I pray a lot.
That is not boasting. It is a simple fact.
I was raised in the church. As I learned to speak, I learned to pray.
My first prayers were simple, a common table prayer, and “now I lay me down to sleep” at bedtime.
As I grew, I learned far more powerful prayers. I learned to pray as Jesus taught his very own disciples to pray, with the “Our Father”, and when I reached confirmation age, I learned the very power of that seemingly simple prayer.
I try to spend a little focused time each morning in prayer and God’s Word.
I pray with and for my children.
I pray for my co-workers.
I pray for my blog readers.
I see my Facebook newsfeed as a scrolling prayer list.
I’ve seen answers to God’s prayers (and he always answers). God has sustained me through tough pregnancies. God continues to sustain His church. God richly provides for our daily needs.
I’ve also seen evidence of God answering prayers in ways that I did not desire. I’ve had beloved family members pass away too soon. I’ve not been offered jobs that I have applied for. I still don’t have unlimited money and resources. My children are still disobedient.
So, because God does not act like a genie in a bottle granting all of my wishes, does this mean that my prayers are futile?
Prayer is how we talk to God. And through our prayers, and conversations with God, sometimes the biggest change is in US.
In our society, there is a value in a “take charge” attitude. If you want something, you need to work hard to achieve it. We can’t just sit back and whine about what we don’t have.
Prayer takes the focus off of us.
Prayer acknowledges that all that we have, all that we are, and our entire future, is in God’s hands. When we acknowledge that God is truly in control, then we can trust Him to guide our ways. We learn that we can turn our worries and cares over to him. We can release them into His most capable arms. We can pray for healing and be confident that we will be granted healing, either in this world, or the next. We can pray for success, and acknowledge that success in God’s eyes may look different than what we envision. We can be bold, and ask for more than we deserve, knowing that we have already received so much more than we deserved when Jesus gave up his life for us. We are already blessed beyond comprehension . . . we have received the free gift of eternal life!
I have set aside a day to pray for you, my readers. During my work day I check in on my Facebook Page and say short prayers for each of you. I petition God for each of you. And I ask that you do the same for me.
In Paul’s first letter to the Thessalonians, he closes with these final instructions, and these words stand true today as well:
We ask you, brothers, to respect those who labor among you and are over you in the Lord and admonish you, and to esteem them very highly in love because of their work. Be at peace among yourselves. And we urge you, brothers, admonish the idle, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with them all. See that no one repays anyone evil for evil, but always seek to do good to one another and to everyone. Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. Do not quench the Spirit. Do not despise prophecies, but test everything; hold fast what is good. Abstain from every form of evil.
Now may the God of peace himself sanctify you completely, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. He who calls you is faithful; he will surely do it.
Brothers, pray for us.
Greet all the brothers with a holy kiss.
I put you under oath before the Lord to have this letter read to all the brothers.
The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you.
(1 Thessalonians 5:12-28 ESV)
If you are looking for more information on prayer, and how to pray, A Simple Way to Pray, is a valuable resource written by Martin Luther for his friend and barber. It has been recently translated from the German by Matthew Harrison and is a rich resource in a small (and very affordable) book.
With that, my friends, how can I pray for you today?