Prayer

The subject of prayer hit me this morning again, not the fact that we should pray, but what are my prayers really about? Do I repeat myself often to make sure the God who knows my heart will hear? Do I think that prayers have to be time sensitive, so either I’m rushing so that I don’t bother God too much, or just the opposite, try to take up as much time as I can, thinking that He will surely love to hear all that I have to say. So, I’m drawn to Scripture and land on Matthew 6 concerning prayer. This is what Jesus would say about prayer: “Whenever you pray, you must not be like the hypocrites, because they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by people. I assure you: They’ve got their reward! But when you pray, go into your private room, shut your door, and pray to your Father who is in secret. And Your Father who sees in secret will reward you. When  you pray, don’t babble like the idolaters, since they imagine they’ll be heard for their many words. Don’t be like them, because your Father knows the things you need before you ask Him.” Matthew 6:5-8 So I take away a couple of things with these verses this morning. One, He doesn’t want us to pray with our thoughts on all the witty, and intelligent things we will say before people. My mind goes back to the time in the military, and at every change of command, or retirement ceremony, there is a benediction. I was struck by this because those who were asked to pray usually wrote out their prayers, and got up like they were giving a speech. Is this good organization of your thoughts, or is this preparation to share something of value to the folks who are at the ceremony.  But aren’t prayers to God? Aren’t they given to Him, even in the midst of a sea of people? Who are we talking to? I sensed that these were nothing more than mere speeches, for they did very little to lay out a desire of the heart in petition of the Holy God for the events that lay before. Even the speeches were aimed with words directed at the people and not God. The next observation is that of thinking that simple prayers are “simply” not good enough. Prayers have to be long, and they have to cover everything from your childhood to the third generation of your children. How much is too much? How little is too little?  The Scripture says that “Your Father knows the things you need before you ask Him.”  So if He knows what we need before we ask, then why should we have to ask?  I know within me that prayer is personal; it is two way, asking, listening, with perhaps more time spent on listening instead of talking.  But do I really take the time to listen, or are my prayers bundled in the morning, and evening, so that I can relate to God those things that I have been saving up all night and then through the day. But if communication is with the Lord who is always listening and always ready to receive communication from us, why wait for specific times.  When we are asked for prayer, why do we say, “I’ll pray for you.”  Then, like it’s something that we have to prepare for, so that at our appointed time, we can add the prayer later. Why not have such a relationship with God, that we talk with Him throughout the day. If we have Him in our heart, and spend more time listening, do we hear Him, or are we honestly too busy to listen, and think of prayer as only when we talk? Maybe we need a lesson in prayer. Obviously we do, for this scripture was given by our Lord to teach us how to pray.  He even followed it with a model: “Our Father in heaven, Your name be honored as holy. Your kingdom come, Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us today our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And do not bring us into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one. For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.” Maybe we should take a tip from the Master. Learn how to talk with the One who knows every thought before we speak, but who desires us to love and revere Him so much that we desire to communicate with Him on the most personal level – heart to heart. There is something that fills my soul with joy, and that is spending personal time with our Lord.  He does have time for you, you know. Why not take some time through this day, and just be with Him? I think you’ll find He’s a great listener, and He may not speak much, but what He says, will make all the difference in your day. Pastor Andy

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