“When you pray, don’t be like the hypocrites who love to pray publicly on street corners and in the synagogues where everyone can see them. I tell you the truth, that is all the reward they will ever get. But when you pray, go away by yourself, shut the door behind you, and pray to your Father in private. Then your Father, who sees everything, will reward you.” Matthew 6:5&6
Have you ever been in a prayer meeting or service where someone prays like they know what they’re doing? Not that there is some college degree in prayer, but there are those who can pray in such a way that you know God is present and attentive, and when the person is done praying, they even look different! As I was growing up, the small church I attended held Wednesday night prayer meetings where we would gather in the sanctuary. Everyone would kneel at the pew, and one by one they would offer prayers, and I was allowed to hear their innermost requests presented to God. I could tell who was praying, not because I could see them, but I knew their voices and knew the loved ones for which they prayed. Of course, as a ten year old, I couldn’t wait till it was over and I could run around the church with my friends, but that experience has stayed with me because of the earnest way those people sought the Lord. And I wonder if I earnestly seek God? Do I present my utmost need to Him?
We live in a ‘satisfied’ culture. Credit card debt is a huge problem in this country and it continues to grow. With the seemingly available answer to our prayers in the form of a plastic card, do we really seek God in earnest to meet our needs? When do we really experience true hunger? Most of us use food to comfort, not to nourish, so we see the alarming rate of obesity in our society. The things we desire are determined by the commercials we see. When we go to God in prayer, even then the prayers are short, before we nod off to sleep. Our need for God is diminished by the gods we serve in our daily lives.
Prayer is the time we pause, focus on God, and receive word from Him. When was the last time you paused, focused on God, and received a word from Him? I don’t mean when someone else–your Pastor or Bible Study Leader prayed. When was the last time you prayed? My own prayer practices have attention deficit disorder written all over them! All of us have so many things to do running through our minds, we can get off track really fast! I have used different methods of prayer, listing requests, meditating on scripture, and patterned prayer and all have worked, for a while. What I have realized is that it’s not how I do prayer; it’s that I do prayer!
There are many different books on prayer and they can be a real help in getting started. Realizing that prayer is an invaluable tool in your life is just the beginning. Begin to seek God in prayer today. If you are not in a regular prayer habit, begin by starting the day with 5 minutes of devotional reading, closing in prayer. Thank God for the many blessings in your life, present your requests, no matter how small! And seek to know His will for your life. Begin your day with this reading and start the habit of prayer!
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What I have realized is that it’s not how I do prayer; it’s that I do prayer!