The Way: Prayer--Conversations with God
Who taught you how to pray? Jesus taught His Disciples and through them and The Word, He taught us. Jesus communicated with The Father via prayer. He expects us to do the same daily. He also expects us to act on the things we are praying about. Prayer is not meant to be passive.
Pastor Rick in Voorhees summarized the series about Prayer in today’s sermon. If you think today’s world is broken, remember the earliest followers of Christ were persecuted and killed for their beliefs. The right to communicate with their creator was put to the test daily. Yet they not only persisted, but their lifestyle attracted others to the “way” they were living. Consequently, the new church grew despite persecution. We, like them, are expected to become more like Christ for the sake of others.
Pastor Jeff in Mt. Laurel discussed the reasons why we pray. First to show your love for God by following His greatest commandment, and secondly, because it works. He mentioned that the expansion into Mt. Laurel began with 30 days of prayer just as 28 years ago, the church in Voorhees was begun in with a campaign of prayer.
We have a responsibility to pray. Jesus expects to hear from us daily. Did you ever have knowledge that your child had done something, but you waited for him/her to bring it up in conversation? God knows all, but He waits for us to show trust in him by bringing our concerns to him in prayer. He also wants to see if you just talk or can listen as well. Both Pastors talked about how to pray. Pastor Jeff cautioned against prayer ruts: patterns of prayer that become too narrow in scope.
God expects that we will have faith in His response and accept it, whether the answer is yes, no, or wait. We also have a responsibility to act on the topics we pray about. Prayers without actions are just empty words. Ask yourself how many times you’ve used the phrase, “I’ll pray for you,” and then did nothing else. You can see why people in crises cynically answer back, “Save your prayers; we need real help.” We have a responsibility to pray for and help others.
Pastor Rick mentioned “Uncle Milt,” a camp counselor who impressed him with a gentle, pure, simple style of prayer. My paternal grandmother taught me about prayer by example. Whenever I was with her, there was a moment when she would be sitting quietly with a look on her face as if she was communicating with someone felt yet unseen. Often her Bible would be by her side. I remember asking, “What are you doing?” Her answer was always, “Talking with God.” She made it seem like God was in the room with us. When I asked, “What do you talk about?’ Her answer was, “Anything and everything.”
However, when pressed, she told me two things about prayer that I never forgot. “Don’t pray for things; pray for strength and understanding. Pray for others, even your enemies.” Pleading ignorance, I asked her to pray out loud, so I could hear how she prayed. I noticed that it usually started with a request for strength, an identification of and a thank you for blessings, a meager request for self, consideration for others, and a “Your will be done” ending. When asked what she wanted for herself, she would respond “I have been given enough. I have exactly what I need.” When asked whether this was the right way, she would say, “Don’t worry about the right way, just pray.”
In today’s society, we casually talk about our (Bff’s) best friend(s). Pressed for a definition, most would say, “We can talk about anything and everything. This person totally gets me and loves me unconditionally.” Keep that in mind when you are talking about Jesus as your best friend, be sure to include “He is ever present, will always guide you, will never leave you and will show you the way.” How hurt would you be if you learned about something regarding your best friend that he/she should have told you? How hurt is God when He knows everything about you and yet you try to hide your feelings, needs, or truth?
Pastor Rick related communicating with God to good parenting. A good parent knows the child, provides what is necessary including things which a child may not understand. A good parent provides the balance between wants and needs.
The bottom line is simple: Jesus is your best friend. Communicate with Him daily. Trust that He will guide you in the right direction even if you don’t see it at the time. Lead others to the same realization.