Friday, March 25, 2005

This is How You Should Pray...

In Matthew’s account the model prayer is given in the middle of an explanation of the proper attitude for prayer. In Luke’s account a slightly different version of the prayer is given in response to the request of the disciples, “Lord, teach us to pray!”
Prayer is perhaps the most natural AND the most difficult spiritual discipline. Almost everyone prays when they encounter some sort of difficulty. I used t think that God was frustrated by that fact, but now that I am a father I know that the best response from my children when they encounter problems is to cry out to their father or mother. And yet, those who cry out to God only when they are in trouble miss out on the greatest blessings that God has in store for them.
Prayer keeps us in close range to God so that his influence is greater in our lives. Prayer creates an “obedience zone” in our hearts that would not exist without faithfulness in prayer. Prayer is our declaration of dependence upon our loving Father. Prayer is our lifeline to the very heart of God. Since this is true, prayer must never become routine, or ritualized, rather it must be the natural expression of our desire to talk to and listen to God. Are you praying?

And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by men. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full. But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.
This, then, is how you should pray:
‘Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name,
your kingdom come,
your will be done
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread.
Forgive us our debts,
as we also have forgiven our debtors.
And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from the evil one.’
For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.

(Matthew 6:5-15)

Jesus was a man of prayer. This fact greatly impressed his disciples and they wanted to learn to pray like Jesus. Jesus gave them a “graduate level course on prayer!”

· Prayer is to be a time of solitude with God, not a show for other people.

· Prayer is not effective because it is well crafted or wordy, prayer is effective because it touches God’s heart.

· Prayer is communal. The pronouns used are “our, us, we,” but never “I, me, or mine.”

· Prayer is intimate. Jesus teaches us to address God as our father. Close relationship!

· Prayer contains praise. Acknowledging the goodness of God and seeking the expansion of his influence in the world.

· Prayer contains requests. Acknowledging our needs and the expectation that God is the source of meeting those needs.

· Prayer contains commitments. Acknowledging our responsibility to treat others in the way we are asking God to treat us.

· Prayer seeks the guidance and protection of God. Without the guidance and protection of God the Christian could never survive life in the world. With those gifts we can live up to our full potential that God seeks to create in our lives.

Prayer is our entry way to the throne room of God. It allows us to sit at his feet and express the feelings of our hearts.

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