January 31st, 2023 - Pray as You Can

Pray as You Can

Today we pause. Take a few deep breaths. In and Out. Don't rush past this moment as the Lord of lords and King of kings wants to meet with you now.

Lord Jesus as I draw near to you now, would you draw near to me? Just as your disciples asked you two thousand years ago to teach them to pray, would you now teach me how to pray. Speak now Lord. Your servant is listening.

This week our focus is on becoming the men and women that God has called us to become. As we talked about this past Sunday, this process happens when we are connected to the "True Vine" as we allow God's presence to transform our lives. While all spiritual disciplines, or practices, are important in ushering in the presence of God in our lives, there is no practice more foundational than prayer.

When it comes to our relationship with Jesus prayer should be the fuel and the fire that motivates us to love God more deeply and love others more radically. However, over the centuries prayer has become one of the most misunderstood disciplines that Jesus commands his followers to practice. Prayer sadly has become more complicated and convoluted than it needs to be. At its most basic level prayer is simply the tool that is used to build our relationship with the Lord. It is in prayer that we praise the Lord for who He is and all that he has done. It is in prayer that we ask him to come through in our world to make the wrong things right. It is in prayer that we depend on the Lord to meet our daily needs. It is in prayer that we find a source of strength and power to overcome the temptations of our day. It is in prayer that our hearts are softened to allow the Lord to reconcile damaged relationships. Again prayer is the foundation of our spiritual life and our relationship with Jesus.

Paul in his letter to the church in Philippi gave this infamous message:

Philippians 4:6-7
"Don't worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God's peace which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hears and minds as you live in Christ Jesus."

In this passage, Paul expresses that the source of our worries and anxieties often come because we don't bring them to the Lord in prayer. Is your heart heavy? Is there something that is weighing down your soul? Are you wrestling with the pain of the past? Are you consumed by the problems of tomorrow? Paul's exhortation is to bring all of these things to the Lord. And the beautiful thing about bringing these issues to Him, there is no need to clean up our language. We don't have to get super spiritual and use big theological words. The Lord wants our hearts. He wants our honesty in prayer. King David, who would become known as "a man after God's own heart," was someone that prayed provocative prayers to the extent he might be embarrassed to know that they have been collected in put in book form for billions of people to read throughout history. However, as your read David's prayers in the book of Psalms, you realize that David doesn't hold back. He is brutally honest with the Lord. When he is mad he tells the Lord. When he is sad or disappointed he tells the Lord. When he is hurt or depressed he brings it to the Lord. This is the goal of prayer to bring the reality of ourself to the Lord and be honest before him.

Dom John Chapman say, "Pray as you can, and don't try to pray as you can't."  When it comes to prayer don't try to be like someone else, be yourself with the Lord. In his book Pray Like Monks, Live Like Fools, Tyler Staton says,

"If you can't pray for an hour, great. Don't try. It'll feel like an eternity. Pray for a minute...If you zone out every time you try to pray at home, pray while you're running errands or exercising or walking down the sidewalk. If you can't concentrate enough to pray aloud, journal prayers with paper and pen. If you can't pray with hope and faith, God isn't bothered. He wants you to tell him about your doubt and disappointment. If you can't pray in phrases of praises and adoration, don't fake it. Pray your complaints, your anger, or your confusion. And if you're more comfortable with cynicism than innocence, unsure about your motives, afraid or silence, afraid of an answer, or pretty confident you aren't doing it right, you're in the perfect starting place. Pray as you can. Show up, and keep showing up."

Richard Foster says, "By praying we learn to pray." And so as our devotion comes to a close this today we invite you to not listen, or read, word from someone else, but instead spend time coming before the Lord in prayer.

It is you and your heavenly Father now meeting together. What do you need to say to him?... What does he need to say to you?

Lord we freely confess that at times we neglect engaging in prayer for a multitude of reasons, but today we submit ourselves to you in prayer. Come Lord Jesus now and meeting with me.