Title: Like Breathing
Date: Mar 21, 2012
Scripture: Psalm 51, Psalm 36:5-12, Psalm 18:1-3, 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18, Psalm 17:1-12, Psalm 25:1-10, Psalm 42, 1 Samuel-2 Samuel, Matthew 6:9-13
|< previous date||next date >|
How often do you get up in the morning, take one deep breath and say, "That's all the breathing I need for today"? You wouldn't make it if you tried. Yet, we often do that with prayer.
We send up one quick breath of prayer and call it good for the day or week or longer. Once we've gone a few days like that, we think we can get by without it; we fail to see it as necessary. But prayer is contact with God, a key to becoming intimate with Him.
You wouldn't think much of a friend who never talked to you. Your friendship wouldn't grow any deeper. Prayer is the way we talk to God. And He wants us to talk to Him. That's why there are so many instructions on how to pray and what to pray about.
Jesus taught us: "Pray then like this:
'Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name.
Your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread,
and forgive us our debts,
as we also have forgiven our debtors.
And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil'" (Matthew 6:9-13, ESV).
This isn't the only prayer you can use, and you can talk to God about more than this. But it gives us a framework. We see that God wants a close relationship with us; in fact, He wants us to call Him Father. We learn about Him and what's important to Him (His name, His kingdom, His will); that He wants us to ask for what we need (daily bread). We learn how we should relate to others (forgiving, being forgiven) and that His desire is to help us daily (deliverance from evil, guard against temptation).
In 1 Thessalonians 5, we're told: "Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you" (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18, ESV). It's what God wants, what He wills for us--to rejoice, to pray, to give thanks. These three are tied together, and they should be as natural as breathing.
David, the king and psalmist, saw prayer or conversation with God as necessary in his life. You can read many of his prayers in 1 and 2 Samuel and in Psalms. Let's look at a few:
- What are some of the things David talked about with God?
- What do you see that fits with the Matthew 6 prayer?
- Which of these things do you take to God when you pray? What's missing?
- How do you think conversations like these could deepen your intimacy with God?
When we do pray, it's often a list of requests and needs. Then, when we don't get what we want, we say prayer doesn't work. Instead of focusing on getting your requests answered, try prayer as conversation. Jot down about three or four things you'd talk about with a friend--things that are important, that excite you, that have you struggling to understand, people you're concerned about, etc. Use these to start your next conversation with God, to build intimacy, to be open and transparent before Him, to look for His will and not your wants.
If prayer hasn't been part of your daily "breathing," plan to take time to pray tomorrow. Pick three times in your day when you're likely to have about 2-3 minutes. Set an appointment, a sticky note, an alarm on your phone, etc. When that time comes tomorrow, talk to God about one thing from the list you just created. Do the same for the next day or plan for several days. These are small steps, but they'll help you see prayer as necessary for your life.