Making Prayer A Priority
I love my friends and love to spend time with them. Chatting is a big part of our time together. I am thankful that I get to share things with them and they listen. I cannot imagine if my friends did not talk while I listen. Sometimes we laugh because we will spend hours chatting and then one of us will call back on the way home and say, "oh, I forgot to tell you this..." I want to share it all with them. They are my confidants who I trust. That is so important to me. If only I sat and listened to God like that!
Years ago I had to give a talk on prayer and the first thing I learned is that prayer is a two way conversation. Sometimes that is hard because we want to do all of the talking. Jesus spent many hours in prayer. He also spent time listening. Matthew 14: 23, “After he had dismissed them, he went up on a mountainside by himself to pray. Later that night, he was there alone…” Jesus also got up early to pray. Luke 4: 42, “At daybreak, Jesus went out to a solitary place. The people were looking for him and when they came to where he was, they tried to keep him from leaving them.” We see a pattern in Jesus’ life where He often withdrew to be alone and pray. Luke 5: 16, “But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed.” If Jesus felt the need to be quiet and pray then I believe we need it too!
I imagine most of us recognize that our prayer life could use some improvement. Part of the problem is our busy schedule. But I have noticed that I MAKE time for things that are important to me like the beach and the boat. By neglecting prayer, we forfeit a greater love and appreciation for Christ, a deeper relationship with Him, and His power in our weakness. We are told that we are to pray about everything. Philippians 4: 6, "Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God." As my pastor said in a sermon, if it is on your mind, it is on God's heart.
I have found the best thing for me with prayer is the same with exercise. Do it first thing so nothing else gets in the way. Starting your day with God makes for a better day. All through the day I talk to Him about whatever, whenever. At night when I lie down I usually just thank Him for the day and ask Him to watch over us and give us restful sleep. By then I am asleep. Usually, during the night I wake up a couple of times. If it is one of those nights I cannot sleep I talk to Him or pray for whoever has been brought to my mind.
God wants us to devote ourselves to prayer. Devote means to give all or a large part of one's time. Colossians 4: 2-4, "Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful. And pray for us, too, that God may open a door for our message, so that we may proclaim the mystery of Christ, for which I am in chains. Pray that I may proclaim it clearly, as I should." God want s to know about the little things. As Tim said in a recent sermon - if it is on our mind it is on God's heart. Philippians 4: 6, "Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God."
Praying is just talking to God. You can tell Him anything - He already knows it anyway. You can talk to Him like He is your best friend or your father. He is your Father and you are His child. Luke 11:1, "One day Jesus was praying in a certain place. When he finished, one of his disciples said to him, "Lord, teach us to pray, just as John taught his disciples." Luke shares part of the Lord's prayer as a part of Jesus' answer to the disciples.
The same prayer is also recorded in Matthew 6: 9-13, "This, then, is how you should pray: ‘Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us today our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one." Matthew says this prayer was shared with a large crowd during the Sermon on the Mount. The two passages are very similar but Luke's version is shorter at various points. In both passages the prayer is in the same order.
Do you spend time with God every day?