Jul 012016
 

Our fatherPray then like this: Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name. (Matthew 6:9)

Last week we looked at a number of reasons to pray, mainly because God has invited us to and through Jesus given us an example of how to do it. Jesus prayed a lot and I’m sure His disciples wondered what the secret was. In fact I know they wondered because they asked him outright in the parallel passage to the Lord’s prayer in Luke 1. They asked “Teach us to pray.” I don’t know about you, but prayer doesn’t come naturally to me and I find it to be the hardest discipline to do in the Christian life. That is why, when Jesus responds to our request to teach us, we had better sit up and take notice.

At the outset I want to make clear that Jesus is not just giving an example prayer to repeat. Just say these words and that will do. When it says “pray then like this” it means ‘pray in this manner’ or ‘this is the sort of thing you should pray’. It is not saying ‘repeat these exact words’. I believe Jesus is giving us a template, a group of headings if you like, to help us pray effectively.

The first heading “Our father in heaven, hallowed be your name” is packed with amazing truth and the best way we should start all our prayers. Let me just unpack a few thoughts to help us.

There is no other religion past and present that would presume to call their god “Father”. It is an absolutely extraordinary statement and we have sadly lost the wonder of it through over-familiarity. It is true that the scribes and Pharisee’s would have been aware that God had revealed himself as a father in a couple of places in the Old Testament. Amongst others:-

for I am a father to Israel, and Ephraim is my firstborn. (Jeremiah 31:9)

When Israel was a child, I loved him, and out of Egypt I called my son. (Hosea 11:1)

But now, O LORD, You are our Father, We are the clay, and You our potter; and all of us are the work of Your hand. (Isaiah 64:8)

But there is a big difference between having the concept of God being a father figure over a nation and coming to God individually and calling Him ‘Father’.

This concept can be quite difficult for some people. The word ‘father’ can have very negative connotations. Some earthly fathers can be distant, cruel and even violent and can cloud our understanding of what a true father should be. We need to read and meditate on the bible and see how God reveals himself as a loving, kind and forgiving father. A good example of the sort of father that God has revealed himself to be is found in the parable of the prodigal son in Luke 15. The more we meditate on that sort of father, the more we can appreciate what God is truly like. What a comforting thought to start our prayers with, we come to a God who is for us and passionate about us, who loves us and wants the absolute best for us.

It mentions that our father is in heaven, this is not referring to its physical position but focuses on the fact that He is ‘other’ and different from His creation. Heaven is the place of His majesty and glory. He is above us, lofty and transcendent. It’s the place of His rule and control. It distinguishes the one true God from pale imitations. He is in heaven, they are not.

So what does “hallowed be your name mean?”

The word ‘hallow’ means to sanctify or make holy or treat as holy. It is an intense desire that God’s name would be recognised and made known, that it would be set apart and adored, I believe this is a request or a petition and not a declaration. It comes from a heart of worship. The best thing to do when praying is to start with worship. Honouring and revering God starts us off on the right foot. We are not principally coming with a list of wants or concerns and demands. It is not a list of things that are troubling us at the moment that we rattle off. The reason we are worshipping is to give reverence and respect to the one we are approaching.

God’s name is multi-faceted. It means many things in the bible and has many aspects and characteristics. Some examples are:

· The Lord our righteousness (Jeremiah 23:5-6)

· The Lord who heals (Exodus 15:25-26)

· The Lord who provides (Genesis 22:1-14)

· The Lord our shepherd (Psalm 23:1)

· And many, many more.

As you encounter these names in your bible reading, use them in your prayers back to God. If, for instance, you know someone who needs healing, pray that His name would be honoured through their healing.

What a wonderful platform to start a prayer. A declaration that the loving father, who is close and approachable, is also seated above all things in heaven and is in control. That same God has revealed many aspects of His character and can meet all of our needs as we pray to Him.

Next week we will look at what it means when it says “Your kingdom come.”

 July 1, 2016  Posted by at 12:00 pm Prayer, The sermon on the mount No Responses »
Jun 242016
 

WhyPrayDo not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him. (Matthew 6:8)

Just before we start an in-depth look at the Lord’s prayer, let’s consider why we need to pray in the first place. If our father in heaven knows what we need before we ask Him, why should we bother? After all it is quite clear in the bible that God does know all things;

He determines the number of the stars; he gives to all of them their names. (Psalm 147:4)

O Lord, you have searched me and known me!You know when I sit down and when I rise up; you discern my thoughts from afar.You search out my path and my lying down and are acquainted with all my ways. (Psalm 139:1-3)

(1) Because He has asked us to!

You might even say He has commanded it. Jesus gave a parable encouraging us to pray “And he told them a parable to the effect that they ought always to pray and not lose heart.” (Luke 18:1) It was the parable of the persistent widow.

(2) Because He wills it

It is amazing that the sovereign God, the one who created all things and controls them should want us to pray. It is a mystery, but clear in scripture that He does:

Ask of me, and I will make the nations your heritage, and the ends of the earth your possession. (Psalm 2:8)

Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. (Matthew 7:7)

(3) So that we rely on Him

Another mystery that’s difficult to fathom is that God wants a relationship with us. He loves to be consulted and asked and just simply to talk with us. But oftentimes we don’t pray until the situation gets desperate. The story of Jonah is a case in point

Then Jonah prayed to the Lord his God from the belly of the fish,saying,“I called out to the Lord, out of my distress, and he answered me; out of the belly of Sheol I cried, and you heard my voice. (Jonah 2:1-2)

Even when we’ve been completely disobedient, God still wants us to pray

(4) He wants our obedience

Sometimes, we just need to trust that God knows best. If He has asked us to pray, it is for a very good reason and we won’t always know what that reason is! Are you obedient? Here’s a sobering verse:

You do not have, because you do not ask. (James 4:2)

(5) Because prayer changes things

Of course God knows our needs, but like an encouraging parent, he dignifies us and helps us experience the joy of seeing things happen through our prayers. He wants to partner with us and that we should learn and grow through this partnering relationship.

There are many other wonderful aspects of prayer we could look into and I just want to finish with a few more thoughts:

· We pray because we love. We are in a relationship with God and we want to spend time with Him.

· We want to know God more fully. Not just to get things but to know Him One thing have I asked of the Lord, that will I seek after: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord and to enquire in his temple. (Psalm 27:4)

· We pray to acknowledge our dependence on God: In him we live and move and have our being (Acts 17:28)

· We pray so that God might receive glory – It’s all about His name and reputation

Finally, we are followers of Jesus and He actually prayed quite a lot!

Next week we will start to look at ‘The Lord’s prayer’ and discover Jesus’ richest teaching on prayer.

 June 24, 2016  Posted by at 12:00 pm Prayer, The sermon on the mount No Responses »
Jun 172016
 

Babbling like pagansAnd when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. (Matthew 6:7 NIV)

This week we continue on the subject of praying and Jesus again turns to how we should not pray. I’ve used the New International Version this week because I was quite interested in the phrase “Babbling like Pagans” and wondered what it meant. From the outset, I want to make it clear that I don’t think all pagans babble, just in case any happen to stumble upon this blog and get offended. It’s not exactly clear from historical evidence what Jesus was referring to and perhaps the ESV makes it a little clearer. That says “Do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do”. The truth is the word translated ‘babble’ here is not found at all in the rest of the bible or any other ancient manuscripts. We don’t really know how to translate it. Jesus was certainly aware that some people tried to impress God by using religious language or using certain phrases over and over again.

I imagine that Jesus may have in mind the story in the Old Testament where Elijah takes on the prophets of Baal in 1 Kings. It has always been one of my favourite bible stories. Elijah has basically challenged the prophets to a dual to see which God will answer their prayers and send fire from heaven. The prophets of Baal have already been praying all morning;

And at noon Elijah mocked them, saying, “Cry aloud, for he is a god. Either he is musing, or he is relieving himself, or he is on a journey, or perhaps he is asleep and must be awakened.” And they cried aloud and cut themselves after their custom with swords and lances, until the blood gushed out upon them. 29 And as midday passed, they raved on until the time of the offering of the oblation, but there was no voice. No one answered; no one paid attention. (1 Kings 18:27-29)

They said a lot and they did a lot, but firstly they were praying to the wrong God and secondly they were trying the wrong way to impress him.

The One true God has already been impressed with Jesus’ obedience and sacrifice and so when we come to God humbly, in Jesus’ name we stand a lot more chance of being heard.

We can certainly be guilty of vain repetitions. I have heard the Lord’s prayer quoted Verbatim almost as a mantra on many occasions and I rather think the point has been missed. As I intend to show you over the coming weeks, I believe the Lord’s prayer is a template with various prayer headings rather than a phrase to quote repetitively. I also believe that saying the rosary can be very similar, just quoting something over and over again to seek to obtain absolution. It’s as if we are trying to impress God by the number of times we pray ‘Hail Mary’(apart from the fact the ‘Hail Mary’ is praying to the wrong person!). These examples can certainly be ‘vain repetitions’.

I certainly don’t think Jesus is referring to the length of our prayers, because he sometimes prayed all night. Nor do I think he is saying not to repeat ourselves as Jesus himself prayed the same thing 3 times in the garden of Gethsemane (That God would take the cup from Him).

Some would say that praying in tongues would constitute babbling. I would take issue with this. Just because you don’t understand it, doesn’t mean it is babbling. You would be considered extremely insensitive if you went to a foreign country and described their language as babbling just because you didn’t understand it. Speaking in tongues is described in the bible as a heavenly language (1 Corinthians 13:1) so I would be very careful dismissively calling it ‘babbling’

For one who speaks in a tongue speaks not to men but to God; for no one understands him, but he utters mysteries in the Spirit. (1 Corinthians 14:2)

I would say that praying in tongues is the perfect antidote to repeating yourself unnecessarily!

We’ve considered quite a few ‘do nots’ so now let’s have a look at the sort of prayers that God does listen to;

Pray in faith

Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours. (Mark 11:24)

And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him. (Hebrews 11:6)

Approach God with humility and sincerity

When we come to Him we acknowledge His supremacy and we yield to His will. It’s not about us making our lists of demands, we humbly recognise our position before Him

For though the Lord is high, he regards the lowly, but the haughty he knows from afar. (Psalm 138:6)

Pray according to his will

And this is the confidence that we have towards him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us. (1 John 5:14)

We only need to open the pages of the bible to discover what God’s will is. It’s a really good habit to pray as you read. Ask the Holy Spirit to guide you as you do.

Praying through the Lord’s prayer is an excellent template as I said before and we will look at this over the next few weeks. I’ll leave you with more excellent advice from the bible on this subject, which puts it all quite simply:

Be not rash with your mouth, nor let your heart be hasty to utter a word before God, for God is in heaven and you are on earth. Therefore let your words be few. (Ecclesiastes 5:2)

 June 17, 2016  Posted by at 12:00 pm Prayer, The sermon on the mount No Responses »
Jun 102016
 

Praying in secretBut when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you. (Matthew 6:6)

In this part of ‘The sermon on the mount’ we are covering Jesus’ teaching on prayer. We are spending a few weeks alternating between how not to pray and how we should pray. Last week we looked at how not to pray – by praying to impress other people. This week Jesus talks about the correct attitude of praying – in secret. I don’t for one minute think that Jesus is condemning all types of public praying. There are instances in the bible where he prayed in public himself and the early church prayed in corporate prayer meetings often. In this passage, Jesus is not addressing corporate prayer, He is addressing private prayer between an individual and God.

Before we analyse the passage, let’s consider the awesome privilege we have in the first place of entering into any communication with Almighty God. The creator of the universe, the Holy God who dwells in unapproachable light has made Himself available to us. Jesus died to make a way into the father’s presence through His supreme sacrifice. God has not given in and said “Ok you can come to me if you want to” no, He has actively pursued us. He passionately desires a relationship with us because He loves us. Isn’t that amazing?

Going back to the passage, Jesus is saying “when you pray.” It is an assumption that we will. It certainly isn’t ‘if’. As Christians we have given submitted ourselves to God. What he wants for us matters. We have made Him Lord of our lives and so He now has control over us. We couldn’t be called followers if we had no interest in where He wants to take us.

Going into a room is not literal but symbolic. Not all followers of Jesus have a private place they can go to. Going into a room and closing a door is symbolic of finding a place where you can commune with the Lord privately. Shutting the door is an act of dedication of saying to God that “only you matter” This is ‘our’ time. For that reason, I don’t think it’s a good idea having your phone with you. To spend quality time with God we need to give Him our undivided attention. Jesus himself was constantly surrounded by people but He found time to be with the father. He would get up early in the morning or retreat to a solitary place.

We obviously can’t see God, so this discipline is a tremendous act of faith. We are exercising our faith every time we go to Him alone and consequently our faith will grow.

Jesus wants us to pray in private so that our motives are pure. If our communication is in secret it is not impressing anybody else. On our own we get His undivided attention, a personal audience with Him. The reward is God hearing our prayers and answering them. It reminds us of our dependence on Him. By praying behind closed doors you are showing that God means more to you than anybody or anything else.

It seems crazy, given the immense privilege we have, but praying to God, for the Christian, is one of the hardest disciplines to engage in. It takes great practice and commitment. If you don’t do it so much, don’t be discouraged, God wants to help you. Jesus’ disciples found it hard, so don’t be surprised if you do too. Over the next few weeks we will be investigating some amazing teaching on prayer. Let these blogs inspire you to go deeper into prayer and discover the delight of spending time with our amazing God.

Let me leave you this week with a poem;

Mid all the traffic of the ways,
Turmoils without, within,
Make in my heart a quiet place,
And come and dwell therein.

A little shrine of quietness,
All sacred to Thyself,
Where Thou shalt all my soul possess,
And I may find myself.

A little shelter from life’s stress,
Where I may lay me prone,
And bare my soul in loneliness,
And know as I am known.

A little place of mystic grace,
Of self and sin swept bare,
Where I may look upon Thy face,
And talk with Thee in prayer.

by William A Dunkerley

 June 10, 2016  Posted by at 12:00 pm Prayer, The sermon on the mount No Responses »
Jun 032016
 

And when you pray, you must not be like the hypocrites. For they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, that they may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. (Matthew 6:5)

For the last couple of weeks we’ve been looking at the subject of giving as one of the 3 main symbols of piety at the time of Jesus. This week, and for quite some time, we will be looking at the next symbol of piety that Jesus addresses – prayer. Jesus is going to give us the richest teaching on prayer ever taught, but first He is going to address the wrong way of praying – as showing off!

Jesus again uses the word ‘hypocrite’ to describe the people who love praying in public places. If you remember a couple of weeks ago, I said that a hypocrite was another word for an actor; someone who is putting on a show, playing a role of someone they are not. This was exactly what was going on here. These ‘prayers’ were all about the performance. It was all designed to show how pious they were.

The Synagogue and street corners were normal places to pray, because devout Jews would stop whatever they were doing at the appointed hour of the day and pray (much like Muslims do today). The appointed times were; 9am, midday and 3 in the afternoon and you can imagine these pious Jews making sure they were in a very public space at these times for maximum exposure! They were not seekers after God but seekers after popularity and honour. They just wanted to be seen and that was their reward (all of it!).

I don’t believe that Jesus was condemning all public prayer. As was very often the case, He was addressing his listener’s attitudes. He was showing them (and us) that we can very often be more worried about our reputation and what people think about us, than what God thinks. God is much more interested in our character than our reputation. One version of Philippians 2:7 is that Jesus made himself of ‘no reputation’ (New King James version). If Jesus wasn’t worried about His reputation, then neither should we.

I want to bring this closer to home and consider how this might look in our day. Very few of us have access to a synagogue or are likely to stand on street corners and pray but we can sometimes have a wrong attitude when we pray in public. I think certain attitudes can affect us when we pray in corporate prayer meetings and as I have given some thought to this, I must confess I have been guilty of some of these attitudes too. How many of us like to demonstrate how knowledgeable we are when we pray out loud in a prayer meeting, quoting verse after verse we have memorised? Or pray for an extended time for added effect? We can show off without even noticing it. Our natural inclination to be popular and well thought of takes over.

God is not interested in how long our prayers are or whether we have remembered lots of verses to quote. He is looking at your heart, your desire and your sincerity. We have such an awesome privilege when we pray, to speak to the God of the universe. Let’s not spoil it and ignore Him to impress others.

Next week we will look at how God wants us to pray most of the time – in secret!

 June 3, 2016  Posted by at 12:00 pm Prayer, The sermon on the mount No Responses »
Nov 282013
 

praying_in_the_spirit1[1]We have finished listing through the various items and different parts of “the armour of God” and I hope you have found it useful. Before we move on, however, there is a very important aspect of the warfare we engage in when our armour is on, mentioned in verse 18 of Ephesians 6:

“…and pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.”

The act of praying is the action that keeps us moving forward. It is the energy that drives us forward into the battle. You see, if we are not moving forward, “putting on” the armour may be seen as a defensive exercise. We are constantly batting away the attacks from the devil, perfectly defended by our God-given armour, yes. But without moving forward we will not be taking very much ground.

Prayer keeps us in touch with our commanding officer. When we take the time to ask Him what His plans are, we know where and how we should be fighting.

I believe that prayer energises all the other pieces of equipment, especially the sword. We use scripture when we pray it back to God and remind Him of His promises and what He has said.

The fighting we engage in is not a ‘one- off’ fight, but rather something we need to be prepared for every day. We need to always be on our guard and in a permanent state of readiness. Look at some of the language in the following passages:

“…But stay awake at all times, praying that you may have strength to escape all these things that are going to take place, and to stand before the Son of Man.” (Luke 21:36)

“…But we will devote ourselves to prayer and to the ministry of the word”. (Acts 6:4)

“…Continue steadfastly in prayer, being watchful in it with thanksgiving”. (Colossians 4:2)

“…..do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.” (Philippians 4:6)

“…..pray without ceasing”. (1 Thessalonians 5:17)

“…..I thank God whom I serve, as did my ancestors, with a clear conscience, as I remember you constantly in my prayers night and day”. (2 Timothy 1:3)

Prayer should not just be reserved for prayer meetings. It should be an attitude we take with us every day. Prayer is communicating with our Father, thanking Him, making requests, interceding for others, praising Him etc. It’s not always easy. When life doesn’t go smoothly we can ask Him “Why did that happen?” So many things happen to us that we don’t understand, it can feel like God has forgotten us or even that He doesn’t care. At times like these we must push through in prayer and trust Him that He knows what He is doing.

My final thoughts on this subject are that whatever happens to us, we know we are on the winning side and we have a great captain who is leading His troops into victory. If the battle seems harsh at the moment, take heart that the victory is won and that you have been equipped to stand your ground, and that….

“….no weapon that is fashioned against you shall succeed, and you shall refute every tongue that rises against you in judgment. This is the heritage of the servants of the Lord and their vindication from me, declares the Lord.” (Isaiah 54:17)

 November 28, 2013  Posted by at 10:00 pm Armour of God, Prayer No Responses »
Aug 222013
 

Pray reading bibleOver the last few weeks we have been looking at developing our relationship with God through prayer. I do hope you have found it useful. If you have missed any, please feel free to click on the subjects on the left hand side of this web page.

We have looked at how we can come to God boldly at any time; we have discovered what we can actually say to God when we approach Him; and last week we looked at the model that Jesus gave us to approach God in prayer.

This week I want to take one more look at this subject. This may seem quite obvious but I believe it easily gets overlooked: Did you know that great chunks of the bible can be turned into prayers? In other words, we can actually pray the bible as we are reading it. Let me explain:

Take Philippians 4:6-7 which says:

“…do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. 7 And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

This passage can be turned into a prayer quite easily. Choose the thing that is worrying you the most at the moment and pray something like, “Dear Lord, Your word says that I am not to be anxious about anything but I confess that “such and such” (insert worry here) is really bothering me. I thank You that You want me to bring this problem to You. Help me to leave it at Your feet. I accept and look forward to the peace You have promised me in this passage, the peace You say will guard my heart and my mind. This is all possible because I am ‘in Christ Jesus’ who has provided peace to me through the cross. I accept Your gift with thanksgiving in Jesus name. Amen”.

See how easy it is?

Let’s just do one more here. This is how I would generally pray for a friend who wants a deeper experience of God (do you know someone like that?). I would take Colossians 1:9-13:

And so, from the day we heard, we have not ceased to pray for you, asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to Him, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God.May you be strengthened with all power, according to His glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy, giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in light. He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son.”

I would pray in the following way: “Lord I want to pray for (name). I pray that You will make Your will known to him/her and that he/she walks in a way that pleases You and You will help him/her to bear much fruit in his/her life. I pray that he/she is strengthened with Your power and is able to endure and be strong even when the going gets tough. I pray that You will give him/her joy as he/she realises that You have qualified him/her to share in the inheritance of your son”… etc.

There are very many prayers in the bible and even more passages that can be turned into prayers.

Next week I plan to move on to the subject of reading the word of God as another way of developing our relationship with Him. But this week, as you are reading the bible, why not try praying God’s word back to Him? I think you will be pleasantly surprised at how easy it is.

I shall leave you now with a few passages that can get you started:

2 Kings 19:14-19

John 17

Ephesians 1:15-21

Ephesians 3:14-21

1 Timothy 2:1-2

 August 22, 2013  Posted by at 10:05 pm Bible, Prayer No Responses »
Aug 162013
 

lords prayerOver the last few weeks we have been looking at the subject of prayer as part of the wider theme of having a relationship with God. As Christians we all know how important prayer is but we are often unsure how to start. We have looked at how we can come to God boldly and at any time, and last week we looked at what we could say in our prayers.

This week we shall look at one of the most famous prayers of all: ‘The Lord’s prayer’. We probably all learned it at school. The fuller version is in Matthew 6:9-13:

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.

Jesus Himself taught this prayer to His disciples as they saw what an effective prayer life He had with His father.

The idea is not that we simply quote and repeat verbatim the words of the Lord’s prayer (as so many do), but rather that we use it as a template. For example:

Our Father in heaven Start thanking God that He has revealed himself as our father with all the comfort and protection that brings. He is for us and we are in His family, we can come to Him boldly.
hallowed be your name Hallowed means Holy. We begin to move into worshipful prayer as we remember His name as He has revealed it throughout the bible, for example “the Lord our Shepherd” (for guidance and care); “the Lord our Provider”; “the Lord our righteousness”, etc.
Your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven His Kingdom comes where there is evidence of His presence and love as He touches people with healing or salvation. We pray for our friends and family here who we want to see touched by God’s kingdom. There is a stark difference between heaven and the earth and we are praying for more of heaven to invade earth. More light, more power, more righteousness, more peace.
Give us this day our daily bread Do we need provision today? Not just physical but maybe emotional? God wants to provide for us. If we don’t need anything at the moment, then we should thank Him for what He has already given us. It is always good to have a thankful heart.
and forgive us our debts,as we also have forgiven our debtors. Is there any sin we are holding onto? Release it to God now and ask for His forgiveness, and then accept His forgiveness. We should ask the Holy Spirit to reveal to us anyone we are holding a grudge against or have not forgiven. We should ask Him to help us to forgive them, to make the choice to forgive them (even though we may not “feel” that forgiveness), then wait on God for our feelings to change.
and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil We ask God to guide us along whichever path we go on today. We resolve to not go to places that may cause us to be tempted. We ask for God’s protection over us, our family and our friends.

If you go through each stage of this prayer slowly as I have shown, you could easily pray for 15 to 20 minutes without even thinking about it. Why not give it a try now? Ask God to help you and you will find it gets easier. I can’t stress enough how much God loves it when we spend time with Him and share with Him the things that are happening in our lives.

 August 16, 2013  Posted by at 1:37 pm Prayer 1 Response »
Aug 012013
 

What do you say to GodIn last week’s post we looked at the fact that we can come to God boldly and at any time. This is because Jesus has made a way possible for us to enter into a relationship with God through his sacrifice on the cross.

What do we say?

I think that the majority of us understand the fact that we can approach God boldly and at any time. The problem arises when we get there: What do we say? How do we speak to God?

Firstly, we don’t have to use ‘King James English’. We are not required to use “thee’s” and “thou’s” and speak in lofty tones.

Secondly, we don’t have to recite great long eloquent prayers. I believe that God likes a chat. He knows what we are thinking about and He knows the answer before we have even formulated the question. God likes to be consulted. There is an amazing mystery in the character of God in that He loves to hear our prayers and responds accordingly, especially when we pray with faith.

Different types of prayer

When thinking about what to say and how to say it, it is really useful to go to the bible where many examples of different types of prayer can be found. I have listed just a few below to help us:

  • Petition – This is simply another word for a request. In Philippians 4:6 it says “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.”
  • Thanksgiving – It is always good to go back to God and tell Him how thankful you are. None of us like to be taken for granted. It is a good idea to get into the habit of thankfulness. In 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 it says “Rejoice evermore. Pray without ceasing. In everything give thanks”.
  • Adoration – Telling God how good He is. Just doing this helps us to lift our gaze out of our own troubles and get everything into a right perspective. When we adore, magnify and love God our faith rises, as we remember how strong, loving, kind, merciful and good He is. The Psalms are packed with passages of adoration which can be used in our prayer times.
  • Confession – These are prayers we pray after we have messed up. We come to Him confessing our sins and asking for forgiveness. We then receive that forgiveness according to his word. A great example of a confessional prayer is Psalm 51.
  • Intercession – This is when we pray on behalf of others. These kinds of prayers are seen throughout the bible. One example is when Abraham intercedes for the city of Sodom in Genesis 18:20-33.

Times of intercessory prayer can be wonderful occasions when God really uses us to meet the needs of others. True intercessors are faithful and persistent and are often unknown. They are heaven’s secret warriors who do battle in the heavenlies and see mighty victories accomplished.

Next time we will look at ways we can pray through verses in the bible. We will also look at the model that Jesus himself gave us.

 August 1, 2013  Posted by at 10:28 pm Prayer No Responses »
Aug 012013
 

Relationship through prayerDuring the remaining part of the summer and possibly into the autumn, I will be looking at various ways that we can develop our relationship with God.

I’m starting with a subject which has had many books written about it and has been discussed and debated endlessly. I think the reason it has been talked about so much is that we all realise how important it is and yet so many of us find it difficult to do.

It is an enormous privilege to pray to the God of the universe, the great and awesome God who created all things. To get an audience with a King or Queen or Head of State would be an almost impossible task, but the God who created us, the supreme ruler and creator of the universe invites us freely to come and talk to Him.

Boldly

The main problem with approaching a Holy God is that our sin blocks us from getting near. As Christians we can actually approach him boldly because of what Jesus has done in dealing with our sin. Jesus has made a way. Hebrews 4 states all that Jesus accomplished, culminating in verse 16 which says “Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”

It also says in Hebrews 10:19-22:

Therefore, brothers and sisters, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, 20 by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, his body, 22 let us draw near to God with a sincere heart and with the full assurance that faith brings, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water”.

In the Old Testament the people of God had to go through all sorts of purification rituals and animal sacrifices to approach God, and with real fear, in case their sacrifice wasn’t acceptable. But now we can have confidence in the sacrifice that was made once and for all by Jesus our redeemer.

Any time

We can approach Him at any time, day or night. God is always ready to speak to us, His door is always open, He is never asleep.

It will also come to pass that before they call, I will answer; and while they are still speaking, I will hear.” (Isaiah 65:24)

He will not allow your foot to slip; He who keeps you will not slumber. Behold, he who keeps Israel will neither slumber nor sleep.” (Psalm 121:3-4)

This means that whatever is going on in our lives, we can discuss it with Him. It doesn’t mean we necessarily have to pray great long prayers, but we can simply ask for help, tell Him our needs, ask for guidance and especially keep an attitude of thankfulness. This can be through short prayers throughout the day.

Knowing we can come to Him boldly and at any time, I guess the next big question is “so what do I say?”. We will look at this next week.

Prayer is not overcoming God’s reluctance, but laying hold of His willingness.” (Martin Luther)

 August 1, 2013  Posted by at 10:13 pm Prayer No Responses »