Yes, we know it is taking the time to talk with God, but do we pray as a way to speak a small "sermon" to those who are listening, or to let others know what we are thinking - or what we know; or do we just truly talk with God, and others may be listening in? Is prayer the thing we do to put the final touch on "something" or is it the foundation upon which we build the "something" - the main ingredient? Is prayer the thing we take time for, because we are believers and we have to, but we really think we know what to do and what we want, so the words are just what we "say"?
What is prayer?
For most of my life if I were honest, I would have had to say I had no real idea what prayer really was. I heard pastors pray, but truly had no idea how to pray on my own. I read books on prayer, tried this formula and that "recipe" for prayer, but none of them helped - they just left me more confused. It felt like the words I said never made it past the ceiling and I was not truly convinced God actually heard - or even honestly wanted to hear - my prayers. These doubts I had about prayer were lies from Satan and I believed them, so I rarely prayed.
Then one Sunday I heard a sermon on prayer by Ed Dobson, my former Dean of Students at Liberty University and the then the pastor at Calvary Church Grand Rapids, MI. This sermon changed everything! He said if we struggled with prayer, we could try praying Scripture back to God. No formula or recipe to remember and follow - just pray God's Word back to Him.
This sounded like something I could do, so I sat down and worked my way through the Bible taking passages I found and making them into personalized Scripture prayers. I was finally able to pray! If you have never tried this, consider praying this passage from Exodus today for yourself and the ones you love -
Moses answered the people, "Do not be afraid. Stand firm and you will see the deliverance the Lord will bring you today. the Egyptians you see today you will never see again. The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still." Exodus 14:13, 14Dear Father, on this day I ask for Your help to not be afraid; sometimes there are things which cause me concern, things I worry about and might even fear. Please help me to instead stand firm and trust I will see the deliverance You bring. I need to remember when I trust You, I won't need to continue to feel afraid or worry, because I am able to know for sure You will fight for me; I just need to stand still. Please help me have the confidence to not run when facing difficult times, but to move forward on the "dry ground" You provide. When this happens, please open my eyes, so I will see Your might hand, see how You save me and will trust You even more.
Please help my grandchildren/children know when they are afraid they are able to ask You for help. Please help them know when they make the choice to stand firm and trust, they will see how You deliver them. As they go through this day, please help them remember to trust You and when they do, please help them experience how they do not need to continue to feel afraid or worry, because they are able to know for sure, You will fight for them; they just need to stand still. It is likely my grandchildren/children will experience difficult, even frightening times in their lives; please help them have the confidence to not run, but to move forward on the "dry ground" You provide. When this happens, please open their eyes, so they will see Your mighty hand, see the truth of how You save them and will trust in You even more. Thank You for Your great love for us; I love You, too. Amen.