What do you pray for?
How do you pray?
Jesus tells a story of a judge in a certain town who neither feared God nor cared what people thought. A widow in that town continually came to the judge pleading, "Grant me justice against my adversary." Every day she came, each morning pleading, "Grant me justice against my adversary." For some time he refused, but day after day the widow persisted, "Grant me justice against my adversary." Though he didn't fear God or care what people thought he thought to himself, "I will see that she gets justice so the woman will stop bothering me. (Luke 18:1-8)."
Jesus instructed his disciples to listen to what the unjust judge said. Will not God bring about justice for His chosen ones, who cry out to him day and night? Will He keep putting them off? He will see that they get justice, and quickly. However, Jesus wondered if the Son of Man find faith on earth when He comes? Jesus used this as an example for how we should pray, without ceasing and never giving up.
I have often wondered how to pray, curious if there's a magic combination of words, or amount of faith?The real question, "How do I get what I want?" I'm being honest, why doesn't God give me what I ask for? Isn't that the point? The widow wanted justice, she asked until it was given to her and didn't Jesus say that's the way it works?
Jesus also taught his disciples how to pray. In Matthew chapter six he gives them a template for prayer. He begins by calling God by the intimate term of daddy in the Aramaic. This was unheard of, he instructed to call the creator God daddy? Mark Moore in his book, Core 52, highlights the intimate and caring relationship the God of the Universe wants to have with us. You and I aren't just a number, He knows our name. He knows our heart and the intimate details of our lives. Jesus begins by acknowledging the significance of our relationship with our father in heaven. This means being straight with ourselves and God. He sees past our words and facade, like it or not he knows the deepest parts of ourselves, even those we don't always acknowledge. More importantly, he loves us regardless of the dark places.
Following this intimate acknowledgment is a kingdom mindset. We acknowledge, as Christians, we are part of something universal and cosmic. We are part of the coming kingdom, God's kingdom. You and I play a pivotal role. We are sons and daughters of the creator, brought into existence for his pleasure and his blessings. God desires to bless us and bless the world. It is his joy to give from His abundance. We are the only variable that holds back the blessing. We either choose to be blessed or not. Our choices and attitude determine our blessing.
Jesus then transitions to our daily needs. I am reminded of the sermon on the mount where Jesus highlights the birds of the air never storing, but reliant on the daily provision from God. The lilies of the field clothed in beauty without clothing or sewing. All their needs are provided for. This one is difficult due to the lavish lifestyles we are sold through marketing and commercialism. It's easy to get lost in the 'if only' mindset. 'If only' I had that car. 'If only' I had that television. 'If only' I had a bigger house, better computer, or tablet, phone . . . you get the idea. Marketers are good at making us feel happiness is only over the horizon of 'if only.' This requires an honest inventory of what we need and seeing the blessing in what we have.
Personal inventory is a challenge. We have a desire to distract ourselves from who we are. Media, concerts, trips, vacation, and work are ways we distract ourselves from an honest assessment of who we are. Jesus instructs us to ask God to forgive as we forgive others. This means we must be honest in our assessment of how we forgive others. Jesus instructs us to remove barriers or resolve bitterness and arguments with others. How can we ask forgiveness if we have not forgiven others? In Mark chapter eleven verse twenty-five Jesus instructs us to resolve these issues immediately so that God will forgive us in the same way. There is a connection between God's relationship with us and our relationship with others.
Delivery from temptation is the way Jesus ends his template for prayer. We are to rely on God's wisdom to avoid sin or dishonoring ourselves and others. The teachings of Jesus have shown us the delivery we need to avoid soiling ourselves with terrible decisions. There is wisdom in Scripture to enable us to live the best life possible. As I said before, God wants to bless us, but our choices act as barriers to those blessings.
So, when we pray, it's about a very real conversation with God through a very honest assessment of ourselves. It's a mindset that is global, thankful, and open to his leading and his will. There is a lot going on in prayer that has cosmic significance on a very intimate level. It's powerful when we know ourselves, accept God's grace and submit ourselves to his mercy. When we do this without ceasing as a widow calling for justice over her adversary, God will be quick to answer.
You will be renewed and find the world has changed, His kingdom has come and his will has been done in your life and on earth, as it is in heaven.