March 21, 2011

Prayer: Some thoughts on Prayer

It seems that everyone has advice on How to Pray.  There are hundreds of books, thousands of sermons and radio programs all devoted to prayer.  So why am I writing a post on How to pray? Good question! Well, this post is shorter. But, consistent with the original purpose of the blog,  putting my beliefs in writing helps me to solidify them in my mind. If someone benefits from my personal insight that is an extra bonus.

Mom, Let's talk!
The most important part of prayer is the nature of the person to whom you are praying.  The previous post addressed that issue.  Personally, I am more comfortable praying to a loving Parent than to the exalted creator and Lord of the Universe. Either is acceptable and I support both positions.  But I prefer the first.

So I talk to God as I would talk to my Father or to a good Friend.  I do not use churchly language, there are no "thee's and thou's" in my prayers. And I
expect to heard from God in simple everyday English. But more importantly, I need to have, and I think God wants, complete honesty in the conversation.  I believe God wants you to be "real"or honest in yur conversation with Him.  That's part of a true friendship. If I am feeling lousy and depressed or angry, These feelings need to be expressed.  If I am the opposite, share that with God as well.  The key is to become attuned to God. Have you ever seen a couple who are so in touch with each other they seem to know what the others wants and  needs?  God already knows what you want and need before you say it, but won't it be exciting to know what God wants before He asks you for it?  That's what prayer is all about; getting into a oneness relationship with God.

Jesus was especially big on things being done for the right reasons.  (Frankly, that is one of the struggles I have in writing these articles. Am I doing it to be noticed or am I doing it for the "right" reasons.) He wanted good works done, but wanted them done in secret less they be done to "show off".  He said not to fast by wearing sack cloth and ashes.(Matthew 6:16-18 NIV)  When you fast, wear your best clothes so others will not know you are fasting.  Giving alms and doing good works are best done in secret. (Matthew 6:1-4 NIV)  In fact, Jesus coined a phrase we use today.  "Do not let your right hand know what your left is doing."  The whole point of secrecy was to do things because the things themselves were important not because they would cause others to think more highly of you.

Prayer is much the same. (Matthew 6:5-8 NIV)  I love this translation from the Bible Version "The Message"

5"And when you come before God, don't turn that into a theatrical production either. All these people making a regular show out of their prayers, hoping for stardom! Do you think God sits in a box seat?
Find that still quiet place to focus on God
 6"Here's what I want you to do: Find a quiet, secluded place so you won't be tempted to role-play before God. Just be there as simply and honestly as you can manage. The focus will shift from you to God, and you will begin to sense his grace.
 7-13"The world is full of so-called prayer warriors who are prayer-ignorant. They're full of formulas and programs and advice, peddling techniques for getting what you want from God. Don't fall for that nonsense. This is your Father you are dealing with, and he knows better than you what you need. With a God like this loving you, you can pray very simply.

We are instructed to find a quiet place to focus on God, close the door and pray in secret. God who hears in secret will reward you.  Where is you room? or your closet as the KJV says?  Sometimes I turn off the radio in the car and talk to God as I travel to and from work.  I am sure other motorist think I am crazy talking in the car with no one in the seat beside me.  I even talk out loud to God.  You would be surprised how difficult it is to talk to God, out load, using common language. But it is my "room" for a short while with no interruptions.

Imagine this conversation in my car, "Hey God, sure glad you are here.  I just had a lousy day, my boss was irritable and he took it out on the rest of us.  I sure glad to be going home to a good supper. Doris was the best decision I have made. I'm kind of worried about this blog, what do you think?" And so the conversation goes with me occasionally taking a breath so God can get in a word. I once heard a small voice, or thought, saying, "Would you stop talking?"  But this is the way friends talk.  This is the way I talked to my earthy father. And I believe this is the way I need to talk to my Abba Father.

Which reminds me of something else Jesus said about prayer. "...and when you pray, do not 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" (Matthew 6:7-8 NIV) (italics mine)

I'll save other thoughts about prayer for the next post.  But the keys here are; Decide who you are praying to. Find a place to pray where you are not distracted and can focus on God. Be quiet and give God a chance to talk back to you, He may have something you need to hear. Don't keep talking or babbling.  The number of words used does not guarantee God will hear you. Your Father knows what you need before you know.


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