“Lord, teach us to pray…” (Luke 11:1a NLT)
This is the last “P” we’ll look at related to what “Seeking God’s Kingdom First” might look like (see last three Posts). We’ve looked at PURSUE knowing, loving, and serving the Lord Jesus with intentionality and consistency. PRIORITIZE your schedule to reflect the priority of His Kingdom, then yesterday we looked at establishing life-PATTERNS (habits) that will enable us to grow in our likeness of Jesus.
Today we’re looking at PRAYER as the primary means of making the other avenues possible. We can’t pursue God, prioritize our schedules, or effectively develop consistent and effective life-patterns without first getting direction and instruction from the Lord.
It’s always been interesting to me that the original Disciples of Jesus, at least according to what is recorded in Scripture, never asked Him to teach them to preach or perform miracles. Only to pray! There are more than fifty references to prayer in the Gospels alone, and the context of Luke 11:1 finds Jesus praying. It was when Jesus completed His prayer that one of the disciples asked Him, “Lord, teach us to pray…” (Luke 11:1a NLT)
Prayer, as I understand it, is not reciting certain words, in certain ways, but literally, humbling ourselves before God, and speaking with Him with open hands and heart. When I placed my trust in Jesus and yielded my life and allegiance to Him, I was 15. I don’t remember praying much before then, except the time I “borrowed” the car in a rainstorm and smashed in the passenger door on a post. My prayer was essentially begging God to not let my dad get too angry, and promising Him if He got me through it, I’d never drive again.
I didn’t understand at the time, but God did “get me through it,” it just didn’t turn out as I’d expected. My dad didn’t get angry, instead he was disappointed, which hurt more than if he’d disciplined me more harshly. So, my commitment to my dad and God, was that I would make every effort to drive responsibly and legally (😊) in the future.
What is prayer like for you? Once I began my walk with Jesus, I would put an empty chair in front of me and pretend Jesus was sitting in it. I’d just talk to Him like I talk with anyone else. I’d tell Him about my day (as if He didn’t already know, right!) and I’d listen to see if He’d speak to me. As I look back on those times, after having walked with Him for almost sixty years, those were good times, not because I heard His audible voice, but because He always enabled me to sense His presence.
Today, that’s the most important part of our relationship. Not the “feelings” of His presence, though His presence with me is very emotional at times, but the sometimes-profound “certainty” of His presence.
When God met with Moses in Exodus 33, God instructed Moses to “Go up to the land I swore to give to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.” (Exodus 33:1 NLT), but God told Moses He wouldn’t go with the rescued Egyptian slaves, because they were “stubborn and rebellious.” God promised to send an angel to guide them, but Moses basically told the Lord, “You can count me out unless You go with us.” In Exodus 33:16, as Moses was “building his case” for God to go with them, he told the Lord, “For your presence among us sets your people and me apart from all other people on the earth.”
Prayer confirms, that that is still true today. In my often moment by moment conversations with the Lord, He reminds me of things He’s said to me in His Word. But He will also give me “impressions,” for lack of a better word. He’ll let me know if I need to speak with someone, and about what. He’ll ask me to write them an email, or handwritten note, take them to lunch, send them a card – whatever is appropriate, based on my level of relationship with the person. He’s instructing me as I write these Posts.
Mine and God’s relationship isn’t Master to slave, although it well could be, it’s Friend to friend, but more importantly, it’s Father to son.
You may be wondering – “But you haven’t said anything about how to pray!” Yes, and no. Prayer isn’t simply the speaking of words, it’s the attitude, and often, the singular focus, of your heart before your Sovereign Creator. It’s the soul’s pausing at the well of God’s love, for a deep and much needed refreshing. It’s our spirit connecting with the Spirit of God in ways that human words can never explain or express. It’s basking in the presence of His holiness, seeking cleansing and infilling that will not only satisfy every dimension of our being, but remind us, we’re most effective FOR God, when we’re most dependent UPON God.
That’s prayer at its richest and most rewarding, but you’re right, so we’ll look at prayer from some other angles over the next few days.
Blessings, Ed 😊