Crying Out For Help
Prayer is when you talk to God; meditation is when you listen to God.
As I opened my eyes yesterday, I was heralded with the vision of blue skies and white fluffy clouds and a blessed decrease in the dew point thanks to rain we received the previous evening. And while there is no escaping the heat in South Carolina in August, I found myself wanting to thank Him for the beautiful day I was witnessing. And like I am wont to do, one thought led to another, and soon I began ruminating about prayer…..how we pray, how often we pray and what it is we say when we pray! How many of you have you ever given any thought to just this very thing? Is there a set number of prayers we need to share with God to be assured that He has heard us? Indeed, is there a right and wrong way to pray to Him?
Thinking about these questions I suddenly found myself envisioning a pad-lock and a key. And just as suddenly, I realized that prayer is the key and God is the lock! Now I do not mean to imply that we are somehow locked away from God, but rather, when we pray to Him, we are unlocking His heart and in doing that, we open into our very own hearts all of the possibilities afforded to us by the intimacy we establish with Him through our open and honest communication. Now I will be the first one to admit that doing this is not always an easy thing to accomplish. Anyone who has raised children and survived the teenage years can attest to that fact! We try to tell our young people that we will always there for them if they ever need someone to talk to. We try not to judge. We try to guide them to trusting us by our very actions every day. And we hope they are comforted in the knowledge that we, by those actions as well as our words, will follow through on those assurances, when and if they are ready to confide in us. Well, God is no different! He waits and watches over all of us knowing that we will come to Him when the time is right for each of us. And even when we do not ask for His counsel overtly, He always knows the questions that remain unasked as well as the secrets we hide within the recesses of our own hearts.
While God knows what we think even before the words pass our lips, we must remember that the way we ask is probably just as important as why we ask. So often we bow our heads and go to God and become selfish in what we ask of and from Him. Life is not easy and so we often ask for those “tangibles” that have somehow eluded our grasp. And yet when our answer from Him does not come as soon as we would like or in the way we expect it to, we somehow lose faith thinking He has forsaken us. What we forget is that God is not a magic genie in a lamp granting wishes to us for the asking. Rather, He considers the intent we hold within as we come to Him. When we are angry or bitter or selfish or are in conflict with not just ourselves but with others, we are not likely to find that the key will be able to unlock His heart. But if we come to Him earnestly and humbly, asking for His guidance, He will always be there for us! “And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by men. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full. But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.” (Matthew 6: 5-6 NIV)
Our prayer need not be complicated. In fact, the only prayer we need is one that has already been given to us by one whose life here was sacrificed for us so that by our asking for His forgiveness of our transgressions, that forgiveness would be granted and our place secured by His side in the Kingdom of Heaven. Most of you already know the words. They have been taught to most Christians from early childhood. The words have not changed much over the two millenia since they were first taught. Jesus did not give them to us to be recited a specific number of times on a specific number of days. Rather, Jesus taught them as a means of asking for His Father’s help in a way that was God centered and not man centered. It tells God that we know He is the one who is in charge, that we admit fully that we, as human beings, have sinned, and it asks His help is trying to live a life avoiding the things that place us at risk for continuing to sin. So whenever you do not know what it is you need to pray, or how to say the words, by offering the Lord’s Prayer, I believe with all of my heart that God knows what your intent is!
After this manner therefore pray ye:
Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name.
Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.
And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil:
For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever.
Matthew 6: 9-13 KJV
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