March 29, 2011

Prayer: More thoughts on Prayer

In a previous posts, I indicated that one of the questions about God that I have to believe on faith is, how does God keep up with all of us! It would be humanly impossible for God to keep up with the 6.8 billion souls on the earth. Even Facebook with 500 million subscribers can't begin to reach everyone.  So I accept on faith that God watches over me and hears my prayers.

The question is how do we talk to God in the appropriate way and how do we plea our case or make our requests in a way acceptable to God, the Creator of the Universe. I just do not feel comfortable addressing GOD in an informal conversation. "Hey God" doesn't sound right to me.  In addition to having the correct
words to use, my problems and concerns are often such that I have difficulty putting them into clear and precise terms. The third element of prayer causing me trouble is whether my prayer is appropriate. I find myself praying for someone and telling God what needs to be done for the person when perhaps I should be praying for God's will to be done. You see even that seems wrong since God loves the person for whom I am praying and already has plans for them. The point is I don't know how to pray or what to pray for or the words to use.  But still I pray!

In Hebrews and Romans are two passages that have given me comfort when I pray.  The worries about the form of prayer are dissolved. The first is Hebrews 7:25 Jesus saved us and "he always lives to intercede for them". I especially like the thought that Jesus lives to intercede.  This is the purpose for which he lives. 

When I was a young boy/man, I tended to have a slight disregard for traffic laws particularly those relating to the proper speed limit.  As always happens, I got caught one too many times. In court, the court officer began reading a list of other offenses I had committed.  I could see the Judge's face change from amused to serious as the minor offenses added up. Before he announced my punishment, I heard a man rise in his seat and say, "Your Honor, may I say a word?" It was my Uncle Marshall, one of the truly nice guys in my life.  He said, "Steve is my nephew and is a good boy. I will take responsibility for him.  If he messes up again, I will pay the price." And with that, I was released from any punishment for my traffic adventures.  as it turns out, Uncle Marshal went to school with the Judge and they were good friends. He interceded for me. 

The second passage comes from Paul's letter to the Romans. It is in Romans chapter 8:24-26. Actually it is a small part of verse 26 that is important in our prayer life. The Message is a paraphrase translation of the scripture.  The passage in Romans come alive when read from this translation. (The link above takes you to this passage as it appears in several translations)

God's Spirit is right alongside helping us along. If we don't know how or 
what to pray, it doesn't matter. He does our praying in and for us, 
making prayer out of our wordless sighs, our aching groans.

Have you ever noticed when you talk to young child how they are eager to talk to you.  They bombard the listener with a string of seemingly unintelligible words. You smile and with a sheepish grin say to the Mom, "What did she say?" And then Mom begins to translate the gibberish into understandable language. How wonderful it is to have a translator.

I can pray to God using the wrong words and asking for the wrong things and leaving out important parts and addressing God the wrong way and so on with all the worries about saying the right things to God.  I have a Mom, the Holy Spirit, who knows me and who knows what I want to say to God.  And this same Spirit then translates my prayer to God in God's language. And God smiles at me and pats me on the head like a little child.

Now, that's prayer! Amen!


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