The theme for this past Sunday was WHY PRAY? After all if God is going to do what He’s going to do, what difference does it make? Either He helps me or He doesn’t — either I will rejoice or be disappointed. In a world where people are always examining the ‘bottom line’ to see if an action “pays off” or not, prayer might seem to produce little benefit. But that’s really short-sighted and misses the point entirely with regard to prayer. God intends prayer to be valuable for us because it helps us to “be in tune with” the Creator of the World. It lets us walk in step with the One who loves and saves us even as He makes help and guidance available to us. It can totally change your attitude and outlook if you are willing to use prayer as God intended. Sunday’s message was entitled “Watch Your Step” and the following were some points that were shared.
1) Prayer gives you access to power that you do not have any other way. Like it or not you are quite often helpless in the face of circumstances and situations in life. Without the power of prayer there is nowhere to go and no place to turn that is outside of those circumstances. But with prayer we have access to a power that is not only beyond the natural world but only exists to bring help to your life. That power is best exemplified in the person and actions of Jesus Christ. He came to this earth, lived, died and rose again to life — and He definitely did not stay within the natural order of things. He showed that we can expect the unexpected if we align ourselves with Him and the power and love He brings to bear. The challenge is are we willing to do that.
2) Prayer is meant to be a balance of God’s care and our work. Balance is not easy. Some may pray very hard but then wait around for God to act (as if He does not work through us and use our skills and abilities as He leads and guides us.) We might say that such a person is so heavenly minded that they are no earthly good. On the other hand some work very hard and give but a passing nod to prayer, sort of sprinkling in a little just to show that God is part of things. This is often the case for much of my experience in church planning and organization. We pray a little and plan a lot, hoping God will approve or bless what we want. You can see the fallacy of this if we are not careful to be more balanced. The Gospel reading Sunday was from Matthew 11. The specific portion was verses 28-30 —
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”
Jesus wants us to “walk in step” with Him, to be connected to His will and His way. We pray because when we have that connection the world makes more sense and contains answers that otherwise do not occur to us. To “walk with the Lord” is to look at things from God’s perspective.
3) Prayer involves an attitude shift. We expressed it in the confession of sins from Sunday which went like this:
Oh Lord, I confess that I have not really understood the gift of prayer. I have thought of it as a way of bringing you in on the challenges and struggles of my life when in reality you are there already. I have used it mainly to give thanks when things go my way rather than to rejoice that things go Your way. But you call me to use prayer as a way to walk more closely with you on a daily basis. Your desire is for me to grow in faith and in relationship with You and You intend for prayer to accomplish that. Father, I have not truly understood or practiced prayer in that way. Forgive me for seeking to change my circumstances, to get other people to “come around” or to try to influence Your actions when all along it is me who most needs changing.
This attitude shift means that we adopt God’s perspective for our lives. If you are walking in step with someone it means you agree with them, you are a team with them and you are headed in the same direction. During the children’s message Sunday we had the kids try to do a 3-legged race. Not only did most of them not know what it even was but they certainly didn’t know how to do it. Think of prayer as being connected to God like in a 3-legged race. Someone has to be the one leading (really do you need me to tell you who that ought to be? See #1 above) The Lord puts His arm around you to steady you and says “Now walk with me, follow my lead and learn from me. You will find it worthwhile.” This is what you get when you pray to the Lord. This is Why we pray. We are not after getting what we want, we are after connecting with the power and love that will best lead us through this life.
Do you need a better reason?