Monday, April 8, 2013

Q & A with Rick Hamlin on Prayer

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Your career at Guideposts magazine has spanned almost three decades. How has your position at Guideposts as executive editor impacted your outlook on prayer?

When you see me in my office, surrounded by a sea of yellow post-it notes filled with prayer requests from people around the world, you get a quick snapshot of all the
ways I've been blessed. Praying for others and encouraging them in prayer has taken me on a wonderful journey, an exhilarating adventure. I like to memorize their requests and who they are so I can think about them when I’m not at my desk. I’ve learned to “go out on a limb” when I pray for others, to take a risk, to be passionate – the way Paul is in his prayers. In my work here, I’ve also been expected to ask boldly, sometimes brazenly, about other people’s prayer lives and that has blessed me and helped me grow in my Christian faith. Hearing their stories, their challenges, and their victories refreshes and encourages me every day.   

You give your readers a new perspective on the definition of prayer—what constitutes prayer, what it is, what it’s not. Can you expand upon this, helping readers understand your view of “praying without ceasing”?

Talking to God can happen in a lot of different ways. Certainly, it can be quiet and contemplative, but it can also be a conversation as you would talk to a friend. Pour out your soul, say what’s on your mind, don’t censor yourself. He’s listening and knows exactly what you’re going through. Also, reading Scripture, especially the Psalms, captures our thoughts, speaks to our souls and, in fact, constitutes prayer. A prayer can inspire an act, but the act itself can also be a prayer. It can be bold and action-packed like a hug, a song, a scripture verse, a service, writing someone a note or letter or doing an out-of-the-blue favor; all these connect us with our Maker. When we say “Yes” to God and then go on to act on His nudgings, on the promptings of the Holy Spirit, then we’re on our way to “praying without ceasing” throughout our lives.  

You exhort readers not to get stuck in “prayer paralysis.” Could you further discuss the “cure” for this malady?

Sometimes in your prayer life it can be hard to translate a good feeling into an action.
  You know what God wants you do to but you’re not sure you can do it.  You get stuck.  Well, as someone once said, “Be bold and mighty forces will come to your aid.”  When you say “Hi!” to God, God will say “Hi!” right back to you.  Step out in faith and you will be helped in more ways than you know.  Prayer is a tool to make you stronger, braver, bigger, lovelier – in a word.  Prayer simply expands your world. You learn to care about people you would never have known otherwise, and you find out what makes them tick. You grow in your ability to love. This “prayer in action” cures your “prayer paralysis” quickly! 

In your new book, you speak on many different aspects of prayer. What is your view on acquiring a “prayer partner” or someone you can pray with regularly? 

Jesus says that “wherever two or three are gathered in My name,” He will be there—with bells on. We really do gain strength from one another in this world. We’re not
made to fly solo. With all that in mind, years ago, I worked up my courage to ask a
friend, Arthur Caliandro, a senior pastor who led a large, dynamic ministry, to come alongside me as a prayer partner. And it’s been a wonderful partnership! Arthur and I met together for 18 years, and he has taught me so much as “iron sharpens iron”, so Arthur has honed and challenged me in a vast number of ways. In fact, Arthur introduced me to The Jesus Prayer, a life-saving, soul-refreshing prayer that I talk about in the new book.

Tell us more about The Jesus Prayer.  

The Jesus Prayer is a tried-and-true classic. It’s really a prayer that I keep tucked in my
heart, so to speak—a prayer that I’ve memorized that I can call on if and when needed. In essence, it restores my focus to what’s really important, reminding me “Why am I
here?”  It begins “Jesus Christ, have mercy upon me, a miserable sinner . . . .” When I’m sitting in a meeting, going cross-eyed, it brings me back to all that’s true in life. I need Christ’s mercy, especially when my self-righteousness kicks in! The prayer continues with, “Make haste to help me. Rescue me and save me. Let Thy will be done in my life.” I find that this prayer takes away all the needless tasks and distractions. It’s asking God to be very present where we are - to become a creature of hope and love, not fear, to encourage and not condemn, to trust and not flee. And if you’re like me, you’ll find great value in this.       

On a scale of 1-10, how would you rate yourself as a “prayer expert”?

Ah, a question with many answers. I love it! First, without God, I would rate myself a zero. He’s the one who created prayer, designed it and invented it, so without Him everything in life would add up to nothing! And that’s also why that with Him, we’re all “10’s.” Every person who comes to Him with a mustard seed of faith rates a “10.” You can’t fail at prayer. Just trying to pray is to pray. Practice is perfect. God makes each of His children with the need and capacity to connect intimately with Him.  We’re all amateurs in prayer in the true sense of the word in that amateurs do what they do out of love.

You offer 10 suggestions for ways to pray. Are there only 10?  

My 10 ways to pray are just to get you started. There are as many ways to pray as there are people in the world. Prayer is personal and heart-felt for each one of us. These 10 prayers “you can’t live without” really provide motivation to dive in and swim, to see the possibilities and fly. No prayer is wrong, and every prayer tried is the best 
one possible for that time and place. God will find you wherever you are, and He will never let you go. Sit with Him, stand with Him, cry with Him, laugh ‘til your sides ache. Pray, just pray. Ask Him to help you. You were made to pray!   


Thanks, Rick! Finally, please check out this video featuring Rick talking about his new book   

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