Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Pray Always

Prayer is not complicated, although we try to make it so. The most important thing about faith is the relationship with a risen, living Savior. I once thought it was all about religion and rules, but this is wrong. God says multiple times in His Word, "I desire mercy, not sacrifice." God is looking for a heart that is devoted to Him. So, how do we cultivate a relationship with the Most High God? Is it even possible?

How do you cultivate any loving relationship-with family, with friends? It takes communication. God wants to have conversations with you, just like your husband, daughter, parent or friend. One way we communicate with God is through prayer. Prayer is conversing with your Father.

I have had some opportunity to practice this. Like most people, I am inconsistent with this practice. I am easily distracted. I have learned two things that help me to focus. One is the crucial importance of gratitude. The Psalms are full of thanksgiving. We are told that the peace of God will stand guard over us if we present our requests to Him along with our thanks. We are told, simply and straight out, that God's will for us is to seek joy, pray always and be thankful. When I take the time to review all of the things God has done for me, it brings my full attention to my conversation with Him. Some people keep a gratitude journal; this can bring God's gifts to you into sharp definition. Even if you are going through a time of desperation, you can still thank God that He hears you; that He understands and cares what you are going through and for His very great power to redeem.

The second thing that helps me is to pray Scripture. There are so many great prayers and promises in God's Word. You can use Scripture to pray for yourself, for others or to praise God. In John 14:13-14, Jesus says that if we ask in His Name, it will be done. What does that mean? It does NOT mean that every prayer must always end "in Jesus' name" or it will be ignored. It means that when we pray, we are to align ourselves with Jesus. We are His agents, His representatives. We do not pray for things that are contrary to what He has taught us. How can we be sure that we are praying in agreement with God? One way is to pray His Word. Some of the verses I use this way are: 1 Peter 5:6-10; Ephesians 3:16-19; Colossians 1:10-11; 2 Peter 1:5-8; Romans 15:13; 2 Thessalonians 2:16-17; Philippians 1:9-11; any verses from Psalm 145. 

I have so very much to learn about God, His majesty and this powerful weapon of righteousness and reconciliation that He has offered to us: praying the Word of God. But, God is faithful to provide many opportunities to show us His grace and mercy.