WHY DO WE PRAY?
I remember being a little girl and the times when I would climb into my grandma’s bed on the nights that I could not sleep (grandma’s bed was always welcoming). I recall some times waking in the middle of night and feeling for her, but she wouldn’t be there. I would hear her talking to someone, but when I would fully open my eyes and I would see her kneeling down by her bed side. I would just listen to her and hear her call the names of family members or talking about different situations and than I realized that she was praying.
My mind goes back to times I would hear her having a conversation in another room and no one (at least no else that I could see) would be in the room with her. I would ask, “Mama, who are you talking to?” She would answer, “I am talking to Father, God.” I realized again, that she was praying. I grew up around prayer and I now understand that I learned from my grandmother’s example that prayer was more than a Sunday thing…it was a true relationship! Not something you only do in times of trouble, or when you need God to do something for you. It is personal.
We sometime approach prayer as a chore or another thing to check off our spiritual “to do” list, but God desires for us to commune with Him out of a real relationship.
The disciples walked with Jesus, witnessed His ministry here on earth, and saw Him praying to the Father. After a time they desired to pray to the Father the same way. They asked Jesus to teach them how to pray. I believe they not only wanted to know what to pray, but they also wanted to pray with the same type of intimacy that he displayed when he prayed to His Father. Jesus shared with them this example.
The Model Prayer
1 Now it came to pass, as He was praying in a certain place, when He ceased, that one of His disciples said to Him, “Lord, teach us to pray, as John also taught his disciples.”2 So He said to them, “When you pray, say: Our Father in heaven, Hallowed be Your name. Your kingdom come. Your will be done On earth as it is in heaven. 3 Give us day by day our daily bread. 4 And forgive us our sins, For we also forgive everyone who is indebted to us. And do not lead us into temptation, But deliver us from the evil one.”
They observed that there was a difference in what they had seen in past. They saw a relational communication between Jesus and the Father. They begin to understand that praying to God was more than a formula or a pious posture, but a sincere relationship with the God of the Universe.
I think back to a time when I had all these systematic ways of praying. List upon list, the latest book on prayer, formula after formula and style after style. Guess what? I became weary in my prayer time and I became so bogged down trying to get it right that the very thing I had once enjoyed I begin to dread. That was Prayer!
Seasons change in our lives and sometimes we will have those times when summer is in full bloom and we experience such great times in prayer. Then there are winter seasons and we feel the chill instead of the warmth.
I have been there, especially as a mom and wife. Where my early morning prayer and devotions have become a 5 minute prayer with an, “I Love you God…I desperately need you! Help!” Yes, I have had many moments like that and I have learned to appreciate the sincerity of those 5 minutes. It is a stark comparison to those times when I prayed for an hour when felt like I “had it all together.” Saved the whole world and ready to leap over mountains. I am assuming none of you have ever felt that way?
At various times I have experienced some of the most powerful and life changing things whispered to my heart by God while changing diapers, cleaning toilets, driving to retrieve a kid for school, or while folding laundry. I have learned that God is able to meet you where you are when you invite Him into your everyday life. How so? Because I still remember my grandma. I remember her talking with God throughout her day and sometimes nights. He’s waiting to hear from us at anytime…even when you have a sink full of dishes to wash. I don’t think He minds the suds. Don’t despise your season and know He’s right there with you.
Prayer is intimacy. Prayer is relationship. Prayer is a two way conversation. Prayer is direction. A time to speak and a time to listen. We must allow room for God to commune with us during any time during our day.
Did you realize that He is always listening? That you don’t have to wait for the perfect time to pray, but you can pray all the time. Remember this the next time you feel discouraged, receive a bad report, uncertain about your future, need your marriage strengthened, desperately want your children saved or restored, or you are just talking to Him and thanking Him for what He has already done for you and Who He is. He’s always waiting for you in every moment of your day and your life. He desires to meet with you.
There is a difference between the formulas that can trap us in mundane and sometimes weary religious performances and the spiritual disciplines like studying our bible and setting aside time in prayer. We need the disciplines, they are important for our growth; however, we need to avoid getting stuck in formulas as much as possible.
I believe that when the disciples asked Jesus to teach them to pray it was because they had witnessed the confident relationship He had with the Father and they had come to realize that it was His intimate prayer life that fueled Him and enabled Him to fulfill His purpose.
I want to encourage you to break out of the box and invite God into every detail of your life; that we would seek a relationship with God and a prayer life built on His Word. I pray that we would experience the freedom of knowing God intimately. That we would learn to rest in Him and not be confined to mechanical formulas and long drawn out checklists.
Don’t despise your season; they change. If you are able to spend hours in prayer what a wonderful time you are in! However, if you are in a season where you have more of those 5 minute moments they are just as precious to God. He’s always waiting for you right where you are.