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DMin, Leadership and Global Perspectives: Crafting Ministry in an Interconnected World

A Guidebook to Prayer

Written by: on January 22, 2015

Reading A Guidebook to Prayer by MaryKate made me reflect on my prayer experience. Prayer has been an important part of my journey with God. I first learned how to pray from my grandmother who prayed aloud every morning and evening. She never asked me to pray with her, but I remember kneeling next to her every time she prayed. My dad and mom, coming from a Muslim background, used to remind my siblings and I to pray at least three times a day like Daniel. Prayer is very important in my parent’s life. Every evening my family takes time to pray, read Scripture, and sing songs. Because of my background, I too have a habit of praying in the mornings and evenings. My challenge is I do not have a time and place set, but I pray whenever I get up.

I also reflected on how prayer is practiced in my church. The two important church programs that I always hear announced at my church’s Sunday morning worship are prayer and bible study days. Our church community is very good at getting involved in lots of other ministries such as, spiritual conferences or music concerts), but only few people attend the prayer and bible study programs. So, this week I took the opportunity to bring my reading to my small bible group and asked them simple questions: What is prayer? Is prayer hard? Here is what they said:

  • Prayer is hard because there is a spiritual warfare that is keeping us from praying to God. The more we pray, the more we receive power to do Kingdom work, and Satan does not want that to happen. Another interesting point I heard from my group is that prayer is hard because we do not know how to pray because we do not ask our Lord Christ to teach us how to pray. We see Christ spent most of his time in prayers with the Father and spent less time in ministry. Our problem is we spend so much time doing other things and less time in prayer. Just like his disciples, we need to ask Christ to teach us how to pray.
  • Prayer is hard is because we pray with expectation to get answers for our prayers from God. If God did not answer our prayer in the same way we expected, we lose interest in prayer. This exactly relates to what MaryKate said, “We sometimes develop high expectations for how God is going to act, making it about our will and not God’s” (p.16).

There are two fundamental issues I see my church contributing for this growing habit of presuming prayer all about our will and not God’s. For instance, when they plan a spiritual conference, they intentionally invite a guest speaker who has gifts of healing or prophecy and members do not want to miss because prophecy, healing, and blessings are what they want. If a person who has a gift of prophecy or healing comes to our church, there is no doubt that she or he would be the person everyone seeks for prayers and preaching at churches, no matter how good or bad they are. This has been a huge issue not only in my church but also among many Ethiopian churches.

Another problem is there is hardly any guidance on prayer. Besides reminding and urging believers to come to church prayer programs, it is pivotal church provides teaching or a seminar on prayer. When new believers come to church, instead of teaching them only about church dogmas we need to guide them on how to pray using guiding books like this one. Because, as MaryKate says, pray is “the most fundamental avenue for connecting us to God and growing in faith. Through prayer we know who we truly are and who this God is who loves us.” (p.13).

About the Author

Telile Fikru Badecha

13 responses to “A Guidebook to Prayer”

  1. mm John Woodward says:

    Telile, you are so blessed to have had examples of prayer as you were growing up. For me, as I brought up my children, praying with them and around them was pretty awkward, as I didn’t have parents who were Christ-followers, and unlike you, I didn’t have examples of what a “praying family” looked like. I am not sure I did very well. What a blessing to have had parents and grandparents that knew the importance of prayer. So many of the things you wrote about resonated with me. The churches I’ve been involved in, any prayer meetings were the least attended of any activities. I appreciate your insights from your groups…it gives some important insights into why believers just don’t come to prayer meetings. I think your second point is excellent. As I tell people, beware when you pray earnestly, because God may make you the answer to your own prayer. Prayer often leads to actions…so, let’s avoid prayer so we don’t have to act. Pretty sad, but I think it is very true for a lot of people. Thanks for your wonderful insights. They are spot on!

    • Telile Fikru Badecha says:

      John, I commend you for setting a great example to your children. Surely, it is a blessing to have had parents who knew the importance of prayer. I love your advise, “beware when you pray earnestly, because God may make you the answer to your own prayer.” Thank you!

  2. mm rhbaker275 says:

    Telile,
    I loved your post … These little biographical tidbits that you keep giving us are rich and meaningful. For me, and maybe most of us, we were not raised in a cultural world with such striking contrasts in faith and culture. Your story of grandmother, parents, and your kneeling, without saying a word, beside your grandmother for morning and evening prayer. My experience is boring! I don’t have any thing like this. I think often we do not understand the tension between cultures such as you experienced. Your parents, with a Muslim background, possibly raised under the influence of Islamic prayer teachings and habits, influenced you and your siblings to pray three times a day. You have a great heritage. But I wonder about the tension created in family and church family by the culture (belief and practice) of different religious tradition? Of course, we all have cultural tension, for an example, generational or racial culture. Do you feel there was tension created for you, internal or external, living in the multi-religion cultural environment? In Tanzania the people are 30% Christian and 30% Muslim. It was a new experience to my world when every morning a 5:00 a.m. the mosque located close to my house would sound the call to prayer.

    • Richard Volzke says:

      Ron,
      My daughter just landed in Tanzania and will be there for three months. I’ll be interested to hear her perspective after spending the summer there. You talked about the tension between Christian families and churches – you have brought up something that Western Christianity needs to address. My family comes from two different religious backgrounds. One side is Southern Baptist and the other side is Roman Catholic. My early recollection is that prayer was very different in each church. When I visited my Catholic grandfather, his prayers were very structured and focused on seeking answers through the church. He also used a rosary in his prayer time. The prayer that I experienced in the Southern Baptist church was more informal. Despite the involvement of my family in religion, they didn’t model prayer for me in the home. This is something that I believe is mission in American households. We need to pray in front of and with our children.

    • Telile Fikru Badecha says:

      Ron, We all have unique stories of faith journeys. My answer to question: the tension I experienced was not primarily personal but rather communal. Protestant Christians are a minority comparing to Orthodox and Muslims. It is not easy to share our faith freely with others, the same way Orthodox and Muslims do. We thank God that there is much tolerance and freedom of worship under the current régime. thank you for your insights.

  3. Michael Badriaki says:

    Telile, you and I have something in common. Like you my experience with prayer begin with the belief in praying to the creator. Like you, I grew up listening to the Islamic call to prayer. In fact, I had request for how much people in the Muslim faith are committed to their prayers. I knew that people who go to church, “went for prayers” as well.
    MaryKate’s book is touching on an important topic and the point you make in the sentence, “Our church community is very good at getting involved in lots of other ministries such as, spiritual conferences or music concerts), but only few people attend the prayer…” is revealing.

    I have often wondered about the actual challenges people face which prevent them from attending prayer meetings and bible studies. MaryKate, certainly touches on the major one and I also think that there are day to day practical ones as well. I am interested in the “culture” around prayer that some church might create which can be remove barrier or at times might even additional barriers.

    Thank you

    • Telile Fikru Badecha says:

      Michael, Praise God for opening the eyes of your heart to follow Jesus! I appreciate how you noted the growing prayerless among believers. It seems to me that people are consumed with their own agendas, so they seek out for prophets who would speak what they want to hear. That is sadly the culture growing around prayer in my community. Thanks for your thoughtful comment.

  4. Telile,

    Wonderful, inspiring post — as always.

    You are so right. Prayer meetings are often the least populated of all church meetings. Maybe this is because there is no glory for us when we pray; rather, God gets the glory. Also, I think we are more interested in what we can get from God than what we can give to God. He desires us to be with Him, but this is forgotten from most of our minds. We forget that time with God is the most important of spiritual disciplines; I know I forget this. Ironically, if we take the time to “wait on the Lord,” that is when the truest kinds of blessings come. Is there any greater gift than to intentionally come into the Presence of God? I don’t think so. It sound like Ethiopian churches have the same problems that American churches do. We put programs before prayer. We all do that. But what requires more faith? God help us to truly be those who place prayer as the highest priority. This is the prayer I pray for myself.

    Thanks again for your good work here.

    • Telile Fikru Badecha says:

      Bill, thank you so much for your insights. Your words spoke to my heart. I am praying with you for God to help me put prayer first. Thank you!

  5. Telile, you are so right on people seeking out the miracles and prophecies. But call a prayer meeting and their may be only a few handful of people who will show up.

    You really have hit on something here as to how to help people understand that prayer is more about Him than it is about themselves is quite an issue. That is why people often seek out the “Man of God” to provide them what they what God to do for them and what they what from Him.

    Maturity is what you are dealing with. The more mature the Christian is the less they demand things from God and the more they seek God’s agenda for His sake and not for their own sake.

    Blessings,
    Mitch

    • Telile Fikru Badecha says:

      Mitch, You are absolutely right, it is the evidence of lack of spiritual maturity that we are dealing in my context. Like you say, “The more mature the Christian is the less they demand things from God and the more they seek God’s agenda for His sake and not for their own sake.” May the Lord help understand the cruciality and mystery of prayer.

  6. Miriam Mendez says:

    Telile, You said in your post, “When new believers come to church, instead of teaching them only about church dogmas we need to guide them on how to pray using guiding books like this one.”. Yes, I agree. Often we tell people about prayer, but we don’t teach them how to pray or even offer resources like this one that can help in strengthening one’s prayer life. How might you introduce this in your church? Thank you for reminding us of this in your post.

    My grandmother was also instrumental in teaching me how to pray. Thanks Telile.

  7. Telile Fikru Badecha says:

    Miriam, thank you for sharing your insight. Glad your grandmother was also instrumental in teaching you how to pray. It is a blessing to have had family who knew the importance of prayer. MaryKate’s guide on prayer is so powerful. I already shared some of my learning with my small group and would love to introduce some of the prayer practice shred in this book. Blessings!

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