2005-01-28 - Prayer a.k.a. Conversation
Foundations, Part 2
The bottom-line building block of our spiritual foundation should be prayer. In house construction, footing is the concrete base that is poured, and then the block and brick foundation wall is built on top of the footings : ) Prayer should be our footing - for our everyday lives should be based on prayer, our continuous conversations with our Heavenly Father.
1 Thessalonians 5:17 (NASB) Pray without ceasing.
We shouldn't think of prayer as something we do once a day, but rather a never-ending stream of conversation. We should send up "bullet prayers" throughout the day - at work, driving home, before we sleep etc.
The prayers don't need to be formal. In fact, as a recent devotional by Tim reminded us, God desires prayers of the heart (see Psalm 62:8). Talk to Him as if you are talking to a loving Parent, for that is exactly what you are doing. Flowery language may impress those around you, but it doesn't impress God. And keep it simple; we don't get bonus points for the number of words we use:
Matthew 6:7 (CEV) When you pray, don't talk on and on as people do who don't know God. They think God likes to hear long prayers.
But prayer isn't just about talking to God; listening is a big part of it, as well. For those of us who are very busy, that does not come naturally. But we need to acquire the habit of listening, for that is what it is for most of us, a habit we must train ourselves to follow. Prayer conversations need to be two-way.We need to spend time listening to God. I don't mean listening for an audible voice; I mean sitting quietly before God, and then waiting for Him to speak to our spirits - whether through the Bible, an impression, a pastor, a counselor, an article or something else.
The bottom-line prayer, our first step, should be a prayer of confession. That "cleans the slate" with God. Now let's turn to David as our teacher.
First things first. In Psalm 68, he begins with praise:
VV. 7-10 O God, when You went forth before Your people, when You marched through the wilderness, Selah. The earth quaked. The heavens also dropped rain at the presence of God. Sinai itself quaked at the presence of God, the God of Israel. You shed abroad a plentiful rain, O God; You confirmed Your inheritance when it was parched. Your creatures settled in it. You provided in Your goodness for the poor, O God.
In Psalm 69, he moves on to pouring out his heart. He doesn't mince words. He doesn't pretend everything was okay, when it clearly is not. In total honesty (after all, God already knows his feelings and thoughts anyway), he - to coin a phrase from the 60s in America - "lets it all hang out."
Vv. 2-3 I have sunk in deep mire, and there is no foothold. I have come into deep waters, and a flood overflows me. I am weary with my crying; my throat is parched. I have sunk in deep mire, and there is no foothold.I have come into deep waters, and a flood overflows me.
He continues to frankly chat with his Heavenly Father, through Psalm 74. Then in 75, he returns to a point of praise.
V. 1 We thank you, God, we thank you--your Name is our favorite word; your mighty works are all we talk about.
David provides a balanced example of prayer. I encourage you to think of prayer not as a formal exercise, where you say "expected" words, but rather a place where God meets you exactly where you are. For that is what He wants to do - walk through your life with you, as you are - helping you be what He wants you to be. He doesn't care about your words or exercises; He cares about your heart.
Comments or Questions?