Week of Nov. 20: Praying as God's people is core of our relationship
By VICKY BRANTLEY and JOHN BRANTLEY
Scripture: Matthew 6:5-15
O Lord, teach us to pray. Amen.
When Robert Louis Stevenson was a boy, he once remarked to his mother, "Momma, you can't be good without praying."
"How do you know, Robert?" she asked.
"Because I've tried!" he answered.
Prayer is a relationship we share with our creator and redeemer. Without regular communication, we lose the close personal contact we can and should have. Prayer is our lifeline to God.
A Praying People
United Methodists have been called the “singing Methodists” because of our great tradition of sharing the faith through songs and hymns. But for all the great music available, it is noise and rhythm only if it lacks conversation with God. We may not all sing the same hymns and choruses these days, but we do need to center our efforts as the “praying people” called United Methodists.
Prayer is the core of our relationship with God in Christ Jesus. If we are diligent and faithful in our prayers during our everyday routine, we will find it much easier to talk to God when we face difficulties or crises. When we unite with the United Methodist Church, we promise to support the church with our prayers. This should not be an idle promise that we make and then file away.
Prayer is the way we seek to know God and God’s will in our life. It is the way we maintain our relationship with God. It is how we express our praise and thanksgiving to God for all the good gifts that are ours. It is the way we confess our sins and seek forgiveness and to be better servants of God. Prayer is essential to our lives.
C. S. Lewis wrote, “The moment you wake up each morning, all your wishes and hopes for the day rush at you like wild animals. And the first job each morning consists in shoving it all back; in listening to that other voice, taking that other point of view, letting that other, larger, stronger, quieter life come flowing in.”
Prayers in Secret
A man took his young son to eat at a diner. When the food was served, he said, "Son, we'll just have a silent prayer." Dad got through praying first and waited for the boy to finish his prayer, but he just sat with his head bowed for an unusually long time. When he finally looked up, his father asked him, "What in the world were you praying about all that time?"
With the innocence and honesty of a child, he replied, "How do I know? It was a silent prayer." Prayers can be personal and intimate and should be the connecting cord between us and God. But silent prayer is not the only appropriate kind of prayer. Some prayers are communal and collective, and prayer needs to be taught to others.
If we are all praying in the closet, we can’t teach each other how to communicate with God or each other. Robert E. Lee wrote, “Knowing that intercessory prayer is our mightiest weapon and the supreme call for all Christians today, I pleadingly urge our people everywhere to pray. Believing that prayer is the greatest contribution that our people can make in this critical hour, I humbly urge that we take time to pray--to really pray.
Let there be prayer at sunup, at noonday, at sundown, at midnight--all through the day. Let us all pray for our children, our youth, our aged, our pastors, our homes. Let us pray for our churches. Let us pray for ourselves, that we may not lose the word 'concern' out of our Christian vocabulary. Let us pray for our nation. Let us pray for those who have never known Jesus Christ and redeeming love, for moral forces everywhere, for our national leaders. Let prayer be our passion. Let prayer be our practice.”
A Common Prayer for Uncommon Times
The collection of praises and petitions that have come to be known as the Lord’s Prayer is a great institution crossing denominational lines through geography, language and history. Prayer has that kind of power, even when we use different words than this one traditional set. Prayer is the unifying voice of the people of God. If we are not praying together, then we are not living in community together. Get to praying!
Though we memorize it as a formula, the Lord's Prayer shouldn't be repeated mechanically or without thought. Its purpose is to awaken and stimulate our faith. Through this prayer Jesus invites us to approach God as Father. Indeed, the Lord's Prayer has been called a summary of the gospel.
The Lord’s prayer, or the "our Father prayer," is prayed daily by thousands of Christians, and can be seen as a model for our prayers.
It starts by addressing God as our Father in heaven, that although His name is honored, and above all other names, we are His children. As such, we occupy a place of privilege, and He wants us to spend time in prayer with Him.
The Lord’s prayer then moves on to pray that God's Kingdom, or rule, will become the norm on earth, replacing human rules and governments, which too often are driven by greed and power. Only then do we turn to our own needs, and ask our Father for our basic human needs to be satisfied, and that He would forgive the wrong things that we have done.
We ask for God's guidance and protection as we journey through life. Finally we turn back to God, and acknowledge His supremacy and position as the Almighty ruler.
Take Action: Select a place in your home that becomes your personal prayer spot. Claim and use it with the same regularity that you eat, brush your teeth, sleep, and work.
“There is a place of quiet rest, near to the heart of God; a place where sin cannot molest, near to the heart of God.” Hymn #471 The United Methodist Hymnal