Finding the key to spiritual maturity
by Dennis Culbreth
Jul 21, 2012 | 1574 views | 0 0 comments | 20 20 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Dennis Culbreth
Dennis Culbreth
When I was a young pastor, I visited an older, wiser pastor in Georgia who had been quite successful in leading his church. He graciously spent time with me as I asked him question after question concerning his success. After a while of patiently answering my questions, he stood and asked me if I would like to see the secret to his success. I eagerly agreed and followed him down the winding halls of the church’s educational wing. I’m sure that he could see the disappointment on my face as we entered an empty Sunday School room. My first thought was how could this empty room be the secret to his success? Then he began to explain to me the true reason for his outstanding ministry. He confided in me that for years he felt defeated in his ministry. His congregation was divided and he was tired. They were not accomplishing anything for the Kingdom of God and were actually a detriment to the witness of Christ in their community. They were a dysfunctional church. He began to gather a group of godly men in that room for prayer. Soon, this empty room was overflowing with people praying for his ministry, for the church family and for the community that they might be open to the Gospel of Christ. Before long, this tired pastor began to see a difference in his church. The bitterness and backbiting began to abate and people started to accept Christ. They soon outgrew their sanctuary and were forced to build a new one to hold all the people who couldn’t wait to see what God was going to do next in this congregation. Now, this pastor, aged 71, could finally enjoy his ministry. He found that the key to spiritual success is prayer. That sounds so simple, doesn’t it? Just pray about it. But, prayer IS the key. The single most important factor in growing to maturity as a Christian is prayer. The Christian life is a life of dependence on God. It is through Him that we receive the strength and help and ultimately the victory. Prayer is our connection to God. We can see this in Jesus’ earthly ministry. Jesus was constantly in prayer. Jesus lived the most amazing life that was ever lived and it was punctuated with prayer. The disciples were so impressed with His prayer life that they asked Him “to teach them to pray.” (Luke 11:1)

Prayer grows out of a conviction that God is my father and He is concerned and willing to help in all circumstances of my life. Unfortunately, we forget and don’t practice the power of prayer. We wander weakly through life because we do not pray. We cannot have God’s power in our lives unless we pray.

We need to develop an effective prayer life. Here are four practices that will help you in this endeavor.

1. Establish the habit of Prayer.

We are all creatures of habit. When we get into the habit of exercise and miss that routine when we skip a session we can tell it. We miss it. Prayer also needs to be a habit for us. Develop a habit of prayer. Martin Luther, the great German theologian, said this about prayer, “Prayer is a powerful thing, for God has linked Himself thereto.”

2. Find a place of Prayer

It will help our prayer life if we can find a place to pray on a regular basis. Find a quiet place that will shut out the distractions of the world. It would be a good idea to create your own prayer closet.

3. Set a time for Prayer

Get into a rhythm of prayer. The Bible says we are to pray without ceasing (1 Thess. 5:17). This means that we are to be in an attitude of prayer at all times. Here are some suggestions:

• Pray when you wake up.

• Pray before every meal

• Pray before you go to sleep

• Pray when you miss a green light. You could do like one Christian businessman, instead of taking the elevator to his office, he would use the stairs and prayed the whole way up.

He called them his “prayer stairs.” But, find a definite time of prayer and keep with it. Most outstanding Christians have a definite place and time of prayer. They don’t miss it.

4. Do more than ask.

Learn an effective method to your prayer life. I have found that the ACTS acrostic helps me keep my prayer life in balance. ACTS stands for:

• Adoration-thank the Lord for who He is. Praise Him.

• Confession-confess your sins to Him. Cleanse your life before Him.

• Thanksgiving-thank the Lord for answered prayer and for your relationship with Him.

• Supplication-ask your Heavenly Father to supply your needs and the needs of others. Last week, we looked at the fact that God wants you to grow. This week we see that His desire is that we pray. How do you get started? Make it a priority.

Dr. Dennis R. Culbreth is the Senior Pastor of Jasper’s First Baptist Church