Every day you take somewhere around 20,000 breaths, though you don’t think much about it until you cannot! Breathing seems simple but it is actually a complex function that is part of the respiratory system. This system takes in oxygen and expels carbon dioxide, providing your body with the ability to create the energy in your cells that keep you alive.
On this last day of 2020, let’s take a few moments to think about the breath of the soul – prayer. In the opening days of the New Year, Lord-willing, I will be focusing our attention on prayer, encouraging us to pray, helping us to understand our prayers, and strengthening our commitment to the vital work of prayer.
Are you intimidated by prayer? Do you pray in any meaningful way?
People do many things that while claiming to ‘pray.’ Prayer, in my Pentecostal heritage, is often a deeply emotional thing, that includes unintelligible speech, “speaking in tongues.” Some pray like a lawyer, presenting a case to God in an attempt to convince Him to act. Others pray in liturgical form, using beautifully written words, often ancient. Many pray without realizing it calling out, “Oh, God help me,” in a time of distress.
I love to listen to the prayer of child who has been schooled in faith. They will talk to the Lord Jesus out of an open heart! For me, some prayers are sighs and the name of Jesus softly repeated. Some pray standing, others kneeling. Some raise their hands toward the heavens, others lie face down in humility. Some speak aloud, others remain quiet.
So what is the ‘right way’ to pray? All of the above.
Prayer is communicating with God. Communication takes many forms. I do not converse with a friend over coffee in the same manner that I speak to the congregation from the pulpit! My tone and words are much different when I am delighted and when I am angered! Some communication is wordless; think a reassuring hug from a friend, a kiss from a lover. A rich life of prayer will include times when we speak at length with God and times when we wait silently before Him. Paul says “I should be spiritually free and expressive as I pray, but I should also be thoughtful and mindful as I pray.” (1 Corinthians 14:15, Message)
Most basically we are taught as Christians to “pray continually.” (1 Thess. 5:17)
If we stop breathing we die.
If we stop praying, the same happens to us spiritually.
For Jesus, prayer was like His very breath.
Prayer invites us to live with an awareness of the Presence of God. If we are connected with Him, we ‘breathe’ the Spirit and find power over temptation, security to checks our fear, wisdom to meet each day’s challenges, and joy for the journey.
I do not mean to imply that our best praying is easy, simple, or without cost. Prayer will take us away from the activities and noise that would hinder our hearing of the Spirit’s whisper. People who pray will create times of silence, meditating on the Word of God, realigning their hearts with His purposes. Praying people will discover a kind of dedication in their worship that allows them to live near to God’s heart; a place of ‘comfort sweet!’
So, let us pray!
Rejoice in prayers of praise.
Sing your prayers of worship.
Pray alone, pray with others.
Let tears become prayers of petition.
Pray the Psalms.
Pray with simple sighs.
But, make sure that you pray!
Remember, those who pray often, learn to pray best.
Here’s a word from the Word –
“Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. If you do this, you will experience God’s peace, which is far more wonderful than the human mind can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:6-7, NLT)
”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.” Amen
(Matthew 6:9-13, NIV)
Happy New Year!
May God fill us with His joy,
surround us with His love, and
deepen our appreciation of His grace.