So, I wanted to share some thoughts with you this week from my sermon on Sunday. Recently, I’ve been talking about how to have a closer relationship with God. As I was studying last week, I came across a video on prayer that said, “Prayer takes work.” I think there are a lot of people who immediately recoil at this. It seems like prayer should just come naturally.
If you think about it though, this makes sense. Even with our own friends, conversations take work. If you’re talking with someone you’ve just met, things might be a little awkward as you get to know each other. But, as that relationship grows, it gets easier. For me, it’s easy to understand that and apply it to prayer.
Whenever this subject has come up, either just from looking at some survey online or discussing it in small groups, it seems like people want to have a better prayer life. However, more often than not, prayer seems to be the first thing to fall by the wayside when we get caught up in the business in life. I know I’ve been guilty of that.
All too often, prayer is used almost like a grocery list. We list off the things we want to God then tack on a nice little, “if it be your will” just to be safe, and then go about our business. Often times its when things are going well or when things get busy that we neglect prayer. But turn to it as soon as things get bad.
What we read in the Bible is completely different from this. Paul charges us to, “Pray without ceasing.” When Jesus raises Lazarus from the tomb, he prays to God and says this, “Father, I thank you that you have heard me. I knew that you always hear me, but I said this for the benefit of the people standing here, that they may believe that you sent me.” (John 11:41-42) Before Jesus says this for the people to hear, he was ALREADY praying silently.
As I started to formulate my thoughts for this Sunday, I looked over the Lord’s Prayer. It’s part of the Sermon on the Mount. However, it’s also repeated in Luke. Interestingly enough it’s the instructions Jesus gives his disciples after they ask him, “teach us to pray.” Apparently, it wasn’t so easy for them either.
Anyway, here is the Lord’s Prayer:
Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name.
Your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day 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 evil.
What I find striking and what I want to point out here is this, the prayer opens with praise to God. How do you start your prayers? What is the focus of them? I know what mine are, and I have to admit that all too often they emphasize the “daily bread” part just a bit too much. We have a lot to be thankful for. We have a lot to praise God for. I know I do. Let’s remember that when we pray.
If you’re looking for inspiration, just look around you. Kojima is on the ocean. Every day I ride my bike along the sea. I think about how amazing it is. God’s beauty is all around us in our world. Even in the desert, we see amazing rock formations and canyons. Even in flat farmlands we can see the vast, blue sky. God’s handiwork is everywhere. Things to be thankful for abound.
So here’s my goal. I want to get better at praying. My desire is always to grow in my faith, and so I’m going to try and start being more intentional about my prayers. Specifically as it relates to praising God.
Maybe you’re already super great at this. If so, great! Can you share any pointers on this topic? Because I would love some. If you aren’t though, let’s be intentional about our relationship with God. We are heirs with Christ, children of God, adopted into God’s family through Christ. God is our father, the creator of the universe, and he invites us to talk to him. That’s pretty amazing isn’t it? The God who created stars, galaxies, amoebas, and atoms invites us to talk to him. Let’s take advantage of that and go to God in prayer.