Most people say they believe that prayer is important. And most people devote almost no time to prayer. Why do you think that is? Is prayer difficult? Boring? How do you treat prayer?
When Jesus taught his followers to pray, listen to what he said,
Matthew 6:7-15 (NIV)
7 And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. 8 Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.
9 “This, then, is how you should pray:
“‘Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name,
10 your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.
11 Give us today our daily bread.
12 And forgive us our debts,
as we also have forgiven our debtors.
13 And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from the evil one.’
14 For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. 15 But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.
Here are three things I want you to catch from what Jesus said.
#1 Prayer isn’t about letting God know what we need. Jesus said it; God already knows what we need before we ask Him. So why pray? Because prayer is how we communicate with God, who is not far off, or aloof. He is our Father, paying close attention to us.
#2 Prayer is about aligning ourselves with God’s purposes. If prayer isn’t about telling God all the things I want Him do, then what is it about? It’s about aligning ourselves so that we’re working with Him, bringing life and love into this broken world.
#3 Prayer is about community. Pay attention to the pronouns in the second half of this prayer. It’s all about us and our. And then verses 14 and 15 make it clear that prayer is a community thing. Prayer brings us together under the loving and watchful care of our Father, where we can share that care and love with each other. When we get together and pray, it will bind us to each other in God, and strengthen us as a church family.
If you want to experience this, then join me any and every night next week for our Week of Prayer. We’ll be meeting in the Sanctuary at 7:00 p.m. from Sunday through Saturday. We’ll teach on prayer, worship and most of all just simply pray. Some of you will enjoy just praying quietly, others will enjoy praying in groups, some will pray to themselves, others will pray out loud…that’s the beauty of prayer: it can take many forms.
I believe God wants to do some things in us and through us next week. It will take some sacrifice on our part to be here and pray: a sacrifice of time and energy, and maybe more. But if we hold back, we’ll never experience what could be…let’s not be people who hold back!