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18 November 2011

The Essentials of Effective Prayer 18 November

Is prayer just crying out to God in fear, in pain, for stuff we want? Of course not!
Naturally, God has created a great way to communicate with Him. To have a relationship with him. But we find a way to mess it up. Let’s see what Isaiah has to say about what people have done with prayer:

And the Lord said: “Because this people draw near with their mouth and honor me with their lips, while their hearts are far from me, and their fear of me is a commandment taught by men,  therefore, behold, I will again do wonderful things with this people, with wonder upon wonder; and the wisdom of their wise men shall perish, and the discernment of their discerning men shall be hidden.”  Isaiah 29:13-14 (ESV)

I’m guilty of perfunctory prayer. I pray because I am supposed to. I have to. I don’t always want to.
When I pray like that, God doesn’t hear me. When I simply go through the motions, His Word tells me that discernment is hidden. Wow! I can’t play games with God.

So what’s the solution? When I don’t feel like praying, what should I do? Should I recite the Lord’s Prayer? Say the prayers I learned as a child? Skip talking to God altogether since I know He won’t hear me anyway?
I think the solution is clear. I should admit my feelings to God and trust that He will help me work it out. No rote prayers. No formulas. Just honesty and transparency. That’s much harder to do, I think.

Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession.  For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin.  Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need…Consequently, he is able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them…Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the holy places by the blood of Jesus,  by the new and living way that he opened for us through the curtain, that is, through his flesh,  and since we have a great priest over the house of God,  let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water.  Heb 4:14-16; 7:25; 10:19-22 (ESV)

1.       How does Jesus help us with our prayer life?
2.       Why would we draw near to God’s throne?
3.       How do we know that we can draw near to God’s throne?

When I read these passages, I am reminded that Jesus has experienced this world. He literally sweated blood when He prayed. He had a one-on-one relationship with God. I have that same opportunity – because Jesus shed His blood. I don’t want to waste a moment with rote prayers when I can have a relationship with the Creator of the universe. Next week we will find out how an “ordinary” Christian can boldly pray!

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