As a pastor in Manhattan, John Starke knows the bustle and busyness of our society. But he also knows that prayer is not just for spiritual giants. Prayer, he writes, is for each of us―not because we are full of spiritual wisdom and maturity, but because we are empty. John is the lead pastor at Apostles Church Uptown in New York City. He is also the coeditor of the book One God in Three Persons. He lives in Manhattan with his wife and four children.
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The Possibility of Prayer by John Starke
The Lenten Prayer Guide by John Starke
Chapter 1 - Prayer is the Answer to a Busy Life
We have an unconscious desire for something to be happening. In other words, we hate boredom. In fact, a 2014 study found that almost 50% of people would rather give themselves an electric shock than to be alone with their own thoughts for even 15 minutes. We want to be doing something to keep ourselves busy, even if that something is bad for us. In this first chapter of our conversation with John, he unpacks the ways prayer, silence, and solitude work together as an antidote to our busy lives. It's in stillness and prayer that our real selves and our problems rise to the surface, giving us the opportunity to let God transform us.
Chapter 2 - What is Prayer?
Good communication is key for any relationship to grow and flourish. Today in our modern world, we have tools and technology that connect us with others more than any other time in human history, and yet people feel more alone and more isolated than ever. This is because connection doesn’t equal communication. So connection, although critical for relationships, is not enough. As Christians, we are connected to God through His Spirit. We are connected to God because God is faithful to remain by our side. But if we want to go deeper in our relationship with Him then we need to have open and clear communication with Him. Prayer is how we communicate with God. And as with any relationship, it helps to know what we are sitting down to do when we talk to our loving Father. So that’s why we start off this chapter talking to John about what prayer is and why we are doing it.
Chapter 3 - Lent and the Discipline of Prayer
When you go without one of your senses, it's well known that your other senses heighten. Those who don't have eyesight often have more acute hearing and smell. This is really what fasting does for us. When we take time to separate ourselves from some experience for the sake of being transformed by God, it heightens our awareness of him in the everyday moments of life. In the first two chapters of our conversation with John this week, we've talked about what prayer is and how it transforms us. In this chapter, we get to talk about the opportunity to practice prayer in the season of Lent. When we practice prayer during Lent, it creates a powerful combination that brings us into the presence of God and heightens our awareness of his presence and work in our lives.
Chapter 4 - How to Make Prayer a Lifestyle
When it comes to prayer, we aren’t doing just one thing. Prayer is multi-dimensional. It has many depths to it, and can involve different practices that enrich our time with God and allow us to go deeper into His presence. In Chapter 2 we talked about how in prayer we are trying to enhance our relationship with Christ, so in this chapter we wanted to dive into some of the specific practices that help us create space in our lives to go deeper with Him. And it starts with two sets of rhythms that work together to help us create a vibrant lifestyle of prayer.
Chapter 5 - Learning to Adopt a Lifestyle of Prayer
Prayer doesn't always consist of quiet times alone with God for hours on end. It may not even necessarily be speaking. Our conversation with John this week has driven home the point that prayer is more about developing a relationship with God than anything else. And that can happen in short, everyday moments as well as in intentional quiet times alone with him. The key is staying close enough to hear God say, "I love you!" And the season of Lent is a great time to put this into practice!