Prayer works best when it's put to practice
___Editor's note: This is the first in a series of articles on prayer drawn from the Glorieta Prayer Conference, sponsored by the Baptist General Convention of Texas evangelism division and LifeWay Conference Center at Glorieta. Look for the "Teach Us to Pray" logo over the coming weeks for additional articles in the series.
___By Mark Wingfield
___GLORIETA, N.M.--Talk about prayer is cheap, but actually doing the costly work of prayer is what brings results, speakers said during the Glorieta Prayer Conference Aug. 1-5.
___"We talk a lot about praying, but how much do we actually pray?" asked Gary Dyer, pastor of First Baptist Church of Midland, in the conference's first session.
___In that session and the four additional days of the conference, about 200 participants in the first-ever conference of this type at Glorieta not only learned practical ways to make a difference in prayer but spent time in focused prayer.
___In small-group seminars and in corporate worship times, the group of mostly Texans knelt in prayer, rose up in praise and often wept as they shared prayer concerns and interceded on behalf of a world of needs.
___In one small-group session on praying for a prodigal child, led by Rick and Tracy Lineberger of Grapevine, participants spontaneously ended the session in an emotional time of prayer.
___After the planned presentation, Rick Lineberger called the group together for a closing prayer. But before the prayer began, one woman raised her hand to ask specific prayer for her child who has wandered away from the Christian faith. Then another called out the name of a prodigal child, and another and another, until Lineberger had written down a list of nearly a dozen names.
___The group then put into practice what they had just learned, weeping as they prayed for God to protect these prodigal children, lead them into godly relationships and bring them back to the faith of their families.
___Similar experiences happened each night in the Glorieta chapel as leaders guided worshipers through extended times of prayer for families, government leaders, non-Christians, church leaders and other specific groups.
___The evening sessions also featured extended time of praise and worship music, led by the praise team of Harvest Baptist Church in Wautaga. Preachers in the evening sessions were Dyer; Lineberger, pastor of First Baptist Church of Grapevine; and Duane Brooks, pastor of Tallowood Baptist Church in Houston.
___Morning Bible studies on spiritual warfare were led by D.L. Lowrie, pastor of First Baptist Church of Lubbock.
___Dyer reminded the group that they didn't need to go home and start "a bunch of new organizations" as a result of attending the conference. Rather, the proof of their experience would be found in their improved prayer lives, he said.
___"It is a simple matter of priority. If you want to mobilize for prayer, you will," Dyer said.
___Pastors and laypeople alike struggle to make prayer a priority, he confessed. "Typically, preachers like me are much more versed in telling people how they ought to pray than in doing it ourselves."
___But even Christians who feel inadequate to the task of prayer can make a difference in prayer, he said, because "we know the power of prayer."
___Dyer urged Texas Baptists to become like the early church, which prayed with Peter and John in Jerusalem until the house where they were meeting was shaken (Acts 4).
___These early Christians were unintimidated in their praying, he said.
___When faced with opposition from the Jewish leaders in Jerusalem, they didn't start a boycott or a petition drive protesting the poor treatment of believers, Dyer explained. "Instead, they prayed."
___They also were undivided in their prayer, he added, noting, "The church family that prays together stays together."
___Finally, the early Christians were unselfish in their prayer, Dyer said, explaining they didn't pray only to get out of trouble. "Earth-shaking prayer is unselfish enough to take on more trouble if needed."
___Such a commitment to prayer will restore the passion missing in the lives of many Christians and churches, Lineberger said in a later message.
___"There are no gimmicks; there are no shortcuts to victory in the Christian life," he said. "If passion is missing from your life ... it would have to be because passion is missing from your prayer life."
___When Christians become passionate about prayer, they will find their relationship with God takes priority over their service for God, Lineberger said.
___This connection with God's Spirit through prayer is the only thing that will make a difference in America's cities and towns, Brooks said in his message based on the Old Testament account of Ezekiel praying for God to breathe life into a valley of dry bones.
___To bring life into a dead world, Christians first must be full of life themselves, he said.
___"It's easy for us to look at our world and say they're dead," Brooks explained. "But we cannot bring the world to life if we're dead ourselves.
___"We are dead when we have more memories of the past than vision for the future," he said, calling Texas Baptists to dream again about the possibilities of God's future.
___Any vision for God's future must be received from God himself, said Minette Drumwright in one of 20 small-group sessions offered during the conference. Drumwright, who now lives in Fort Worth, retired as coordinator of prayer ministries for the Southern Baptist International Mission Board.
___"Prayer begins with God," she declared. "Prayer is his idea. Prayer is our response to God's initiative.
___"Have you ever thought of God having prayer requests for us?" she said, adding that the most effective prayers are those prompted by God's Spirit in the mind of the believer. "The question is, Are we listening?"
___Prayer is the "most crucial work" a Christian can do, Drumwright said. "And it is work."
___Through prayer, God builds a relationship with his children and demonstrates his glory, she said.
___"The most important thing about prayer is not prayer. The most important thing about prayer is God and his glory."
___Ultimately, people of seasoned prayer will find their lives molded into God's desire, Drumwright said.
___ "God does not just answer our prayers; he answers our lives."
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