Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Are We Praying the Right Way?

Many sincere believers have complicated their prayer life. Are you and I praying the right way?
First, consider the wonderful simplicity of prayer that our Lord demonstrated and taught.
Jesus prayed alone a lot of times, but obviously He also prayed so that the disciples heard because they asked Him, “Lord, teach us to pray.” (Luke 11:1, and following).
Jesus gave them an amazing and beautiful answer. It was unlike anything they were used to hearing. The words He used are now called “the Lord’s Prayer.” (Matthew 6:9, and following).

Simplicity that Jesus demonstrated
We have overlooked some aspects of this prayer. To pray like Jesus instructed here all a person has to do is address the prayer to “Our Father Who are in Heaven.” We do not have to search out from a long list of saints the one who would be most favorable to our petition. We do not even go through any intermediary, such as Jesus’ earthly mother, Mary.
First in the prayer we give God praise for Who He is; we acknowledge that He has a Kingdom and His will is to be accomplished, both in Heaven and on earth.
We ask for our daily needs, we ask forgiveness for our shortcomings, we ask to be delivered from the evil one.
Note, too, there is no command from Jesus that we must repeat and repeat the words of this model prayer that serves as a pattern for us.
Of course, this is not all Jesus said when He spoke to His Father. He must have spent more time in worship, praise, and discussing the progress of His life on earth. When He was praying in the garden He prayed for God to spare Him the ordeal just ahead, but relinquished His own will to be obedient to the Father’s will. (Luke 22;42).
Jesus prayed, giving thanks for food, as did all Jews. (Matthew 14:19, Mark 7:34, Luke 9:16, Luke 24:30).

Simplicity that the disciples demonstrated
Fast forward to the upper room where the disciples gathered after Jesus ascended to His Father. Note that these men and women were praying. One woman’s name we notice in particular. Mary, His earthly mother was there. No one was giving her any extra attention or praying to her, (Acts 1:12-14).

Simplicity in the New Testament
Now recall the events related in the letters of the New Testament. Mary is not mentioned, nor is prayer to her or prayer to any other great person mentioned or instructed.
This makes praying more simplified and wonderful than we had thought. We approach God, the Creator of Heaven and Earth, magnificent, holy, all-mighty, all-knowing, powerful loving Lord in these awesome words, “Our Father, Who are in Heaven.”
Such simplicity is the truth. Without elaboration the first believers practiced and taught about prayer that is so unlike what many people know.

What this simplicity means for us
We speak simply and honestly to God:
• with no “middle man,”
• no holy location,
• no payment of money,
• no need for organ music playing,
• no soft glow of candles,
• no stained glass windows.
We are free from needing
• prayer books,
• prayer instruction manuals,
• prayer teachers.
We are free from having
• the fear of “saying the wrong thing,”
• the fear of shocking God with our confession,
• the fear of forgetting all the details of what we need —and want—and when and how.

Prayer like this means we can commune directly with God. We may picture ourselves talking to Jesus or sitting on His lap, like one of those little children. (Matthew 19:13, Mark 10:14, Luke 18:16).
Another time we may picture ourselves in a glowing cloud of God’s glory, like Isaiah, overcome with His tremendous power and majesty, (Isaiah 6:1-8).
All through the day we can speak silently in our hearts to the Lord, knowing God’s Holy Spirit is dwelling inside of us, (John 14:16-17). No need to worry about a prayer not “rising above the ceiling.”
Prayer is far more important that we recognize. Not that God does not know, not that He wants to hear our version, not that He waits to hear our suggestions on how to solve the problem.

We do not pray . . .
We do not pray to impress each other, the people in Sunday School, the pastor who sits at our dinner table. We do not pray at meetings to add announcements of coming events. We do not pray to inflict lengthy lessons upon our children.
We do not pray like the heathen: prayer flags waving in the breeze, prayer wheels spinning in a courtyard, incense burning in a cloud of scented smoke.
We do not put our minds into a trance to commune with God. We do not offer sacrifices of food, animals, blood.
We do not pray to a female goddess. We do not pray according to positions of the sun, moon, and stars. We do not bow to a statue.
We do not come on the basis of our own ability to keep laws and commandments.

We do pray . . .
In beautiful simplicity and truth we pray as Jesus taught, as we find in the Bible. We talk to God with confidence, peace of mind, joy.
Our prayer is different from the person who is just now realizing his/her sin problem and understands that they face eternity sooner or later. This person prays to acknowledge their need of a Savior and invites Jesus into their heart. God hears this prayer! It doesn’t have to be “fancy” words or a special location.
Each of us who have sincerely accepted Jesus Christ as our own Savior now have a walk of faith ahead. God wants to hear our prayer. It is refreshing to pray, knowing that He is teaching us to trust and obey Him more fully.

Where are you?
Where are you in your life at this time? Where are you in your relationship with God? Is it time for a new beginning?

Let God show you how.
You and I can communicate to our Father with ordinary words at any time. He wants to hear from us.
Whisper a prayer to Him right now. Ask Him to show you what you need to believe — and pray — and do. ❤

What does the Bible say?
In the Old Testament, “pray, prays, prayed, praying,” or “prayer” are used 346 times.
In the New Testament, “pray, prays, prayed, praying” or “prayer” are used 142 times.
Other words such as “ask” and “confess” also convey the concept of prayer.

Psalm 32:5, I acknowledged my sin to You, And my iniquity I have not hidden. I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the LORD,” And You forgave the iniquity of my sin.

Psalm 51: 10, Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me.

Matthew 6:8, “Therefore do not be like them. For your Father knows the things you have need of before you ask Him.”

Matthew 21:22, “And whatever things you ask in prayer, believing, you will receive.”

Luke 11:13, “If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him!”

John 14:13, “And whatever you ask in My name, that I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son.”

John 15:16, “You did not choose Me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit, and that your fruit should remain, that whatever you ask the Father in My name He may give you.”

Philippians 4:6, Be anxious for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.

James 1:5, If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him.

1 John 5:14, Now this is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us.

Look up and read these verses in their context.
A word search can help you find many more verses so you can learn for yourself what the Bible says, and you can pray the right way.