Weekly Scripture: Matthew 6:5-15
Have you ever wondered why we pray? Prayer is foundationally important to our relationship with God. Jesus reminds us that God already knows our needs before we even ask, so we don’t pray in order to give this all-knowing, all-present, and all-loving God new information about our lives. There are some passages in the Old Testament that speak of God repenting and deciding against a course of action because of the intercession of one of the faithful. However, we do not have to convince God to be compassionate and merciful and restorative – that is the true nature of God. We regularly lift to God the names of loved ones who need a specific experience of God’s presence, healing, or grace. But God does not weigh how many people have prayed and how often hey have prayed before God decides to act – or not act – in any certain way. So, what happens in prayer? Why do you pray?
There are many types of prayer. For example, there is intercessory prayer (where we bring the needs of ourselves or others before God, standing as a mediator between God and the place of need); imaginative prayer (where we use the mind to visualize encounters with God); meditative prayer (where we turn a word or phrase or Scripture passage over and over in our hearts and minds, in order to see the message of God from every angle); and contemplative prayer (where we focus and center ourselves deeply in the realities of God). These are just a few types of prayer. Regardless of the style of prayer you employ, powerful and meaningful experiences of prayer of all kinds begin with the desire to spend time with God for the sole purpose of spending time with God. I have found that prayer is similar to the experience portrayed in the image above – two friends talking and listening and sharing the simple joy of being together. Prayer is built upon our relationship with God. And, at the same time, prayer deepens our relationship with God. I like to define prayer as our call and response conversation with God that develops out of our connection and communion with God. How has prayer enhanced your relationship with God?
A key ingredient for any conversation – and especially with prayer – is the art of listening. In this week’s Scripture, much of Jesus’s prayer focuses on God’s intentions for us: that God’s will will be done, and not our will; that God would provide what we need, not what we think is good for us; that God would reign over heaven and earth, and we would find our place in God’s kingdom; and that God would direct our paths, so that we might not lead ourselves into evil. How do you listen to God in prayer? When we listen to God, we often find that we are the ones changed by prayer – and not God. How has prayer changed you? Continue to pray and listen for God’s voice – there is nothing more important you could do.
Breath Prayer: LORD God, speak to us and give us listening hearts.