The way of prayer

This last week we had a wonderful discussion about prayer, based on Jesus’ example in Matthew 6. We had a great time delving into the text and hearing its resonance in our lives. As Christians*at*large it is tempting to think we’ve got prayer nailed, but our discussion revealed that making prayer as Jesus modeled it a way of life is a long-term project. For those of you who weren’t there, here’s some food for thought from our experience:

Prayer isn’t about changing God’s mind, it’s about changing our hearts. Many of us have a hard time bringing our personal needs and desires to God; it seems selfish, somehow. But if we are honest about what we want and what we think we need, God can show us what we really need and help us to accept the things we don’t want.

Jesus tells us that prayer shouldn’t be a public show; we should go to our room to pray. One of us noted that that direction is a wonderful metaphor for “being real,” for praying from the place we really are at, not the place we’d like others to see us in. Prayer can’t be walled off from the world, because a relationship with the God of this world means we will join him in blessing it, not retreating from it. But prayer for the sake of seeming “holy” or “smart” might accomplish that goal, but it can fall short of helping reveal God’s kingdom.

This text includes the Our Father, or the Lord’s Prayer, which Jesus taught his disciples. Jesus’ model prayer isn’t just a way to talk to God (though it certainly is that), it is also a great example of how to live in the kingdom of God. Imagine what life would be like patterned after the Lord’s Prayer:

  • The first thing would be praising and honoring God, and joining God’s mission to the world, so our lives would honor God.
  • Even though we are creatures with “will” and “kingdoms” (or, at least, areas in which we have authority to do our will), it would be natural to yield our desires and power to God’s.
  • As we look to reconciliation with God in heaven, we would also work to bring that reconciliation and healing here and now.
  • Gratitude for the daily care God provides — food, family, health and faith — would overshadow the anxiety we feel to succeed and get ahead.
  • We would be as quick to show mercy as we are to ask forgiveness.
  • We’d be aware of the devil’s snares and our own tendency to mess things up (The Message says it beautifully: “Keep us safe from ourselves and the Devil” – read it here).
  • And praising God would be our final answer.

Download our worship for personal or family devotions here: Matthew 6 meditation

Written by Bob Fisher in: gatherings,spirituality |

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