Sunday, August 21, 2005

The series of preaching on prayer started with an introduction today earlier in the service that a friend and me attended. It was a real eye-opener, that much I can tell you. Truth be told we all think that praying is such a chore. Most often times we put it off because we don't get what we prayed for, we're too busy, we have to find a quiet spot to pray, preferrably somewhere no one can see us lest they think that we're ooo... "religious" or something ("there goes my social life!"). Another popular reason for not praying, at least for Roman Catholics, is that for prayers to be effective it should be done either inside the church, a chapel, or in front of an altar. I should know that, I spent half of my life in a Catholic school indoctrinated with those things.

It still doesn't cut no matter how many or how valid our excuses may be. True we should at least spend some time alone in a secluded spot talking to God and asking for His grace to guide us through the day but it shouldn't be as long as half an hour or so. One of our most loved Pastors in VCF, Luther Mancao, recently confessed last Sunday that he only spent 5 minutes of his time that morning communing with God. Bible reading and studying of course is an entirely different matter. That's where you spend a lot of sweet time getting whatever you can from your reading (heck, if you can spend a good hour or so reading Tolkien, Rowling, King, or Crichton, it'll be a cinch). Another thing that prayer doesn't require a lot of your time is the fact that you could do it wherever and whatever you're doing. Whether it be at work, in school, while walking, while commuting, while driving, while waiting, playing sports, or just plain ol' relaxing. Don't believe me? How 'bout that example by a nervous royal servant turned author who whispered a quick prayer in the middle of conversing with his royal employer? It's almost but not quite like the same as sending a text message to your friend or loved one in the middle of what you're doing. If you have a relationship with God then you shouldn't see any reason not to talk to Him, right? Another thing that could be of comfort to you if you've already reached the end of your ropes and you don't know if there's still any hope for you, God is a lot closer to you than you'd think.

Anyway, the introductory topic earlier was about the three attitudes we need when praying. It's every simple to do but quite hard to maintain, I tell ya that but that shouldn't discourage you from going through with it:
• Pray boldly. To help his listeners understand what he was talking about, he used the illustration of the midnight caller asking for emergency supplies from his neighbor for an impromptu visitor. The main thing that came to mind when I heard this, that I also shared with my friend, is that you should know your position in Christ with regards to this. But knowing your position is a two-edged sword: it both encourages and humbles you. It encourages you because as an adopted child of God (by way of your repentance and asking Jesus to be your personal Lord and Savior) you have every right to ask as a child asks from his or her father. As Jesus reminded his listeners, "If your little boy asks for a serving of fish, do you scare him with a live snake on his plate? If your little girl asks for an egg, do you trick her with a spider? As bad as you are, you wouldn't think of such a thing--you're at least decent to your own children." And if that's the case he follows, "don't you think the Father who conceived you in love will give the Holy Spirit when you ask him?" By virtue of His titles and roles, you can find out why Jesus considers the Holy Spirit to be the best gift He could give a person. Second, knowing your position is a humbling experience because you remember who you are in the face of greatness: Like a tiny speck of dust in front the sun. You can now walk with confidence in knowing both these things.

• Pray persistently. How determined are you for your need? Jesus also adds a bit of a warning in the end of his illustration to His followers who tend to slack in helping and interceding for those who need their help the most.

• Pray expectantly. If you look through every account of promises God gave to his followers in the Bible, you will see that He hasn't been remiss in fulfilling everything He promised He would do. He promised Abraham and Sarah, Samuel's mother, and Samson's parents a child? He gave it to them. He promised to bring up His people from Egypt and Babylon? He did. He promised to take care of them? He still does. Here's part of a written observation concluded by one of his appointed leaders, Joshua:
So the LORD gave Israel all the land he had sworn to give their forefathers, and they took possession of it and settled there. The LORD gave them rest on every side, just as he had sworn to their forefathers. Not one of their enemies withstood them; the LORD handed all their enemies over to them. Not one of all the LORD's good promises to the house of Israel failed; every one was fulfilled.
You know He's very serious when he announced, "... I know the plans I have for you, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." If you don't believe me then go check some of them out in detail. If the once great King of Israel, David assured himself and us that, "GOD always does what he says" how can we not ask and wait expectantly for what we asked for?
I could go on and on and on about prayer but just keep in mind that praying is a two way street of communication between a person and his Friend. It's not enough that you have to make yourself heard but also you have to keep an open ear also for what He has to say to you. Cause you never know, He might have a bigger and better idea and time in mind than what you're asking of Him.

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