “inside”—just her and Jesus. This is a double-edged discipline for me. On the one hand, I'm free to patiently wait for the results of my daughter's listening. But on the other hand, I have no opportunity to be tracking the twists and turns. This was a faith exercise as much for me at it was for her.

Her inside listening lasted a long time. Longer than I was comfortable with. I thought maybe she had fallen back to sleep. But she was listening and God's Spirit was speaking. Finally, she shared with me. Mom, I have a thought. The nurse who was supposed to be in the ward to check me in won't be available and then (our good friend who is a nurse) would be there!

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