Wednesday, August 28, 2013

The Lord's Prayer II

Your kingdom come. Matthew 6.10

One of the things that we can be sure of in this life is that this is not how God intended for things to be. We live in a sinful, fallen, corrupt world. Satan has caused people (all people) to sin. Our sin, and the sin of all humanity, has caused turmoil, strife, disaster and more all around the world.

Sometimes we can see God at work in our sinful world. There is a new baby, a miraculous healing, a glorious sunset. We hear testimonies of a life turned around, redeemed from addiction, crime and wasteful living. We know that there is more to this life than the unfortunate condition that we find ourselves in. 

God has a kingdom that is not a part of our status quo. His kingdom is one in which he rules and controls everything. And all of that is for the good, the blessing and benefit of his people. That is the kingdom that followers of Christ long for. Our hearts cry out for God to reign in our lives and in our world. We seek the protection that he can offer.
Our prayer needs to be that God's kingdom would be the reality that we live in every day. 

Prayer: Lord, we are unhappy with the way the world is. Fix it, we pray. We ask that your kingdom, your reign and your rule would come into our world today. May our reality be that we are your subjects. Fill us with a longing for your work in us. Amen.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

God's Answers

Are you ready for some honesty? Can you handle it if I share with you a real problem that I have? Don't think bad of me, but sometimes I get very frustrated because my prayers seem ineffective. I know that God is out there somewhere, but it seems that he is not listening to me. I am sure that there are times- sometimes it seems like weeks, months or years- when he doesn't answer at all. The Bible teaches me that God is there, that he cares about me, that he listens to my prayers and that he always answers me. But in reality, it doesn't always feel like that.
So, what can I do? How does God speak to me? What can I know for sure about God and his answers to my prayer? I think that there are many ways that God answers us, but his response to our prayers generally fall in only a few categories.
  • Go. There are times when God answers right away. He looks at my life and blesses me. There are times when my desires are consistent with God's will and he gives me an answer to my prayers that is resoundingly affirmative. I can be certain that God is in charge and that he is encouraging me to move forward.
  • Slow. There are other times when I think I know what is best, but it just doesn't work for the Lord. He may support the idea that I am praying for, but the timing is off. Maybe I need to work on my relationship with God, or with others, or even with myself, but his answer to me is “not yet.” This doesn't mean that God is telling me know, or even that he is not answering at all. It means that God is trying to work on patience in my life. There will be an answer, but I have to wait. I can proceed, but I need to be sure that I am operating on God's time.
  • Whoa. Sometimes I get ahead of God. I have a great idea, or at least I think its a great idea, but God is not quite ready for it yet. I need to stop what I am doing, at least for a season. I may get to go again, but not now.
  • No. Brace yourself. This is the answer that we usually don't want to hear. But there are situations in which we need to pay attention to God's denials. But remember this, when he says no, it is always because there is something better that God has in mind for us.
  • I don't know. One point of clarification here: God knows everything. His answer is never “I don't know.” But, often we think the answer is I don't know. Almost always, when we think the answer is I don't know, we can find God speaking one of the other answers to us.

Today, you may be frustrated because you are not hearing from God, or at least you are not hearing what you want from God. Know that he is speaking to you. Remember that there are many answers that he might be giving. As you pray, ask God to help you hear his voice, even if he is saying something you don't want to hear.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

The Lord's Prayer I

Our Father in heaven,
Hallowed be Your name. Matthew 6.9 

When we pray, at least as Jesus taught us, we are to begin our prayer with an address and with worship.

Our address is an intimate expression of a relationship. When Jesus taught us to pray to our Father, it wasn't a formal or unfamiliar greeting. The idea of calling God Father was completely foreign to the disciples. God was seen as being far away from humanity. He was not someone that you could know personally. When Jesus suggested that we address God in this way he was offering us the opportunity to have a personal, familial relationship with God. Think of saying 'Our Father' in the same way that you would say "Hi, Dad!"

Perhaps the hardest word in the Lord's Prayer is hallowed. After all, no one uses that word anymore. It has become archaic and subject to misinterpretation and misunderstanding.  Let me offer some suggestions to help with that.

  • Hallowed comes from the same word as Halloween, which is All Hallow's Eve, the night before All Saint's Day.
  • Hallow also shares the same root as holy, holiness, whole, wholeness and holistic. Being holy is more than just a spiritual experience for a few Christians. It is the desire of God that all his children be "whole" and "holy."
  • God serves as our example for holiness.

Finally, it is crucial that in our prayers we recognize who God is and offer our praise and worship to him. That is what it means to hallow God's name. I challenge you today to love God and worship him.

Prayer: Lord God, you are great and holy. I offer to you my love and honor. You are great and greatly to be praised. You are high above me and all that I know. I am humbled in your presence. Speak to me, O God, and make me like you, holy and whole. Amen.

Eyes Wide Open

Have you ever tried praying with your eyes open? It can be dangerous. I mean, there are distractions everywhere you look. When I am looking at the world I can get easily sidetracked in my prayers. I notice a person walking outside my window, or a family on a bike ride, or a bird, or the sunlight, or traffic seems a little heavy today, I wonder what's going on uptown. That's where everyone seems to be headed. What am I missing out on? Did I forgot something important at the library? Maybe someone died. I miss my grandma. She was such a great prayer- warrior. Ooops. I'm supposed to be praying.

But there is an upside.
 When I have my eyes open, I can be praying for that family walking. I can be reminded to thank God for the birds, the sunshine and all his blessings to me. I pray for those who I see. You see, if we allow it to happen, watching the world can be a great aid to prayer time. Give it a try. You might like it.

Dear Lord, I don't want to be distracted by the cares of this world, but I want to be sure to  be in tune with your work and your creation. Show me the needs that I can pray for and the things that I can do to bring your kingdom on earth. Amen.