“But when you pray, go into your room, and when you have shut the door, pray to your Father who is in the secret place; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly.” Matthew 6:6 NKJV
Praying to God is usually a private matter. Praying is simply communicating with God, having a conversation with Him. The Bible offers us lots of advice and examples of praying. As the verse above suggests, when we pray to God we can share our feelings, desires, concerns, anxieties, dreams and appreciation in a quiet, private place. We aren’t putting on a show for anyone (like the Pharisees would do). We are honest and thankful and respectful, because after all we are talking with God. God, the creator of the earth and heaven and all we know.
When I became a Christian at fourteen, I did not really know how to pray. My only experience was hearing prayers in church which most always seemed very formal and distant. Not for me. But as I studied more and read more and attended some truly wonderful Sunday school classes and youth group activities my prayer life grew and blossomed. I could actually talk with the awesome God who had sent His Son to save me!
We have this wonderful privilege through our relationship with Jesus, who died and rose from the dead to bring us close to God. “If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you.” John 15:7 and “And whatever you ask in My name, that I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son.” John 14:13 We have only to ask. It seems too simple. Sometimes we don’t get the answer as quickly as we would like or sometimes not even the answer we would like. We all struggle with this aspect of prayer. But even then we can talk with God about our concerns and desires and frustrations, and accept His wisdom and peace and the path He has chosen just for us.
Jesus gave us the best known example of prayer, The Lord’s Prayer in Matthew 6:9-13. Jesus tells us that God knows our needs before we even begin. Jesus’ model prayer begins with respect for the holiness of God, then “that Your (God’s) will be done”, then a request for basic needs (food), then forgiveness as we forgive others, then respite from temptation and the “evil one”, and finally a restatement of who God is and His glory. Amen. Powerful and succinct!
Sometimes we are not even sure what we need to pray for or how to say it! When that happens I am reminded of Romans 8:26b “For we do not know what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered.” Sometimes my heart is heavy and I don’t know where to begin. I just go to God and pour out my feelings and know the Spirit will intercede for me.
One of my favorite verses is short but wonderful; “pray without ceasing” I Thessalonians 5:17 Can we even imagine? But it helps me to remember that there is not a specific time frame for talking with God. Many of us start our day off with some time with God and prayer time. But many times throughout the day our thoughts go to some concern or worry or trouble, and that’s when we can offer a small, silent prayer to the Lord. Many times a day, “Thank You, Lord!” goes through my mind. A lost dog is found, a child is safely home, a friend calls, a communication stills a worry, or the perfect word comes to mind for a story! I’m sure you can add your own “Thank You” moments to the list!
I have to conclude with Matthew 18:20 “For where two or three are gathered together in My name, I am there in the midst of them.” Jesus tells us plainly that if two or more believers pray together, not only is He with them, but what they ask will be done for them by “My Father in heaven”. (Matthew 18:19) What power we are promised in consensus. But even here, prayer is still an honest and heart-felt conversation with God.
This week let’s try to expand our prayer lives. Let’s share our lives and even the sometimes messy details with God. He already knows us and our troubles and He will share our burdens.
I thank God for each of you! And I thank you for joining me today to discuss praying with God!