Friday, April 11, 2008

Give Us Today...

How to Pray: Part 5

Prayer is an essential part of a Christian’s life. For that reason Jesus took the time to teach people to pray. Not only did Jesus give people teachings on prayer, but He also gave us a model prayer. Models serve as examples to help us understand what the real thing is like. The model prayer of Jesus, The Lord’s Prayer (Matthew 6:9-13), helps us understand the essential parts that make up prayer.

Prayer is about giving God our praise. This helps us to remember who God is. If we make prayer just about a wish list then we are in danger of making God out to be Santa Claus or a genie. He is neither! God is the Creator and Sustainer of the universe. He provides what we need for both life and godliness. He is our Heavenly Father who loves us. He is our Sovereign and King. God needs to be honored, loved, and respected for Who He is.

Prayer is also about our priorities. Being human and only able to see a small part of the entire picture our desires often run contrary to God’s will. The process of praying helps us to align our priorities with God’s will. We trust that God will do the right thing even though we might not understand what He is doing. It helps us to give our lives away to doing His will here on earth as it is done in heaven.

The final element that should be in prayer turning over to God our daily our provision.
11 ‘Give us today our daily bread, 12 and forgive us our sins, as we have forgiven those who have sinned against us. 13 And never bring us into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.’ (Matthew 6:11-13)

In our culture we don’t look to God for our daily provisions such as food, shelter, and clothing. We have the resources to meet these needs ourselves, and so we may take time to thank God for them but we are not worried about missing out.

In the culture Jesus lived in things were vastly different. 90+% of the people lived below poverty. That meant if they did not work that day they most likely did not eat. Each and everyday was a struggle of survival. I imagine that our prayers would be different if we were struggling like that.

What Jesus is pointing out in this last part is that God is the Provider and we have great needs in our lives that only He can meet. Yes, we need to ask God for things, but what we ask God for must remain within the lines of who God is and what God’s will is. When God seems to ignore our prayer requests it is because they fell outside of those lines.

We must trust God to give us what we need. This is hard because we have so many things that we want that we often blur the line of what is a need and what is a want. A need is something that is essential for life, whether it is our physical life or spiritual life. A want is something that we think will make life more enjoyable. Praising God and bringing our wills to align with God’s will will help us clarify what we really need.

If we make prayer all about our provisions then we will be disappointed and frustrated with our prayer life, and we will even be tempted to conclude that God doesn’t exist (or doesn’t love us). Yet, when we put the provision element of prayer in its proper place, after the praise and priority elements, we will be able to see the changes prayer makes in our lives. Proper praying is the difference between a frustrated prayer life and a dynamic prayer life.

  • Point to Ponder: We have great needs that only God can provide.
  • Passage to Remember: Matthew 6:11-13
  • Question to Consider: Why do you pray?

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