Friday, 31 May 2019

Teach us to Pray

Teach us to Pray
How  to Pray

                Jesus prayed and taught his disciples to pray.
As believers, we are called to pray because this is the way we communicate with God. We may not understand exactly how prayer works but we know that God asks us to come to him. When John the Baptist was preparing the way for Jesus, he taught his followers the tradition of prayer. Even though the disciples of Jesus were Jewish and would have memorized the Psalms and shared in Sabbath prayers or their lives, praying in their every day was not how they lived. Remembering that this was a time before all could read and write the disciples wanted to know how to pray.
                Prayer is a lifetime pursuit. Even those who have prayed their entire lives have not truly mastered having meaningful interactions with God. Jesus’ response to this question is in how he teaches them to pray what we know as “The Lord’s Prayer” which begins “Our Father,..”
                Prayer to our Father- “Father” refers to God as the Creator. God the Father is in relationship with us his children and even though we might not all feel comfortable saying Our “FATHER” we might remember that God as a loving parent is always with us- we who are connected as brothers and sisters. So we pray in community with each other.
                Pray in Jesus’ name. Often we end our prayers saying “In Jesus’ name, Amen.” We read in John 14:13 “And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son” When we pray in Jesus’ name we speak not in our own power but in the name of the One who has all authority in heaven and earth. Our lives and prayers must align with that which honours Christ.
                Pray in the Spirit, The Spirit helps us in our weakness especially in those time when we might be conflicted as to what to ask for. The Spirit intercedes for us through wordless groans from our hearts.  The Spirit is the intercessor our helper when we don’t know what to say or when our prayers don’t seem perfect. The Spirit knows our hearts and knows the Father and in that gap the Spirit is.
                Approach God Confidently. When we pray we are to approach God filled with confidence so that we may receive mercy and grace from God who will help us in our times of need.
                Pray continually. We are to live in constant conversation with the One who loves us. We address Him when we wake up; we worship Him when we see the sunrise; we give thanks for our daily bread at breakfast; we praise Him for work and ask for skill in engaging in it; we pray that our love will abound and that God will use us to share the gospel; we lament over broken relationship and we talk to Him about traffic while driving. We may seek His guidance and strength when challenged, or impatient or needing to comfort another person. We pray for our government, country and world leaders. As long as we are awake we invite Him into our lives.
                We are also to pray in devotion, alertness and with thanks. Paul’s instruction to the Colossians tell us to ‘devote yourselves to prayer being watchful and thankful.” This means to be set apart and ready. We are also to be thankful otherwise we are only making a shopping list of what we want and need. Prayer consists of praise, lament, confession, requests for others and for ourselves and thanks.
                Pray without using words—silence, sitting or standing in an attitude of quiet and waiting in God’s presence. Silent prayer is reflective of “Be still and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.” Ps 46:9-10.
How do you pray and for what/whom? Jesus’ disciples wanted and needed to learn to pray and we all learn and continue to learn about prayer because it is our way of communicating with God. But how do you pray? What do you say or do you keep silence? How does praying help you grow in your relationship with Jesus- God- Spirit?
PRAYER Our FATHER God  of love we praise you and thank you for the gift of prayer. We thank you that Jesus took the time to teach his disciples about prayer. We thank you that Paul also wrote about the need for prayers in our lives not just occasionally but continually1 help us to delve into our being and share our thoughts and feelings with you so that you will answer with love and hope. We ask in Jesus’ name. Amen
RESOURCE:  Sandra Glahn, “Teach Us to Pray,” Grand Rapids, MI: Our Daily Bread Ministries, p.19-29.

Sunday, 19 May 2019

Teach us to Pray How NOT to Pray

Teach us to Pray
How NOT to Pray

                               There are different ways to pray and there are
significant ways and times not to pray: 1) 1) praying even those there are broken relationships:   Jesus taught his disciples that if someone has unresolved conflict while they are on the way to engage in spiritual practices, that person should first stop and resolve the conflict before proceeding. Not everyone will respond to reconciliation but to initiate restoration is a good way to prepare to pray.
2) praying to get human praise: Jesus also had little tolerance for those who prayed, fasted and gave money so that everyone would see their good works. But prayer should focus on the goodness of God not on how great we are. People who pray to improve their standing in the court of public opinion receive nothing more from God, having already been paid in full in the form of human applause.
3) praying with too many words, or repeating words meaninglessly  Jesus also criticized those who pray long prayers in public and engage in meaningless repetition. Short prayers in public- long prayers in private. Think about what you are saying as you pray.  A good resource for prayers when you are not sure what to pray is praying the Psalms- as these are prayers written by people who have experienced similar things to you:  Psalm 150—if overwhelmed by God’s greatness-  ways to praise; Psalm 23- assurance;  Psalm 2 angry about injustice; Psalm 51  confession of sin\
4) Pray for others-focus on the spiritual needs of others.
Reflect for a moment about how you have prayed in the past. Have you prayed with a broken relationship on your heart? Have you prayed because the attention would be on you? What about repeating same phrases and statements just to be heard by other people? How much of your prayer time is about the needs of others? Do you really thank God?
What do you think of the suggestion ”short prayers in public, long prayers in private”? Do you practise prayer this way?

PRAYER God of grace we praise you for the gift of prayer and being able to talk with you about anything. Hel us to be aware of the needs of others and to bring these to you as we praise your name. Amen.

RESOURCE:  Sandra Glahn, “Teach Us to Pray,” Grand Rapids, MI: Our Daily Bread Ministries, p.15-18

Thursday, 9 May 2019

Teach us to Pray The Object of Prayer

Teach us to Pray
The Object of Prayer

                The one we draw near to in prayer is so great, it’s only logical that we His creatures should approach Him in humility”. So states Sandra Glahn. 
Peter wrote to suffering Christians that we are to humble ourselves under God because he cares for us. Prayer makes a difference in our lives so we can tell him about our cares and our concerns. God loves us and is ‘near to all who call on him to all who call on him in truth.” (Psalm 145:18) God invites us to draw near and He promises that if we do, He will draw near to us.
                But what about the power of prayer?  As Christians we underestimate the power we invoke through prayer. God is so much power and yet He listens to what we ask. Even though he has created billions of stars in the many galaxies of the universe, he still hears the prayers of individuals. Prayer is “talking with the invisible, speak-worlds-into being, keeps tracks of all stars sent His Son for us God.” Because God is invisible we sometimes wonder if God really hears us when we pray and rain does not fall, when we ask for healing and it does not happen. But we should not give up but to pray continually. So often we are tempted to give up because we might feel that our prayers are not going anywhere. Yet Jesus said, “Ask and it will be given to you.” Petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving prayers are to be made for all people and God will hear and respond.
                To whom do you pray? What are you saying/asking/ sharing? Do you believe your prayers are answered your way or by God’s ways? Sometimes we may not like the answers we get—yes, no, maybe- not yet. But God does answer. The key thing about prayer is to do it and never quit. What we ask for might need to be modified and changed- but how we speak and share our thoughts with God goes beyond the words we say. For God knows our needs before we ask. God knows our joy and wonder, hurts and pains and is ready always to hear us. Just pray.
Have you ever felt that your prayers were left unanswered or totally opposite to what you wanted? What does this mean for us as we pray? God does answer prayer but He also knows the full picture of what your life involves and the choices you made. God’s answers to your prayers are intended to help and guide you. If you have concerns or questions, God will help! Just talk with God!
Holy God we praise you for the gift of prayer-being able to talk with you and seeking your guidance and strength in all that we do. Hear our prayers and in your love, answer. Amen.

RESOURCE:  Sandra Glahn, “Teach Us to Pray,” Grand Rapids, MI: Our Daily Bread Ministries, p.1-14