I want to take some time to respond to all the responses in the last post…so here it goes…Obviously many people believe in prayer. But we are challenged by prayer at the same time. Prayer is communication, but somehow we struggle with prayer more than just talking to somebody we know in a real intimate way.
When believers gather together for a meal someone is always asked to pray. Those can be anxious moments because people think about what they are going to say. Not everyone wants to pray. Prayer creates some challenges. Jesus' disciples expressed the same challenge when they said to him, "Teach us to pray." I'm sure they sounded awkward. So Jesus gave the prayer that today we call the Lord's Prayer. He did not give it as a formula. I don't believe that Jesus ever pictured that we would repeat it again and again and again. But he was saying, "Here is an example of how you pray." How Jesus taught us to pray was a lot different than our own attempts. Jesus said that prayer is extremely personal.Most people, when they think of prayer, equate it to a formal situation, like a gathering, a church or a religious organized situation. Jesus said, "And when you pray, don't be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by other people." That's the only time some folks pray. “But when you pray, go into your room . . ." In other words where you hang out, where you live, not in a religious place. ". . . close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what has done in secret, will reward you." Prayer is informal. It's where you live. It's where you hang out. It's interesting that Jesus said when you pray go to that place where you feel comfortable and pray to your Father.
A lot of times we think of prayer as a repetitious ritual. But all of us have meaningful repetitious rituals in our life. Prayer is like a repetitious ritual that you love, where you really love somebody and you make the space and you make the time. If you struggle with words it doesn't matter as much as making the space and time to be alone and aware of the presence of this friendship with God.Jesus said prayer is simple. "And when you pray, don't keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him." Sometimes people think you have to pray a long time to convince God about your needs. Your Father knows what you need before you even ask him. It doesn't take a lot of words.
Some people have a religion that is so heavenly, it's no earthly good. Jesus said let it be done right here on earth, where you live, exactly as you planned it in heaven. We have a tendency to separate spiritual and material. A lot of times we look at physical things as being real and spiritual things as less real, so it is easier for us to focus on what is seen. But, everything that you can see or touch is temporary. Everything.
I am also reminded of my dependence as I pray, and for the great needs I have in my life to become the whole person that God created me to become. There are three needs that are true of every one of us. They deal with our past, present and future. The first great need I have is forgiveness. Forgiveness deals with my past, and the need to truly forgive myself. A lot of us have so much subconscious unforgiven junk we're dealing with. And as long as we have that going on in our lives, we can never be free from our past to focus on the future. Prayer is tied to forgiveness. Do I want to have God's attention? Do I want to have God's blessing in my life? Then forgive me my junk if I also forgive the junk that those folks have done against me. So my forgiveness, my experience of God's love and forgiveness in my life is tied to my willingness to love and forgive other people. Until you forgive that person, you will never be emotionally free to focus on your future. Forgiveness. To go forward, we have to deal with our past.
"Give us this day our daily bread." Daily bread has to do with what I need today physically and spiritually to attain the success that will honor God and that God created me for. When I pray, it reminds me of Jesus' commitment to provide me with every daily resource I need…physical, spiritual or material. Whatever I need, I can ask for.
What about the future? Temptation. Free me or protect me from the things that can derail me from God's purpose in my life. I know many people who started off great and they hit that place of temptation. They compromised and were derailed in their marriage. They were derailed in their career. They were derailed in the respect that they lost from their children. To fully attain the future that God has created me for, I need protection from temptation.
So, I have put my thoughts out there what are you thinking?