Freedom in Prayer

Freedom in Prayer

By Erin Bird

Today, we are concluding our short three-week series on prayer. In week 1, we talked about how often you can pray to God (anytime!). Then last week, we discussed how we are to approach God in prayer (authentically!). But if I were to put this into a math formula, I think it would look like this:

Frequency + Fervency = Freedom

As we saw in week one, when the Apostle Paul told the church in Thessalonica that they should “pray continually,” that would mean they could pray anywhere at anytime. They weren’t relegated to just praying in the temple, or at the dinner table, or at the foot of their bed before sleep. They had the freedom to pray to God at any hour in any location.

Likewise, as we saw in the psalms last week, we can come into God’s presence authentically. Having a bad day? You can tell Him about it. Have something to celebrate? Praise God for it! Angry at Him for allowing something hard in your life? Share your feelings honestly. (He can handle it!) In other words, you have the freedom to just be you before God.

But let me warn you: When you come to God freely in prayer, you are also giving Him the freedom to work in you and around you as He sees fit. When you pray, you are ultimately surrendering to God. This is why Jesus taught His disciples to pray, “Your will be done, on earth as it is in Heaven.” (Matthew 6:10) However, I think you will discover that when you freely surrender to God in prayer, you will find your greatest joy as you see Him do what only He can do.

So even though our 21 Days of Prayer ends this Saturday, may you continue to realize you have the freedom to come to God at anytime, in anyplace, with anything on your heart. He loves you, and because of Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross, God welcomes you with open arms to approach His throne of grace with confidence.

Heavenly Father, help me to realize I have the freedom to talk with you through prayer. Forgive me for not coming to you more often, and when I do, for not bringing my full self before you. Grow me as a pray-er. Help me find joy in your presence and to trust you to answer my prayers as only you can. Thank you, though, for the freedom you have given me to come before you, the Holy One of Heaven, and bring my requests freely before you.

In Christ I pray,
Amen

How to Know You Enjoy Freedom

This coming Monday, America celebrates Independence Day. If you are a follower of Jesus, you can celebrate another type of independence – your spiritual freedom!

Galatians 5:1 says,

“For freedom, Christ has set us free.”

It’s one thing to read these words, but another to actually experience them. So how do you know you are truly enjoying this freedom Jesus gives us through His Gospel?

1. You find enjoyment when you overcome temptation

I had a friend who went on a diet a couple years ago. He had been eating a few too many cookies, and brownies, and cupcakes, and… well, anything with copious amounts of sugar in it! And his waistline was beginning to show it.

So he became (in his own words) a “food ninja.” Anytime a temptation came to grab a sugary treat, he would become a “ninja” and defeat the temptation by saying, “No!” He decided that just because the cookie was there, he didn’t have to have it.

Because Jesus died for your sins, you do not HAVE to give in to sinful temptation. Whether it’s sexual temptation, temptation to drink too much, or temptation to grab yet another cookie, you do NOT have to indulge.

But here’s the best part: You KNOW you are enjoying your freedom when you say “no” and actually experience satisfaction. My dieting ninja friend knew that if he gave in to the temptation, he would later experience regret. So he found enjoyment in the fact that he didn’t have to take a cookie.

Likewise, you don’t have to sin. You are free from it. If you give in, you will later feel the consequences. So enjoy saying “no” through the power God gives you through the Holy Spirit.

2. You pray without guilt

You know you are enjoying your spiritual freedom when you joyfully run to God in prayer. You can share your deepest hurts without worrying about a “secret sin” you are keeping from God (if that were possible). And when you do screw up, you are quick to confess it to God and preach the Gospel to yourself, thanking God that you are more loved than you could ever imagine.

3. You freely give grace

Ephesians 4:32 says,

“[B]e kind to one another, compassionate, forgiving one another, just as God in Christ also forgave you.”

When you are walking in awareness of your spiritual freedom, you understand God’s amazing grace toward you. And because you are in awe of that grace, you are more likely to give grace to others, forgiving them compassionately.

How to Enjoy Your Freedom More

It’s fun to enjoy the spiritual freedom that God gives us through the Gospel. But what if you aren’t experiencing spiritual freedom?

Keep studying the gospel!

[list type=unordered extra=]
[list_item]Read Matthew, Mark, Luke, or John from the New Testament.[/list_item]
[list_item]Read some of Paul’s letters, specifically Romans, Ephesians, or Galatians.[/list_item]
[list_item]Read Gospel by J.D. Greer or What Is The Gospel by Greg Gilbert.[/list_item]
[list_item]Stay part of your Growth Group or get in one.[/list_item]
[/list]

Basically, keep seeking to understand what was done for you through the cross and resurrection of Jesus. And as you understand this fundamental truth, you will find yourself delighting in the gospel, living freely everyday!

Three Ways to Know You are Enjoying Your Freedom

By Erin Bird

This weekend, America celebrates Independence Day. If you are a follower of Jesus, you can celebrate another type of independence – your spiritual freedom!

Galatians 5:1 says,

“For freedom, Christ has set us free.”

It’s one thing to read these words, and another to actually experience them. How do you know you are truly enjoying this freedom?

Here are three ways you can know you are enjoying your spiritual freedom in Jesus:

1. You find enjoyment when you overcome temptation

I had a friend who went on a diet a couple years ago. He admitted publicly he had been eating a few too many cookies, and brownies, and cupcakes, and… well, anything with copious amounts of sugar in it! And his waistline was beginning to show it.

So he became (in his own words) a “food ninja.” Anytime a temptation came to grab a sugary treat, he would become a “ninja” and defeat the temptation by saying, “No!” He decided that just because the cookie was there, he didn’t have to have it.

Because Jesus died for your sins, you do not HAVE to give in to sinful temptation. Whether it’s sexual temptation, temptation to drink too much, or temptation to grab yet another cookie, you do NOT have to indulge.

But here’s the best part: You KNOW you are enjoying your freedom when you say “no” and actually experience satisfaction. My dieting ninja friend knew that if he gave in to the temptation, he would later experience regret. So he found enjoyment in the fact that he didn’t have to take a cookie.

Likewise, you don’t have to sin. You are free from it. If you give in, you will later feel the consequences. So enjoy saying “no” through the power God gives you through the Holy Spirit.

2. You can pray without guilt

You know you are enjoying your spiritual freedom when you joyfully run to God in prayer. You can share your deepest hurts without worrying about a “secret sin” you are keeping from God (if that were possible).

And when you do screw up, you are quick to confess it to God and preach the Gospel to yourself, thanking God that you are more loved than you could ever imagine.

3. You more naturally give grace

Ephesians 4:32 says,

“[B]e kind to one another, compassionate, forgiving one another, just as God in Christ also forgave you.”

When you are walking in awareness of your spiritual freedom, you understand God’s amazing grace toward you. And because you are in awe of that grace, you are more likely to give grace to others.

How to increase your enjoyment

It’s fun to enjoy the spiritual freedom that God gives us through the Gospel. But what if you aren’t experiencing spiritual freedom?

Keep studying the gospel!

[list type=unordered extra=]
[list_item]Read Matthew, Mark, Luke, or John from the New Testament.[/list_item]
[list_item]Read some of Paul’s letters, specifically Romans, Ephesians, or Galatians.[/list_item]
[list_item]Read Gospel by J.D. Greer or What Is The Gospel by Greg Gilbert.[/list_item]
[list_item]Stay part of your Growth Group or get in one.[/list_item]
[/list]

Basically, keep seeking to understand what was done for you through the cross and resurrection of Jesus. And as you understand this fundamental truth, you will find yourself delighting in the gospel, living freely everyday!

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