Good Morning VFC Family,
I have a confession: prayer isn’t something that always comes easy to me.
Seems kinda weird to say as a pastor, right? Admitting that I struggled and sometimes still do with the idea of prayer?
After I first became a Christian, I was always worried that I wasn’t doing it right. That my prayers had to follow some sort of ritual and that certain language must be used when our heads were bowed and eyes closed. Trying to keep track of the thy’s and thee’s…I would lose focus on what I was trying to say to God.
Eventually, I realized that prayer wasn’t a one-sided performance, it is a conversation with God. A two-sided interaction between a loving Father and His child. Prayer was wonderfully designed by our Heavenly King to be a direct line of communication. It’s not reserved for just a few but intended for everyone.
In the Gospels, we see that Jesus’ close friends were surrounded with ritualistic examples of prayer, and He was so passionate about helping them understand what prayer should be that He gave them (and us) a model for what to do. In Matthew, 6:9-13 He says:
“This, then, is how you should pray:
‘Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name,
your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us today 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 the evil one’”
As author Heidi Charalambous has written in Learning to Pray Like Jesus, there are 3 big takeaways from what Jesus is telling us about prayer here:
1. We should celebrate who God is when we pray
Jesus starts His prayer by celebrating God for who He is. Hallowed is an old English word for holy. We don’t use this word often, but it is a great descriptor of who God is.
Taking a few minutes to acknowledge God’s rightful place as above everything tends to change the tone in our conversation with Him. Reflecting on God’s character puts our relationship into perspective and allows us to come to Him in humility. Then, as we start to speak, we’re more aware that this is the Almighty, our loving Father, not an equal or a genie required to respond to our wishes.
Some of the best examples of celebrating God’s character are found in the Psalms, a book of worship songs and prayers located in the middle of the Old Testament.
“To Him who alone does great wonders, For His loving kindness is everlasting” (Psalm 136:4).
“For Your loving kindness is great above the heavens, And Your truth reaches to the skies” (Psalm 108:4).
“Your ways, God, are holy. What god is as great as our God? You are the God who performs miracles; you display your power among the peoples” (Psalm 77:14).
2. We should anticipate when we pray
The second thing Jesus does is anticipate what God will do on Earth and in the kingdom to come.
We all have that thing we are looking forward to. Maybe it’s the birth of a child, the start of a new job, or the family vacation you’ve been planning for a year. In our minds, we think we have it figured out how things will go. But rather than praying for the details of our day to go according to our plan, Jesus teaches us to look forward to God’s Will being done. Our vision for the future is not always the same as the Lord’s, and we should submit to that.
God sees more than we do, knows more than we do, and loves better than we do.
In Isaiah 55:9, God reminds us of this, telling Isaiah, “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.”
3. We should ask when we pray
The last part of Jesus’ example focuses on asking for help to be more like God and more dependent on God. Jesus teaches us to specifically ask God for three things:
-provision (“our daily bread”),
-forgiveness (“forgive us our debts”),
-and guidance (“lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one”).
During this season of Prayer and Fasting together as a church, let us always remember to celebrate, anticipate, and ask. Celebrate our King for who He is and all that He has done and will do. Anticipate that the best is still yet to come. And Ask our Heavenly Father to continue to provide, forgive, and guide us, as He has promised to do.
As you pray and fast, please remember to pray for the following for our church:
-Revival in our lives, church, city, nation, and world
-Guidance for our Lead Pastor and Student Pastor Search Teams
-God’s provision for our church
-Wisdom for our Church Leadership
-An incredible movement of God
Keep praying, and keep going!
-Chad Boak, Creative Pastor