Prayer is a staple of religion. If you don’t follow any particular religion then perhaps you meditate. The point is, humans by and large are tuned to opening their minds to some kind of external power or tranquility. For many, this opening of their minds provides a sense of security and peace as they feel heard, accepted and cared for. So, is prayer a commodity that should be passed out to and encouraged among the masses? Is it an elixir that can be taken to cure what ails you? How does prayer even work? What are its key ingredients and what is its process – or is there one? Can prayer, will prayer, change your life?
Lots and lots of people pray, and we pray for all kinds of things from wanting more material things in our lives to wanting to be healed from disease or injury, to wanting bad experiences to end. While we also pray for God’s will to be done, it seems as though the focus of most of our prayers is about – well, it is all about "me" – what I feel, what I want and what I prefer. Think about it...praying is supposed to be spiritual access to the God of all things and in that access all we can focus on is...me!? So, how is prayer supposed to work? Are there guidelines or rules for HOW we should pray? Are there dos and don’ts for WHAT we should be praying for? Is prayer an open and easily accessible tool for anyone who wants to talk to God or is it more of a privilege for those who are seeking God’s will?
A few weeks ago, we began to talk about how God communicates to us in our day. We began by looking at the biblical history of God and humanity and really spent most of our time talking about how He does NOT communicate with us now. This week we will focus on what we believe to be the provable and scriptural ways in which God Almighty DOES communicate to us as His Christian children here in the 21st century.
It is a pretty simple equation: You love God, you pray to Him, obey Him and serve Him and in return we as humans look for some kind of indication of His love and acceptance. We want to – we need to - hear from God in some way or other. So, how does He speak to us today in the 21st century? Is it through our dreams? Do we have visions? Is it through experiences? How about communicating through other people? Does God speak to us through His ancient word, the Bible? All of the above? Some of the above?
For many religions, prayer is a mainstay and a staple of ritual and lifestyle. Whatever the religion, prayer is a lifeline to a higher power, a calming factor in individual experiences and a connector to others who share the same faith. Prayer can and should permeate the life of a Christian. So, if this is the case, then the question is, do we know how we should be praying, why we should be praying and for what we should be praying? Stay with us as we explore some of the many teachings on prayer from Jesus!
There are some things from the days of the earliest Christian church that we read about, find inspiration from but rarely take the time to do ourselves. Fasting and praying are a particular example – these combined activities are sprinkled throughout the Old and New Testaments, yet they receive very little attention from us now. What is there about these activities that provoked such spirituality in so many of our spiritual heroes? Why fast? Why pray? Why combine them?
Prayer is an almost universal phenomenon. People pray to all kinds of “gods” and we pray about all kinds of things. We use all kinds of tools to help us pray – prayer shawls, wheels, rugs, books and beads, to name a few. People pray to worship, to ask for help, guidance, peace, patience, strength, courage, and tolerance. People pray to complain and vent. People pray to seek revenge, judgment, and self worth. People pray to dictate, command and get rich. People pray for whatever people want, see, like or wish. People pray – does it do any good?
About two months ago, we received an email from a listener - a college student - who was troubled. He is a Christian and had watched a YouTube video entitled, "Why I am no longer a Christian," a 1 1/2-hour, step-by-step presentation of how another young man went from devoted Christian to atheist. It was a well-done, non-inflammatory treatise on why the author now believed Christianity to be just a story. The young man who emailed asked us if we could answer, to which we responded, yes, just give us time. Stay with us for Part I as we go through this very detailed reasoning!
Many, many people pray. Are all those prayers answered or are most unheeded? Is there a prescribed formula for prayer? When should we pray? What should we pray about? Does the “universe” help seekers find? Are there right ways to pray that will get you an “in” and are there wrong ways to pray that will get you ignored? Stay with us as we tackle what promises to be a massive, important and life-changing topic!
Prayer is a powerful thing. We as Christians speak of it often and we encourage others by telling them that we are praying for them. We ask for prayers. We pray for forgiveness, for strength, for discernment. We pray for direction, for patience, and for wisdom. We pray to praise honor and worship our Almighty God and His son Jesus. This morning we are going to look at the experiences of one man, one King of Israel, Hezekiah, who prayed for God to extend his life. Why did he ask that? Should he have asked that? What is the lesson for us? Stay with us as we talk about the most familiar topic of prayer in a relatively unfamiliar way.