Starting the week right!

lifeprayerThese lines are irreverent but captivating. Rabbi Marc Gellman says that “Prayers basically come down to four –‘Gimme.’ ‘Thanks.’ ‘Oops.’ and ‘Wow!’  Think about it.  We ask. We express our gratitude (or at least we should!), we confess our sins, and, hopefully, we find ourselves in awe of a holy God and pause to adore Him!  So many Christians know how important prayer is, but like many other things, their practice is far below their profession.  How about you, friend?  This Monday morning, let’s take a few minutes to think about praying with the aim of encouragement, not guilt.

The Almighty God of the Universe is revealed to us by Jesus as “Our Father!” Yes, we are invited to  “approach the throne of grace with confidence, and … find grace to help us in our time of need.” (Hebrews 4:16, NIV) Our prayers are anchored in His greatness, assured by His grace, and welcomed through His Son. Jesus taught us that we are given access directly to God because of Him! “Ask the Father directly, and he will grant your request because you use my name. You haven’t done this before. Ask, using my name, and you will receive, and you will have abundant joy.” (John 16:23-24, NLT)

When you pray, do you adopt a strange voice, a different vocabulary, or a formal manner of speech?  Stop it. Really, rethink your approach. As a Christian, you are having a conversation with your Abba who wants to hear from you. In no way is it impolite or disrespectful to pray in a way that reflects who you are, pairing that with confidence in His interest. I do hope your prayers are more than whining to Him about making your life easier, about keeping the weeds from growing in your yard, about erasing the consequences of short-sighted or foolish choices you made, or about giving you more money!

Prayer is best when we enter into an intimate conversation about growing deep in the life of the Spirit, overcoming sin and Satan, defeating forces of anarchy and evil!  That will include discussing your fears and failures with Him, seeking His guidance for life’s complexities, and even sitting alone in silence admitting, “Father, I have no words.” (That is a familiar prayer for me. I often simply wait, listen, and know that He is God!)  Paul teaches us to pray about everything, leaving behind the need to worry about anything!  (Phil. 4.6) Are you taking advantage of that privilege?

It is a real mistake to abuse the privilege of prayer just to beg for more comfort and more things, just to feed our selfish wants. A key to prayer is a heart that desires what our Father desires. The Holy Spirit can and will change us from the inside out, if we allow Him full access. Why is that so important?  James explains that our motives need to be aligned with God’s purposes“…the reason you don’t have what you want is that you don’t ask God for it. And even when you do ask, you don’t get it because your whole motive is wrong- you want only what will give you pleasure.” (James 4:2-3, NLT) However, we are walking with Him, wanting Him to do His will in us and through us; we begin to live in a way that is a living prayer.

Remember this.  God, as our wise and loving Father, reserves the right to answer according to plans and purposes that we are incapable of knowing this side of Eternity.

This Monday morning, start anew in prayer. No more weak, timid prayers! No more forced words, empty ‘religious phrases’ that just fill up space. Instead, go to talk to your Abba. Pray His purposes confidently.

Here are a couple of suggestions.

  • Go stand on the front steps of your house and ask the Lord to make your home and family a place that represents His kingdom well Pray for opportunities and the courage to speak up about of the immense love that the Father has for them.
  • Lift up your teen-ager every day, asking God to protect that emerging adult and to make Himself known to that child in this secular culture.
  • Surrender! Yes, let your body language pray as you raise your hands and and give yourself – without reservation – to the Lord.
  • Pray for “His kingdom to come and His will to be done” in your life, in your family, in your church.

Here’s a word from the Word. When the disciples asked Jesus to teach them to pray, He gave them this model. We pray it often, word for word, which is fine, but it is actually more like a template for our own prayers. As you read it today, learn about making your conversation whole – a real conversation that includes ‘Gimme.’ ‘Thanks.’ ‘Oops.’ and ‘Wow!’

“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.'”  (Matthew 6:9-13, NIV)

_________

Make my life a prayer to you
I wanna do what you want me to
No empty words and no white lies
No token prayers no compromise

I wanna shine the light you gave
Through your son you sent to save us
From ourselves and our despair
It comforts me to know you’re really there

 Well I wanna thank you know
For being patient with me
Oh it’s so hard to see
When my eyes are on me
I guess I’ll have to trust
And just believe what you say
Oh you’re coming again
Coming to take me away

 I wanna die and let you give
Your life to me so I might live
And share the hope you gave me
The love that set me free

 I wanna tell the world out there
You’re not some fable or fairy tale
That I’ve made up inside my head
You’re God the son and you’ve risen from the dead

 Well I wanna thank you know
For being patient with me
Oh it’s so hard to see
When my eyes are on me
I guess I’ll have to trust
And just believe what you say
Oh you’re coming again
Coming to take me away

Melody Green © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC

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