Matthew 6:5-15 – How to Pray

Read Matthew 6:5-15

Who better to learn prayer from than the Master himself. Jesus is giving us a model to follow. Did you recognize the prayer? In the tradition I grew up in, we prayed that every Sunday. The Lord’s Prayer was something we memorized as a young child. In Confirmation classes, we unpacked the meaning for a deeper understanding of what we had been saying over and over.

It’s easy to get lazy when we say something over and over. It’s almost like being on autopilot. We need to be careful to not just go through the motions but truly be present in the moment saying the words as if we were saying them for the first time. Jesus also cautioned us not to be like hypocrites, drawing attention to ourselves when we pray.

Continue reading “Matthew 6:5-15 – How to Pray”

Ephesians 3:1-13 – God’s Mysterious Plan

Read Ephesians 3:1-13

We are part of God’s mysterious plan. It was kept hidden until God chose to reveal it to Paul. As followers of Jesus, we share in the same blessings God’s chosen people have been given. When we believe in the Good News, that is in Jesus’ saving grace, we are given access to God.

When you understand the history and how people feared God, we can see how this is a really big deal. Jesus has come and revealed himself to us as God. We now have great treasures available to us. Do you have a hard time believing it? Continue reading “Ephesians 3:1-13 – God’s Mysterious Plan”

James 5:13-20 – Prayer is Powerful

Read James 5:13-20

The answer is the same – PRAY! The question could be, “What should I do next?” or “How am I ever going to make it through this day” or “Am I ever going to be well again?” Pray. Pray. Pray.

If you are searching for something or troubled by circumstance, pray. Prayers are answered everyday.

Do you ever wonder why your prayers aren’t answered. Could it be that they were just answered differently than you would have hoped?

Did you offer your prayer in faith? What does that mean to you? To me, it means I pray to God with the faith and assurance that he is going to answer my prayer according to his will. If we are praying outside his will for us, it is likely to be answered differently than we were hoping.

We used to use the first half of verse 16, in our recovery ministry. “Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed.” There is a lot of power in confessing your wrongs to another person. Sometimes it’s easier than confessing the same sin to God. Together, you can pray to God, for each other, and miraculous healing can take place. It’s almost like a double cleansing.

When we keep our sins and wrongdoings to ourselves, the guilt or shame can only fester inside us until we release it. What sin are you holding tight to, wanting to keep hidden from view?

The second half of verse 16, “The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results.” If we are right with God (righteous) our prayers will have more power. Our hearts are right and in direct alignment with  God’s will and plan for us. It is also more likely that our prayers won’t be for something outside of God’s will anyway, and therefore the results will be more dramatic. God looks at our hearts.

The book of James ends with  an observation about the one missing from the fold. God’s heart longs for his missing sheep that have wandered off. We all know one or more of these folks. They may be people who grew up in the faith but then walked away during college or as a young adult. Or perhaps they were new followers who were never connected with a church fellowship to shepherd them. Or perhaps it’s someone we see in church every Sunday but who has  never embraced a relationship with God.

James adds, “whoever brings the sinner back from wandering will save that person from death and bring about the forgiveness of many sins.” We need to be that “whoever” and be watching for those brothers and sisters who have wandered off.

There are so many enticements in the world, as there have always been. It is our job to be strong and rise above and conquer. Yet, the little voices in our heads can be so convincing – “sleep in on Sunday, you deserve it” or “go ahead, nobody is watching.”

Don’t believe it. God is watching. God is waiting. We need to be praying and keeping ourselves connected to our creator.

Let’s pray. Lord thank you for the open line of communication we have with you to pray at all times. When something doesn’t go my way, help me overcome the disappointment. Instead of questioning why, may I turn to you and rely on your comfort and redirection. I know you heart longs for those lost to you to return. Use me God to help shepherd them back so they can have life and be forgiven. Lead me to those opportunities. Use our business and the contacts we make. Bless it for your purposes. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Psalm 143 – Hear My Prayer

Read Psalm 143

This psalm really has some juicy nuggets in it. There are so many requests going on. Remember that movie when Jim Carrey played God, I think it was Bruce Almighty. Well, I remember a scene where he was hearing all the prayer requests and he was overwhelmed. Couldn’t fathom at first how God could ever answer all of them.

I know that is a silly example, but it’s true. When we think of all the prayers God hears and he answers them all. In this psalm alone, we see David praying that (1) God will come quickly, (2) God not turn away, (3) God be heard every morning, (4) God show him the path, (5) God rescue from enemies, (6) God teach, (7) God silence enemies, (8) God destroy foes and so on. That is a relatively short prayer, but it is sure packed with requests.

But note, amidst the requests, there are beautiful affirmations. God is faithful and righteous, has done great works, shows unfailing love, and is gracious. God appreciates our adoration, and that should be the easy part of our prayers. Easy, but often forgotten.

Think about your prayer life. When you talk to God is it conversational or more like a plea full of requests? Do you shower him with praise and adoration, telling him of his greatness? Do you come with a grateful heart?

Do you think of God as your best friend or as a untouchable deity? The psalmist seems to be doing a good job of doing both. He is raw in his cries for help but mindful of who he is praying to.

Our prayers don’t need to be elaborate. They just need to be. We need to be talking with God and sharing our lives with him. Sure, he knows what we think before we think it and all of that, but he yearns to hear it come from us. He longs for a relationship with his children.

Reflect on your prayer life and how you can make it more meaningful for you and for God.

Let’s pray. Lord you are majestic and mighty. You have made all that is, and the beauty of your creation astounds me. Thank you that you have put me in your world to enjoy you in this way. Forgive me when I forge on ahead before bringing you into the plan. I want you to be Lord of my life. Guide me and move me in the direction you want me to go. Help me to listen for your voice. In Jesus’ name. Amen.