"Lord, teach us to pray. . . ."
(Luke 11:1) (ESV)
Small wonder the disciples asked for instructions on how to pray. They, as well as we, might come up with all manner of irrational objections to prayer. We might think that God is too busy to hear us. After all, that is the universal human excuse for everything: we are too busy. We might think that God does not care enough to listen; after all, none of our friends or neighbours does. We might think that other people have bigger problems than we do, so we had better not complain. Underlying all of this is a basic fear that if God does not appear to hear our prayers, our faith will be undermined.
Thankfully, to counter all this nonsense, we can find in the writings of Oswald Chambers some clear and sensible comments about prayer:
When a man is born from above, the life of the Son of God is born in him, and he can either starve that life or nourish it. Prayer is the way the life of God is nourished. Our ordinary views of prayer are not found in the New Testament. We look upon prayer as a means of getting things for ourselves; the Bible idea of prayer is that we may get to know God himself. - My Utmost for His Highest (Burlington, Ontario, Canada: Welch Publishing) 1935. (Page 241).
The Lord's Prayer is our great foundation for the prayer life. It is a fine thing to say this prayer with thought and feeling behind every word.
All throughout the Bible we are admonished to pray. Some of us will remember when we were new Christians how amazing and powerful it was to observe people praying in groups, seemingly about anything and everything. We will remember how we prayed timidly at first, then with the zeal and boldness of the convert.
Hopefully the zeal is still there for most of us. For others prayer has become an engrained habit, which may or may not be a good thing. It is good to pray often. It is better to pray with passion, with a relentless and renewed desire to know and depend on God.
We can pray to confess: "God, be merciful to me, a sinner!" (Luke 18:13).
We can pray with simple confidence: "But I call to God and the Lord will save me." (Psalm 55:16).
We can pray with well-balanced joy: "Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you." (1 Thessalonians 5: 16-18).
Or we can pray in accordance with many other biblical passages, motivated by the infinite array of life's blessings and challenges and delighting in the power and comfort of the Holy Spirit.
This is a large topic. That will be enough reading and writing for now. Let us pray.
In faith and fellowship,
Patrick McKitrick (more...)