Twitter Updates 2.2.1: FeedWitter

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Prayer

Prayer can take many forms and is commonplace among many different religions.  Here are a few different kinds of ways that people commonly use to approach God:
  • Petition/Supplication:  this is asking God for something (wisdom, health, victory...).  Petitions are short.  Supplications are usually longer.
  • Intercession:  this is praying for another person (sickness, spiritual health, tough times/decisions...)
  • Thanksgiving:  this is simply thanking God for whatever (this should be consistent, but is often overlooked, especially when times get tough)
  • Faith:  this is boldly proclaiming a truth out loud!
  • Committal:  this is dedicating yourself to God...letting Him be first.
These are a few examples of prayers, and if you google search different types of prayers, you will have the joy of searching through over 3,700,000 results.  There are plenty of different types of prayers to search through, study, evaluate, and try.

I remember Vacation Bible School at Fellowship Baptist Church in High Ridge, Missouri.  A main focus of the week was memorizing Bible verses for candy and prizes.  Well, at least I thought that's what it was for at the time.  Turns out I still remember a lot of those verses and they are foundational in my life today. Go figure!  Anyway, one of the passages I memorized taught me about prayer.  It reads like this:

"This, then, is how you should pray:
‘Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, 
your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. 
Give us today our daily bread. 
And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. 
And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one, 
for yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen'."
Matthew 6:9-13

It's simply called "The Lord's Prayer."  Of all the prayers around the world, I figured this would be a good one to learn since God's Son is instructing us.  He's a pretty good teacher.  I love the simplicity as well as the order that Jesus' prayer in Matthew 6 reveals.  
  • Start with God.  It's all about Him.  Spend some time recognizing His Name.  Honor who He is.  Ancient Hebrews wouldn't audibly pronounce the name of God out of reverence for who He was.  I think that's cool.  
  • God's Kingdom:  do you think about it often?  Does it dominate your thoughts?  Are you existing to serve His Kingdom or just go through life with your agenda?  God's Kingdom should be on our minds all the time.
  • Bread.  Daily bread.  God always provides.  Creation.  Freedom from exile.  Manna in the wilderness.  The Promised Land.  Jesus.  The church.  God has and will always provide our needs...not necessarily our wants.  Contentment is key.
  • Forgiveness is absolutely necessary.  If we want our sins to be forgiven, Jesus challenges us to have a forgiving spirit.  We are asking God to forgive us according to how we forgive others.  Challenging and powerful.
  • Temptation isn't a sin.  Giving in to temptation is.  Just because you are experiencing temptation doesn't mean God has gone anywhere.  Remember, He's always bigger than Satan.  Always has been and always will be.
  • A closing reminder that God's Kingdom is where real life is found.  Serving others like Jesus served.  Having His attitude...that's a life that's worth living.  Be thankful for such an opportunity.
Pretty cool stuff.  Some great, practical thoughts Jesus throws out here.  Then, later on in the New Testament, we come across this verse:

"Never stop praying."
1 Thessalonians 5:17

Really?  Never?  What about when I'm driving?  How about after I'm done praying and starting to eat?  Do I have to keep praying as I shovel food into my mouth?  What about my evening prayers?  Do I just start in and keep going till I fall asleep?  But then I've stopped, unless I dreampray?  Would that count as a real prayer?

Paul is writing about prayer, but he's challenging us to not just pray with our words but with our lives.  Look again at the Lord's prayer.  

What would it look like if you focused on God all day...in all you do?  What if you had a forgiving spirit about you all the time, not just the couple of times a day you pray?  What if you constantly depended on God instead of just admonishing your need and dependance on God a few times a week or before you eat your meals?  What would it look like if your life was driven and reflective of the Lord's prayer?  

Serving God is an amazing privilege.  Don't take it for granted.  Focus on God often and live for Him always.  Have a great week living a prayer-led life.  Stay strong.