Let’s Pray

 

Pray is used 313 times in KJV but only 121 times in NIV. Why? KJV uses terms such as, “Pray tell.” OK let’s get more serious.

 

When we pray, when we offer a prayer, when we are praying, and after we have prayed we engage in conversation with the creator of heaven and earth! We are speaking to God. And we likely are expecting God to speak to us. Prayer can be powerful or prayer can be useless, it depends on us. Conversation is a give and take process. Don’t talk to God and then walk away. When you have a conversation you expect to be heard and we should then give God the opportunity to be heard!

 

Think for a moment about whom you are conversing with. Think of how casually you may engage in prayer and the familiarity you perhaps exhibit. Then remind yourself again about whom you are addressing and what you are saying.

 

Would your attitude be different if you were speaking to someone rich or famous or having power over your future and your life! Toss in your family and friends. If their welfare is involved you might change your approach entirely. But if you are asking something of them you might have yet another attitude and approach. What if any of these were to say to you, “Speak freely: I want to hear what you think and how you feel. Don’t be afraid or ashamed”?

 

I am afraid it is true that all too often less deference is given to God than to many of the others we have considered. If you were speaking to an important person that could affect your life for better or worse would you allow someone to interrupt your conversation frivolously? When you are praying do you allow interruptions?

 

Captain Miles Standish, John Alden, and Priscilla Mullins. This is a well-known trio from our American history. Captain Miles Standish’s wife died and so he came to think he should remarry. Priscilla Mullins was one of the few single women in the community. Captain Standish thought that John Alden would do a better job of asking for Priscilla’s hand in marriage and convinced him to go to Priscilla with his proposal. After John made the proposal on behalf of Captain Standish Priscilla replied, “Why don’t you speak for yourself John?” When we pray do we repeat words given to us by others? The Lord’s Prayer for instance. If so, perhaps you might consider speaking your own words.

 

Do you think longer prayers are necessarily better than short prayers? As a parent or a grandparent do you hear and see your children and grandchildren enough or do you wish you heard and saw them more often? Do you think the form of a prayer is more important than its content? Personally, I am delighted to hear the nonsensical noise from a child or the silly happenings in the lives of my grandchildren. We don’t need to be elegant or profound but we do need to be sincere and real!

 

OK. Let’s dig into some examples from the Bible. There are many but we will look at only a few today. These are all found in Matthew.

*   (Mat 5:44 NIV)  But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,

*   (Mat 6:5 NIV)  "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.

*   (Mat 6:6 NIV)  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.

*   (Mat 6:7-8 NIV)  And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. {8} Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.

*   (Mat 6:9-13 NIV)  "This, then, is how you should pray: "'Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, {10} your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. {11} Give us today our daily bread. {12} Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. {13} And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.'

*   (Mat 19:13 NIV)  Then little children were brought to Jesus for him to place his hands on them and pray for them. But the disciples rebuked those who brought them.

*   (Mat 21:13 NIV)  "It is written," he said to them, "'My house will be called a house of prayer,' but you are making it a 'den of robbers.'"

*   (Mat 21:21-22 NIV)  Jesus replied, "I tell you the truth, if you have faith and do not doubt, not only can you do what was done to the fig tree, but also you can say to this mountain, 'Go, throw yourself into the sea,' and it will be done. {22} If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer."

*   (Mat 24:20 NIV)  Pray that your flight will not take place in winter or on the Sabbath.

*   (Mat 26:36-44 NIV)  Then Jesus went with his disciples to a place called Gethsemane, and he said to them, "Sit here while I go over there and pray." {37} He took Peter and the two sons of Zebedee along with him, and he began to be sorrowful and troubled. {38} Then he said to them, "My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me." {39} Going a little farther, he fell with his face to the ground and prayed, "My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will." {40} Then he returned to his disciples and found them sleeping. "Could you men not keep watch with me for one hour?" he asked Peter. {41} "Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the body is weak." {42} He went away a second time and prayed, "My Father, if it is not possible for this cup to be taken away unless I drink it, may your will be done." {43} When he came back, he again found them sleeping, because their eyes were heavy. {44} So he left them and went away once more and prayed the third time, saying the same thing.

Let me close with a few more thoughts. God is a God of Miracles. He is a God that hears and answers prayer. But prayer is not magic. There are no magic words or actions required. Nevertheless, prayer can be supplemented as you saw when Jesus placed His hands on the Children in Matt. 19:13. Anointing with oil is sometimes coupled with prayer. But it is not a necessary part of prayer. Fasting can supplement prayer but is not a necessary part of prayer. In fact you will find an example in

*   (Acts 14:23 NIV)  Paul and Barnabas appointed elders for them in each church and, with prayer and fasting, committed them to the Lord, in whom they had put their trust.

King James offers two other examples but they are not found in most modern translations.

*   (Mat 17:21 KJV)  Howbeit this kind goeth not out but by prayer and fasting.

*   (Mark 9:29 KJV)  And he said unto them, This kind can come forth by nothing, but by prayer and fasting.

There is much more we could talk about but it will have to wait for another time. For now let us pray about prayer. Prayer is an awesome gift. Use it! Use it well and frequently!