It’s funny to think about how I used to pray as a child. I remember praying for others and, perhaps more embarrassing, praying for material items to magically appear in my room the next morning.
But now I think about how I don’t pray much, if at all anymore. I honestly can’t remember the last time I prayed. I’ve always been embarrassed to say the blessing at dinner because, truthfully, I don’t know what to say. I tend to ramble and repeat myself and pause for what seems like an eternity. I’m not sure why I have an aversion to this, but I would guess that it is rooted in a lack of confidence of my own personal spirituality.
I’ve been thinking about how to start this particular thread of thought in my mind over the past week or so, and it wasn’t until reading a few things (including this) that it finally clicked with me. I should write and learn about prayer. So I’ll start with this scripture from Matthew, and I should note that despite being the son of a preacher, I’ve never read the Bible from cover to cover. I was hardly a menace to society, but I never did engage myself as a kid or an adult to God’s word. Prayer became a distant childhood memory. Maybe more answers will present themselves in the coming days, but for now I can’t really explain why it never fully latched on. Here’s what Jesus says about prayer in Matthew 6: 5-15:
5 “When you pray, you are not to be like the hypocrites; for they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and on the street corners so that they may be seen by men. Truly I say to you, they have their reward in full.
6 “But you, when you pray, go into your inner room, close your door and pray to your Father who is in secret, and your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you.
7 “And when you are praying, do not use meaningless repetition as the Gentiles do, for they suppose that they will be heard for their many words.
8 “So do not be like them; for your Father knows what you need before you ask Him.
9 “Pray, then, in this way:
‘Our Father who is 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 do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from evil.
For if you forgive others for their transgressions, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.
But if you do not forgive others, then your Father will not forgive your transgressions.
That prayer and the article above will help me forgive an employee that really ticked me off yesterday. If I refuse to forgive that employee for making some comments intended to get under my skin, then God will not forgive me. That is powerful enough.
The restaurant business is not really a place where I find God present, but I know that it is what you make of it. I think of all the managers I’ve come into contact with. Not one of them strike me as spiritual in the least. The one guy that was spiritual no longer seems connected. That person wasn’t a manager then, but they are now. It can be a draining profession — both mentally and physically. It is probably more important than ever for me to root myself into prayer.
If I don’t communicate with my wife for a day, what type of bearing does that have on our relationship? It damages it — and quickly at that. If communication is so important to a successful marriage, then why wouldn’t it be the same for a successful relationship with God? I don’t think it’s any different.
God also instructs us to pray.
“Keep watching and praying that you may not enter into temptation; the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.” — Matthew 26:41
The way to overcome temptations is to keep watch and pray. Temptations hit us where we are most vulnerable. We are foolish to think we can resist them alone. Prayer and a relationship with God strengthen our spiritual defenses.
Paul writes in Ephesians 6:18 that “With all prayer and petition pray at all times in the Spirit, and with this in view, be on the alert with all perseverance and petition for all the saints.” Pray at all times? How can we do that?
“One way is to make quick, brief prayers your habitual response to every situation you meet throughout the day. Another way is to order your life around God’s desires and teachings so that your very life becomes a prayer.”
I don’t have to go into solitude every time I want to pray. Make my life a continuous prayer to be a better follower of Christ. My study bible explains that “praying for all the saints” means praying for all the believers in Christ as well as the churches around the world.
Paul wrote this while in prison. He did not ask the Ephesians to pray for him to be freed, rather he continued to speak fearlessly about Christ. My study bible expands on this:
“Even as we pray for a change in our circumstances, we should also pray that God will accomplish his plan through us right where we are. Knowing God’s eternal purpose for us will help us through the difficult times.”
That reminds me of the stories of Abraham and Moses. Their undying devotion to God’s ultimate plan. It is truly admirable. Please leave your thoughts below.