It never fails, on the mornings that I’m working from home, my wife might be on the road for less than 5 minutes and the phone rings. She just wants to chat; catch up on stuff we missed over breakfast. It’s a good thing right? I love it, and she obviously does to, otherwise she wouldn’t dial the number.
Relationships are based on conversation and communication. They grow when we’re talking, they don’t grow when we’re not talking. I’m not discounting the profoundness of being present without words, however, we can all agree that healthy friendships are based on conversation that travels both ways.
If this is true, why do we think that our relationship with God is any different? Without thought we will go days without talking to God, without reading the scripture, without quieting ourselves to listen to what he has to say. The funny thing is that we somehow convince ourselves that our understanding of God, our walk with Christ, can move forward even when we neglect one of the most important lifelines for it – prayer. Don’t get me wrong, this isn’t an easy thing to be consistent with. I speak from experience: I’m consistently inconsistent and inconsistently consistent (how’s that for a tongue twister). That being said, if I want to grow deeper in my faith and move closer to the person Jesus is calling me to be, prayer has to be part of the equation.
– something the scriptures teach us to do (found 100’s of times in the Bible)
– expected of people who follow Jesus
– expecting God to answer the phone when you call (Psalm 4:3, 138:3)
– something we do alone (Matt 6) & together (Acts)
– something we do on good & bad days
– something we learn (‘Jesus, teach us to pray”Pray like this…’)
– just a bunch of words
– something we rush
– like pestering an authority figure to get something we want (Luke 18)
– to show off how spiritual you are to others (Matt 6)
– us telling God what to do, combined with hints on how others should live
– helps you become the person God created you to be
– like all communication tools, fosters relationship (with God)
– reminds us that we’re not doing life alone
– gives God joy
Why do we pray???
– because Jesus did (Luke 11:1, 5:26, 22:32)
– because Jesus expects us to (Matthew 6:5,6,7,9, Luke 11:9)
– because prayer invites God into our world and ushers us into his
– because if we don’t pray we only halt our desire to deepen our relationship with God
There is so much more to say. But simply put – Pray!
Talk to God. Listen to God. See what happens as you do it more and more. Don’t just fit it into your busy schedule, try and base your schedule around it. I’m with you in this journey. I want to pray more in my 40’s than I did in my 30’s. Why? Because if I want to move deeper in my relationship with God and the mission Jesus compels me to live, I have to pray.
– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
small(er) group questions
If you were asked to describe prayer, why you do it and what you get from it, how would you respond?
In Matthew 6, Jesus gives us some instructions about prayer. How long we pray, how loud we pray, and what we pray for.
– Why do you think Jesus says not to pray for the purpose of others hearing you?
– What about the Lord’s prayer excites and inspires you? What part is tough to accept or pray?
How has God answered your prayer? Have there been times where you feel he’s been silent in responding?
If pray is conversation, what kind of things should get into the dialogue?
Ruth Barton says that, ‘prayer has features in common with all relationships that matter…exciting/dull, loud/quiet, joy/irritation’. What do you think she means by that?
We pray because (1) Jesus prayed (Luke 5:16, 11:1, 22:32), (2) He expects us to pray (Matthew 6:5,6,7,9), (3) Jesus taught us how (Matthew 6:6-11)
What would you like us to pray for tonight?
Let’s read the Lord’s prayer as we close. A little slower, with a few seconds of reflection between phrases.