Sunday Gathering – Prayer – Prayer as a Lifestyle – Neill Wilson
This week we continue our series on prayer, Neill is speaking on "Prayer - Prayer is a Lifestyle"
Neill Wilson's sermon, titled "Prayer as a Lifestyle," delves into the concept of prayer being integrated into daily life in a natural and continuous way. Here are the key points from the sermon:
- Neill Wilson reflects on the significance of the date, November 19th, as it marks the birthday of his late mother and his father's passing, emphasizing the importance of being present during their last moments.
- Drawing from Genesis 2:7 and James 2:26, Wilson discusses the significance of breath and the spirit, linking it to prayer and how naturally it should be incorporated into life.
- He relates prayer to breathing, highlighting its essential nature. Just as breathing is necessary for life, so is prayer for spiritual health.
- Wilson shares personal practices involving prayer, such as his morning routine of reading the Bible while having coffee, integrating prayer into his daily commute by praying for specific individuals or situations he encounters, and using physical activity like swimming or walking as a time for prayer.
- He emphasizes the importance of intentionality in prayer, suggesting written prayers as helpful tools and encouraging finding a routine or method that works best for each individual.
- Psalm 119 is highlighted as a source of inspiration for personal prayer. Wilson shares verses from this Psalm that have resonated with him and turned into personal prayers, encouraging attendees to find verses that speak to them personally.
- The sermon ends with a call to action, inviting attendees to take a wooden baton from a collection as a symbol of a commitment to take their prayer life to the next level and integrate it more deeply into their daily routines.
Wilson's sermon emphasizes prayer not as a separate activity but as an integral part of daily life, encouraging attendees to find personalized ways to incorporate prayer into their routines and to have a consistent dialogue with God throughout the day.
Morning. Morning, 1, 4, 6. This is why I go to 1, 4, 6. Look, they're ice biscuits.
And they serve coffee from the beginning. Not all of you can see this, but behind me there's
a small table with a number of things on it which will become clearer as we go along. And again,
for the benefit of those in 1, 4, 6, there's a younger block tower that will come. Okay, get
you all thinking, won't you? So today we're going to continue our series of prayer and my topic is
prayer as a lifestyle. And I'm sort of what basically the kind of most things I'm going to talk
about is basically how I do it. Now today is the 19th of November, which is a very significant
date for me. It would have been my mum's 99th birthday. No, I'm probably not right. Yes,
on 98th birthday, her birthday was in 19th of November. And she died Christmassy 2013. And then my
dad carried on living and he died on the 19th of November, about 11 months later. So 19th of
November is a significant date to me. And I counted a privilege that actually I was there when they
died. And it was interesting because I literally saw their last breath. In Genesis chapter 2 verse 7 it
says, and the Lord God formed a man from the dust of the ground. He breathed the breath of life
into man's nostrils and he became a living person. Now the Hebrew word for breath is Ruaq. I think
quite a few people know that, which can be translated breath, wind or spirit. And in the book of
James in the New Testament, chapter 2 verse 26, it says, just as the body is dead without the spirit
breath. And then Jesus, when he after his resurrection, he was in a room with the disciples,
John records. And with that, he breathed on them and said, receive the Holy Spirit.
And it was almost as if Jesus was reenacting what happened way back at the very beginning with Adam.
Breathing, it comes naturally to us. You don't have to walk around thinking, right, I must breathe.
And only it comes in issue really, when it becomes difficult or a challenge, both my parents actually
died of pneumonia, which was obviously a challenge to their breathing capacity. Now, as I mentioned
before, and quite a few people know, I go swimming. And I'm one of those people that put their
face into the water. And so I have to be, make sure I breathe. And so I, when I swim, I kind of do
so many strokes, breathe, so many strokes, breathe. And occasionally I try and push myself. So
I'll try and do a length with, say, only two or three breaths, you know, a bit of a challenge.
And you get to that point in the pool, where you can, with your goggles on, you can see the end,
and you've had your last breath you're going to take, and you think, you're going to go,
go, go, go, go, I'm going to do this. And you can almost feel that your body is kind of fighting you.
You've got to breathe. No, I'm going to manage. You're going to breathe. No, I'm going to manage.
I mean, you could say that breathing is a lifestyle.
If you don't do it, you die. So what about prayer?
What if it could become like our breathing?
If we don't breathe, we die. If we don't pray, we, I don't know, I'm leaving that open for you.
So the young guitarist, I presume lots of people have played this. Are you one of those people
when you're playing it that deliberately try and move the blocks away from the bottom?
You know, because at the bottom of the tree, are you the sort of person who thinks like,
go and try and move that one? And that leaves it standing on one, and it wobbles,
to the people who haven't got a chance. See, you know, like any building, it needs a firm foundation.
And I put it to you, prayer is a firm foundation.
So what is prayer? I mean, we've been talking about it now for four or five weeks.
What is it? I think at its simplest, it's a conversation.
And what's involved in communication or conversation talking and listening.
So I'm going to explain a few things that I do in my life.
And I want you to remember that I am, like you, a WIP, a work in progress. So I haven't got
it sorted. So if you're going to make a plan or an effort to put prayer into your life,
like anything you want to do, it has to be intentional. It doesn't just sort of fall in your lap.
I mean, I know lots of us have got hobbies and activities and skills.
We've got kids at home. We've got to get them to do their homework. And it's just developing
that realization that these things doesn't just happen. Prayer doesn't kind of go, you know,
and it has prayed the prayer, make me a prayer, and bang, hey, Presto, there I am.
There is actually an exercise of the will and an effort. So what resources do we have available?
There's one, a huge one, because this book is filled with prayers that everywhere.
And if you ever you were struggling to know what to pray, find the prayers that people pray
in the Bible. I mean, I just get lost in the Psalms. Not everyone enjoys the Psalms,
because to me there's so many verses in the Psalms that can literally be turned into prayers.
And exhibit a minion book. During COVID, because we were all kind of confined to our homes,
I don't know, I've got this idea of writing down prayers. I was brought up in the kind of
Anglican Church, and they have lots of written prayers. And since just in his life goes on,
I start to appreciate some of those written prayers. For all of you who come to Sunday at 4,
we have a written prayer which we read every week. And actually, I find it really helpful.
Because sometimes you come to pray and you're thinking, what am I going to say?
So to have a written prayer, which has a bit of thought behind it helps. So in his book here,
I have a written prayer for each of my wife and for my five children, which left to increase now
because two of them have got married. And it's interesting, but I say there are three years old now,
whenever I go back to it and I think, is that still the prayer I want to pray for them?
And it is. But I've noticed, particularly in this year, I've started,
look, post-its. I've started adding bits on, like the Daniela Nihale, new car.
So written prayers sometimes is good to write them down and have them there.
What my next one. My daily routine. So I am a person who has, again,
quite fixed routines. It's how I live my life. I go from one thing to the next to the next.
I don't like a day where you wake up when you're thinking there's nothing planned.
That's frightening to me. So every morning I get up and go downstairs, make the cup of coffee,
go back upstairs with my coffee, I drink it and I read the Bible. Now people sometimes call this
quiet time, a time with God. But again, it's one of these blocks at the bottom of the tower.
You need to make space in your day where it's best for you because some people are mourning people,
some people are evening people. It doesn't matter how long it is, you need to have, I think,
and I think the Bible will support that, a day, a time in every day where you sit with God
and you're a Bible and you're coffee, what tea. You can't get away from that.
There's something in that discipline and we know from Jesus's life, you know,
he called you Luke very early in the morning, he got up and he went away on his own
to pray, to be with God. I think that's something you just can't get away from.
The next part in my day, so I'm a coffee, my Bible, I get ready, I get in my car and off I go to work.
It's about a 35 minute journey there, about an hour coming back. It's interesting because
I've only been driving to work for the last six years prior to that, I could walk to work,
which is quite useful. And over the time, I don't know why particularly this is worked out,
but I pray in the car. And on certain days of the week, I pray for different things like
Monday, it's Catherine, it's my wife. Tuesday is the five children and their partners.
Wednesday is friends furthered away. And then Thursday and Friday kind of follow one from
what happened on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, or I've got the radio on, there might be something on the
news. And I just have that habit of praying as I go in the car to work. In fact, it becomes such a
habit. When I get in the car and I go somewhere, I almost just want to stop praying regardless
of who's in the car. And over the last six years, it's interesting, I'm a very visual person,
so I'm driving and I see things. And sometimes, I mean, I don't know, I know some people do this,
you see the ambulance, quick prayer. You see the police car, fire engine, or you sit down,
driving along and every day because I'm quite routine. I drive and actually I need to recognize
registrations of the cars who are doing the same thing at the same time as me and going to work.
And then there are people that you think, oh, the bus stop. You see, and you're thinking, these are
individuals. And I pray for them, I don't know who they are. I might never ever see them,
but they are important to God. Another thing which has come along is car registration numbers.
And sometimes you really go, I don't know, this is how my mind works. And sometimes they spell words.
So, jacks, you wouldn't believe it, how many times I've seen a number plate with J-A-X on it.
And so I've gone, well, there's a hint. So I pray for jacks.
The other day, I was driving and quick kind of,
interlude here. I was at work on Tuesday. I made a mistake and I was kind of talk to by my manager.
Talks, kind of. Look, the correct word that was told off. So the next morning I'm driving to work,
he's called Dan. I'm driving to work. I'm going down around about down into
where the old, this is a huge being queue, didn't it, it was all being closed down. I was driving
down there. There's car balls up next to me. And the registration is the word Dan. So I think,
okay, I'll pray for Dan. And it's amazing. It was another time. I was driving onto the motorway and
I was thinking, it was for the holiday club. What can I paint for the holiday club? And this huge
lorry went past and on the side of it was this lion, which I then basically painted it and it was
in there for a while. It's now rolled up somewhere. But it's just, I'm kind of aware. It's made me kind
of aware that there's a world out there. It's there. It's happening. And God can use anything to
get my attention. Next thing, exercise or activity and praying. Now, some people, and my wife's
like to get like a little cozy corner and a chair and a blanket and a nice drink and their
Bible and sort of snuggle down. And that's where they have their prayer time with God.
It doesn't work with me. I try and do that. My mind is,
so I'll go for the walk, go for a swim. I actually get up and do something and walk around.
Some people like to walk the dog and pray. Hoover and pray. Think of that one.
There's all kinds of things. I mean, if ever my two boys at the minute, Michael and John are
from my youngest two, are in Kiverton playing football. And if ever you go to football game and
when you watch the parents, they're all static down the side. Not me. I'm walking and pacing
up and down partly because my insides are turning with the boys on the pitch. But I'm praying.
Yes, I'm praying for the football game. I admit that. And I'm praying that my boys will do well.
But whenever I'm praying, I just can't keep still. So my challenge would be to you is what
works for you. It might be that you like your cozy corner, have a special place. Or you might be
walk the dog and pray, run and pray. My friend, John O'Brien, goes to his spinning class.
And turns to me when he's, you know, his body's actively working away and he prays.
So exercise and prayer.
So prayers are lifestyle. You know, there's quite an annoying verse in the Bible. Well,
actually quite a lot of annoying verses in the Bible. But this one is from Paul says in 1 Thessalonians
517, just two words in that verse. Pray continually. And five of you goes, that's impossible.
I can't pray continually. And I think it's the challenge is we weave the conversation that we have
with God. We weave it and integrate it into all the different aspects of our life.
And you can pray wherever, whenever, however, I think God is quite keen to hear us. He wants that
dialogue. He wants that communication. And this next point, I think, is quite crucial too.
If you think, right, I want to do something about my prayer life. I want to take it up to the next
level. I want to get more serious with it and construct it and develop it. You need some kind of
buddy, prayer buddy, prayer friend. Somebody that you can not necessarily pray with, but that's
useful. But somebody who can be a common asker, I call the awkward question, you know, so how
would you pray a life then, Steve? And I think it's important that we don't think we're going to do
this on our own. It's like our own Christian life. There aren't no loan ranges in the Christian
community. We need each other. And I know some of us, you know, sometimes we find people
are difficult, but we do need people alongside us. It's definitely a team game to use the football
acting team game. So with that in mind, what I'm going to do is, I'm just going to
give you an illustration of what I'm actually doing now in my prayer time. And then I'm not going
to have you sitting here watching or listening to me. You're going to get involved as well.
So at the minute, I'm on Psalm 119, which is quite the longest book in the Bible. And if you know
the Psalm, it's divided into sections, which begin with the different letters of the Hebrew
alphabet or the consecutive letters of the Hebrew alphabet. And as I'm really in through it,
I'm finding there are verses every so often that seem to kind of use this word resonate with me.
They kind of go, that's kind of something that seems to be quite important for me. So
you can get open if you want to, but I don't have to. But verse 36 is one that's resonated recently
with me. And it says in verse 36, I'm bringing you for the NIV, turn my heart towards your statue.
Turn my heart towards your statuettes, not towards selfish gain.
Turn my eyes away from worthless things. Now that's personal to me. That involves a few things
in my own life, which I'm thinking about. And it's interesting that then can become a prayer.
I can pray that father, turn my heart towards your statuettes, your laws, your principles,
your values, and not towards selfish gain, not to be thinking about myself and how I can get
something out of that. And worthless things, I don't know, as I'm getting older in life,
I look around at my life. This is so much stuff in my life. I'm thinking, why have I got that?
What's the point of it? What does it do? I'm going to end up in a minimalist thing.
You keep thinking, what does that function in my life? And so that's one verse that's been
speaking to me. Then verse 66, this verse actually was many, many years ago, I went to be with
a missionary group called Y-1, Youth of the Mission. And when you went into your room on your
bunk bed, someone stuck a verse, just put it up. And it's just, again, it's a verse that's stuck
with me all my life. And the verse says, teach me knowledge and good judgment for I believe in
your commands. And I don't know about you, but knowledge and good judgment, I need it in every
area of my life, everything. There's so many things in my life where I think I need to know about
this, I need more information, I need more understanding, and I need good judgment to make wise
decisions. So that verse really counts from me. And then this one, this is this week's
Hot of the Press. Verse 125 in Psalm 119, I am your servant. That's kind of a
declaration, really, of my relationship to God. Give me discernment that I may understand
your statutes. I need discernment. I don't know about you, but sometimes when I think about myself
and I think about the things that I do in all situations,
increasingly, I feel that my motivation is coming under scrutiny. Why am I doing that?
You know, am I doing it for a selfish gain? Am I doing it so that I can get a bit of a kick out
of it? Why am I doing it? And it's almost like any God to give me understanding of my own
motivations and desires. That's kind of where I am with that verse. So what I'm going to do
and what we're going to do is we're going to have a moment to quiet. Now, I used to be a teacher
many, many years ago. And one of the things we used to do was teaspoon prayers,
looking at me, not quite a teaspoon, but it's got TSP on it. T, thank you. S, sorry, P, please.
Again, under the little help. So what I'm going to ask you to do, we're going to have a
moment to quiet. And I want you to think of, is it something to thank God for? Is it something to say
sorry for? Is it something, please, a request? Okay. I want to think for that for a moment,
have that. And then in your own mind, just make a simple sentence out in your head.
And then we're going to pray them. Now, we're going to pray them quietly in your own head.
So first of all, have a think. Is it something you want to be thankful for?
Something I could say sorry for. It's something that I need. Have a moment.
Okay. Now quietly in your own heart, say that prayer.
Okay. So finally, again, another question to you. And something for you to do again,
just thinking your head in your heart. On a scale of one to ten, how would you rate your prayer
life? And I think sometimes we have to sit down and be honest with ourselves. Could I pray
more often? Have I got a moment in the day? What am I doing when I'm driving the car listening
to the radio or walking the dog or going for that run or hoovering whatever the activity is?
How often do I use the Bible to help me with my prayer life?
And who in my life is asking me that question? Who alongside me is coming and saying,
so how is your prayer life doing? What are you praying for?
So I want to finish with a bit of a response. And 146, you haven't been forgotten?
So in 146, there's a little booklet like this and there's some wooden sticks in it.
But for you lucky people, you've got a younger tower. And what I want we're going to do is we're
going to have a song looking at Steve, a couple of songs. And in that of time, if you think,
yes, today I want to put like a pull in the ground. You want to make a determination,
you want to make a decision, I'm going to take my prayer life up to the next level and weave it
and integrate it more into my life. If you think, yes, I want to do that, come out and take one of
the blocks. They'll take you from the bottom. But the people might want me to just take a block
and keep it. And in 146, take one of those little wooden batons, okay?