Saturday, August 1, 2009

What to Pray

A significant majority of all Americans admit to praying. Nearly all Christians admit to praying. But what kind of prayers?

Certainly God welcomes all prayers -- indeed the main reason we pray is because He bids us pray with the promise and He hears us and He will answer us. But could I be allowed to say that I think God welcomes come prayers more than others?

Most of our prayers are prayers for something. We pray for healing for the sick, for wisdom for those who govern, for resolution to financial needs, for peace in turmoil, for confidence in uncertainty, for forgiveness of sins, for new hearts instead of the old ones so prone to failure and weakness. . . and the list goes on.

We pray for our selves, family members and friends, for situations and places, for people who are strangers to us -- from across the world and in our community.

We expect answers and we hope the answers are the ones we want (sometimes we put our expectations in these prayers, sometimes we just expect God to know what we want as outcomes to our prayers).

We are told over and over again prayer changes things... less often we are told prayer changes us (but then we are generally more concerned about changing things than we are changing us).

But surely the prayer that pleases God most is when we pray what Jesus prayed: Not my will but Thy will be done. This is not so much a prayer for something as it is a willingness to place our wills, our hopes, our dreams, our fears, our failures, our past, our present, and our future in the hands of the Lord -- trusting that His will is good, gracious, wholesome, and profitable for us and our salvation (even though it may not change things or give us the outcome we want).

This is not a simple formula that we attach to the end of our prayers so that God knows we will, if we have to, accept what is not our first choice among His answers. No, this is the ultimate prayer of faith -- the prayer that acknowledges that God is God and we are not, that allows God to be God, and allows Him not out of resignation or regret but out of affirmation and confidence.

Maybe we would change... maybe things would change... if we spent more time praying "Thy will be done" and less time praying for specific answers and outcomes from the Lord.

This is what I struggle with when I pray...

1 comment:

Janis Williams said...

Dear Pastor,

Thanks for being honest in that last sentence.

It is my struggle, also. It should be every Christian's struggle; many of us just don't admit it, and many don't even think about it.

My fear is that I will cease to struggle to say Deo volente when I make plans. Even larger than that, that I might cease to WANT to pray as Christ prayed. The spirit is willing... Fear is such a faith-killer.

Thank you for faithful preaching of the Word, and administration of the Sacraments.