Praying. Just a lot of talk?

At 2 am, when I awaken in the dark, I pray; quiet communion with my Friend! Last night I began to think of a friend who is dying, of his family gathered around his bed, and I prayed. Yesterday, in the afternoon, a person called me excited about a big opportunity in his life and after the call, I prayed.  When I felt angst about the new season in my own life, I prayed. For me, praying is about as natural as breathing.

Jesus’ disciples asked Him to teach them to pray. His reply in the 11th chapter of Luke’s Gospel should shape our understanding of the basics of prayer. “He said to them, “When you pray, say: ”‘Father, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come. Give us each day our daily bread. Forgive us our sins, for we also forgive everyone who sins against us. And lead us not into temptation.’”” (Luke 11:2-4, NIV)  

First, He teaches us that we are coming to our Father.
Prayer is relational!

When my children call to talk to their Dad they do not prepare lengthy and formal speeches. We talk about the day, our feelings, our desires, other people, the weather, our concerns. The gift of language allows us to share our lives.  When we pray, above all, we are loving our Abba and sharing our lives. He understands the groans, the laughter, the silence, the tears, the heartache, the triumphs. Like any good and loving father, He loves to hear from us.  My day brightens when my phone notifies me that one of my kids is on the phone.  They do not have to wait for crisis to call. No earthshaking news needs to prompt a conversation.  It’s just good to connect.

Prayer becomes what it ought to be when we allow the revelation of the Word shape our understanding.  We come to a Person, full of Love, not to the ‘universe,’ unfeeling, uncaring, unmoved. Jesus further reveals the nature of our Father’s love for us in that same passage says “If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!”” (Luke 11:13, NIV)  

Second, He teaches that prayer will address the spiritual realm.
Prayer is surrender!

All of our prayers, at their core, must be shaped by a desire for the rule of God. “Your Kingdom come!”  In Matthew, in another setting, Jesus enlarges on that thought – “May Your Kingdom come, Your will be done, on earth as it is in Heaven.”   Our prayers may start out as petulant cries, like those of a willful child who wants his own way.  But, ultimately, if we come to intimately know our Father, our prayers will flow from a trusting heart that receives each day and the provisions for that day from Him. We present our needs and desires, knowing our limited grasp of life, and then we rest in His wisdom. Oh what sweet peace we find in surrender to His will.

Third, He teaches us that prayer includes ordinary daily concerns.
Prayer is relying on Him! 

Human beings are prone to a subtle conceit, a kind of pride that says, “I can manage my own life.”  Until we cannot! How foolish we are to ignore our Father, to walk at a distance when the sun is shining and life is good. Time will come when we will realize our limits, when the illusions of mastery are shattered by some awful reality.  When we have prayed faithfully, gratefully acknowledging His daily care, seeing His providence even in our ‘daily bread,’  faith will be strong to receive His promised grace for those stormy days. “Give us today our daily bread,” and Thank You.

Fourth, He teaches us that prayer includes our recognition of grace.
Prayer is confessional!
  

How many times I have come to my Father in worship only to realize some point of failure or sin that I did not know. It happened in my middle of the night prayer earlier this morning. As I communed with my Father, the Spirit whispered to me of a choice I made that missed the mark of His will. Did I lay there full of guilt or shame? Not at all. I agreed with the Spirit, and felt the release of His forgiveness.   Oh, what amazing grace I find in His love. As a good Father, He will not ignore my sin, but as a loving Father He will readily forgive me, when I ask without excuse. Jesus reminds us that graced people must be ‘grace-full’ people. Are you carrying a grudge? Do you hate someone who wronged you?  Forgive as you are forgiven.  There is real freedom in that release of debt to the Father.

Fifth, He teaches us that prayer includes recognition of the unseen reality of evil.
Prayer is powerful!   

We pray that He will keep us from walking into the traps of the Evil One, the failures born of our own unholy desires, and the snares of scheming people who would destroy us.  “Lead us not into temptation.”  We cannot be naïve about the reality of evil found in ‘the World (earthly systems), the flesh (our sinful nature), and the Devil.’  One of the rich blessings of a prayer-filled life is the discernment that comes when we are in step with the Holy Spirit. We are not fearful or timid. We do not hide from the full experience of living, but we see the traps with spiritual eyes and we are led to Life, not death; to victory, not failure.  Oh Lord, deliver us from Evil!

Pray like your life depends on it. It does! Prayer is our life-line. It is natural as breathing and every bit as critical to life! Prayer need not be the formal churchy wordy kind of praying. We are invited to a conversation –  Father and Child.

The word from the Word invites us into a prayer. “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)  Can I get an Amen?

_________________

O Come To The Altar

Are you hurting and broken within
Overwhelmed by the weight of your sin
Jesus is calling
Have you come to the end of yourself
Do you thirst for a drink from the well
Jesus is calling

O come to the altar
The Father’s arms are open wide
Forgiveness was bought with
The precious blood of Jesus Christ

Leave behind your regrets and mistakes
Come today there’s no reason to wait
Jesus is calling
Bring your sorrows and trade them for joy
From the ashes a new life is born
Jesus is calling

Oh what a Savior
Isn’t he wonderful
Sing alleluia Christ is risen
Bow down before him
For he is Lord of all
Sing alleluia Christ is risen

Bear your cross as you wait for the crown
Tell the world of the treasure you’ve found

Chris Brown | Mack Brock | Steven Furtick | Wade Joye

© 2015 Music by Elevation Worship Publishing (Admin. by Essential Music Publishing LLC)

CLI License # 810055

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