Archive for July 18th, 2007

Teach Me How To Pray

Wednesday, July 18th, 2007

Today’s scripture: Matthew 6:5-13 (NRSV) (The Message)

As you read, consider these questions: What might God be saying to me in this passage? What jumps out at me? Summarize your thoughts in a sentence or two before reading on.

My thoughts on this passage (Robert Ferguson):

One of the most challenging aspects of this Christian walk (for me, anyway) is the instruction to pray daily and dedicate some of my time for conversation with God. For many years I have struggled with exactly how to pray, what to say while I am praying, and how to listen for responses from the Holy Spirit.

Our verse for today begins, “and when you pray”, a simple assumption that all of us surely do know the importance of prayer and act upon that. However, I would suggest that most people don’t pray as much as they would like to or as much as they should. Between the daily chores of life and the demands that others put on us we are sometimes hard pressed to find even a few moments for quiet time with God.

Event though we understand that the benefits are great, it seems like a daunting task. I have found that the early morning hours are the best time to sit down and talk with God. When we find a quiet time and go before God in sincere and earnest prayer God will deal with us directly, calm our minds, and prepare us for the everyday challenges that may lie ahead. Matthew encourages us today to find a private space, close the door, and speak to God.

When I was younger I felt unworthy to talk with God. I believed the only people who could pray to God were people in white robes — or at the very least, people in big hats. As I’ve gotten older I understand that God wants to hear from my heart. God wants an honest, genuine conversation with me without all of the formalities and hype. It is so easy to get caught up in the proper language and the proper position and the proper order of the words. In our verse today God communicates to us that when we pray, pray with sincerity of heart and a genuineness of spirit.

When I was 10 years old, my father moved out of our home. I lived for those times when he would come to visit me. I felt special and important. I was so excited when he would visit that I would talk his ear off bringing him up to speed on all the happenings in 6th grade. During our long conversations, I wasn’t particularly concerned with the fact that he was my Dad and I was his son. I was more concerned with the fact that he wanted to listen and cared about my well being. That is how I talk to God.

Free flowing conversation — my gratitude for another day, what it is that I should do with this day, my disappointments, my concerns for others, my accomplishments, my shame, my fears, and my dreams. Most importantly, we need to discuss with God what it is that God desires for us. We can talk about all these things with God just as easily as discussing the day’s events with a loved one.

In prayer, there is a connection between what God does and what you do. You can’t get forgiveness from God, for instance, without also forgiving others. We are in relationship with God, therefore we have a part to play in this relationship. Our part is prayer, humble prayer. God is not impressed by theatrics or boastful sacrifice. If you decide to fast, for example, during a season so that you can focus on God and prayer, keep that information to yourself. Nobody needs to know but you and God. I love this verse because it seems we live in a world where people have become proud about religion. Imagine being arrogant about a relationship with God! Your relationship with God is a personal and private one. Keep it close to your heart and speak to God as you would a friend. God wants to know you like that.

Thought for the day: Have I dared to talk to God like I would my best friend?

We encourage you to include a time of prayer with this reading. Use the item above as a starting point, or consider the guidelines on the How to Pray page.

"Be still, and know that I am God." Psalm 46:10
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