|Like this vice, circumstances can crush us|
It’s been five years since our son informed us that he no longer believed in God or was sure that there was one. Three years since our daughter made a similar declaration. The last few years have also held various eldercare challenges with regard to my mom. Any thought of doing without a prayer life has gone out the proverbial window. Together and individually my husband and I have wept over our prodigals, cried out to God for their healing as well as for my mother’s, and cast all of our cares at His feet, knowing He cares for us (I Peter 5:7). I read a lot about prayer, I participate in prayer groups, but the most important thing I do is to actually spend time in God’s presence.
Whether or not we think we need God, we do. Whether or not we think we need to pray, we do. The person who wants it the least, likely needs it the most.
|God cares about wandering sheep and so should we|
Other than feeling the world closing in, why pray? We pray because Jesus did and He’s our model for how to live. He prioritized prayer and left behind multitudes of people with needs both great and small to spend time with His Father. He got up early in the morning to be alone with Him. These hours were essential to His ministry. They filled His “cup.” It was during these conversations (talking and listening) and meditation periods that He received His instructions, wisdom, and guidance. It was in prayer that He was refreshed, renewed, and restored. If Jesus needed to pray, how much more do we?
|Getting alone with God is the most important "thing" we can do|
Jesus’s prayer times were so inspiring and anointed that the disciples asked Him to teach them to pray.
In Matthew 6, verses 9 to 13, we learn some things from what is commonly known as The Lord’s Prayer (TLP). First, prayer involves relationship. The very first line describes the connection between us and God: He’s our Father. In fact, this is what gives us the right, the authorization, to approach His throne of love, grace, mercy, and justice. He’s not a stranger, not an acquaintance, not someone we’ve heard about from someone else. We’re His kids, and He cares about us. He wants to us to come to Him; He wants to hear from us. He longs to give us good gifts, and He wants us to share what’s on our hearts. “You do not have because you do not ask,” says James 4:2. “Ask and you shall receive,” it says in several other places.
We also learn that we must come to prayer with the right attitude. “Hallowed be Your name,” Jesus says. We recognize that God is holy, He is pure, He is far above us in all of His ways. We approach Him boldly in the sense that He is our Father, but we also come humbly, knowing He is God, Creator of all things and vastly superior to us.
Because of who He is (omniscient, knowing what is best, seeing the big picture), we pray His will, not our own—“Your kingdom come, Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven” (italics mine). The scriptures that advise us to ask God also talk about praying with right motives (James 4:3) and praying in agreement with God’s heart. Ours is not a prosperity gospel, seeking wealth, comfort, and ease. In John 16:33, Jesus assures us that in this world we will have trouble. Instead, we’re to seek God’s best, for every person, in every situation. “Rejoice always,” 1 Thessalonians 5:16 tells us; “pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus” (vv. 17-18).
Some requests that line up with God’s heart are spelled out in TLP: praying for the meeting of physical needs (“daily bread.” Other examples might be shelter, rest, employment, even breath); praying for forgiveness of sin and for the ability to forgive others; and praying for protection and deliverance from evil. And of course, we can never go wrong when we pray for the salvation of others. It’s not God’s desire that any should perish (2 Peter 3:9), but did it ever occur to you that their salvation may depend on prayer? I think of that sometimes when I pray for random people I pass on the street (a form of praying without ceasing). I may be the only person who has ever prayed for them. Won’t it be something if I meet them in heaven one day and discover they are there because of my prayer? It’s not impossible!
I invite you to join me in prayer today, worshipping our awesome God, seeking His wisdom and guidance, praying for the needs of others as well as your own. Don't wait for life to put you in its chokehold before beginning. Through the groups in which I participate, I bear witness to the power of the One to whom we pray. He is working, always working (John 5:17), and although His ways and timing are not according to our preferences, they are better than all we could ask or imagine (Ephesians 3:20). He turns our mourning into dancing (Psalm 30:11) and puts a new song on our lips. Then many will see and revere and trust in the Lord (Psalm 40:3). Let it be so!
For more about Susan Barclay and her writing, please visit www.susan-barclay.blogspot.com