Closer (Part 2)


I’m back from my appointment now, and because I need so badly to work on this issue myself and get back to that true place of fellowship with God, I’ve decided to break this down a bit and deal with some of the specifics, starting with prayer. 

I used to recite formulaic prayers…knew them so well that I could rattle them off completely mindlessly.  Take the Lord’s Prayer, for example.  I would just recite the words in church, as I was looking around maybe at who was there and who wasn’t…admiring someone’s new dress…thinking how awful someone else’s haircut was.  Or maybe I was wondering if I remembered to turn the coffee pot off, or to lock my car door, or going over the menu for dinner in my mind or something.  The words were not a prayer at all.  They were just empty words.

But even in the case of praying ‘from my heart’…sometimes maybe I was more concerned about how eloquent I was being…still not really praying, but thinking about the words and how they were sounding.

In Matthew 6 when Jesus was teaching his disciples how to pray, this is how he said to do it:

Matthew 6:5-13

King James Version (KJV)

 5And when thou prayest, thou shalt not be as the hypocrites are: for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward.

 6But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly.

 7But when ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do: for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking.

 8Be not ye therefore like unto them: for your Father knoweth what things ye have need of, before ye ask him.

 9After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name.

 10Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.

 11Give us this day our daily bread.

 12And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.

13And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen.

 

Some people think that means that Jesus was saying to recite that prayer.  And we do that in a lot of churches.  And I don’t think there’s anything wrong with reciting it…as long as you’re thinking about what you’re saying when you’re saying those words.  But Jesus warned against ‘vain repetitions’ in the beginning of that passage, so would that be all it was if that’s all we do?  What Jesus was doing, was teaching them how to pray.  He wasn’t saying they had to say those exact words.  So let’s break it down.  And firstly, Jesus said more in that passage than just the section I put above.  So I encourage you to read all of what he said about prayer in Matthew 6.

Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. 10Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.

What are we doing here?  First, “Our Father”…we’re recognizing that God is our Father.  He loves us as a Father…because He is our Father.  He is going to care for us and provide our needs as such, and maybe not give us everything we ask for…just as an earthly father wouldn’t do so.  If you know something’s not in your child’s best interest, you’re not going to give it to them no matter how much they think they want it…not if you love that child.  And God does love us.

So we’re placing ourselves in the presence of our heavenly Father. Next, we’re recognizing that He is holy.  “Hallowed be thy name.”  Because He is holy, we should be coming before Him with due reverence.  “Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.”  We’re submitting ourselves to His will, recognizing His authority and that His plans go beyond our little personal world.  Whatever happens…we’ll be good with it.

 11Give us this day our daily bread. 12And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.

Ask Him for what you need…and what you desire too.  He wants us to.  But then he also says that very important next part.  Ask forgiveness for where we’ve gone wrong…in the same way that we’re willing to forgive those who’ve wronged us.  That’s really important, because if you’re not willing to forgive someone else for their hurts toward you, Jesus is saying that we shouldn’t expect to be forgiven for our sins when we ask.  Our forgiveness of others is an important key to God’s mercy on us.

 13And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen.

Finally, we ask God to help us from falling into the temptations in our life…help us to not sin…to protect us from evil, and from harm.  And again, recognizing His authority with that final sentence…everything is His.  Everything.

So summing it up, go before your holy, heavenly Father.  And when I say “go before”, I mean to put yourself in His holy presence, and submit yourself to His perfect will.  Ask Him for what your needs are, and ask His forgiveness for your sins…and if necessary, His help to forgive others.  Ask Him to guard and protect you against harm and against temptation.  And be specific with the sins and the temptations that you are aware that you struggle with.  And finally, recognize His authority in your life and give Him the glory.

All of that said, remember too that we’re told in 1 Thessalonians 5:17 to “pray without ceasing.”  I’ve heard lots of people say that they don’t know how to pray.  But I’ll bet they know how to go tell their problems to a friend when they need to.  All that prayer is, is a conversation with God.  I was talking in that last post about how God will talk to us.  Well one of the ways I’ve experienced this is that when I’ve really gone into His presence and honestly into prayer with Him…just talking the very same way I would talk to anyone else…no formal words or anything…sometimes a Scripture verse will just come to my mind, and when I look it up I find that it’s a direct and specific answer to me.  Sometimes He has told me things that way that weren’t at all what I expected, but convicted me of something else that I wasn’t paying attention to in my life. 

God does not just want to be some imaginary friend…or some Santa Claus or something.  He wants fellowship with us.  Isaiah 50:4 even says that God would awaken him every morning so He could talk to him, and instruct him:

Isaiah 50:4

New International Version (NIV)

 4 The Sovereign LORD has given me a well-instructed tongue,
   to know the word that sustains the weary.
He wakens me morning by morning,
   wakens my ear to listen like one being instructed.

As I said in the beginning of this, I’m doing this because I want, and need to get back to a place of true fellowship with God in my life.  Maybe you want to, along with me?

Have a blessed Tuesday!

Anne

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About Anne Sikes

"But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us." (2 Cor. 4:7) Sharing the journey through daily thoughts and struggles, examination of Scripture, poetry, music and art.
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7 Responses to Closer (Part 2)

  1. terry1954 says:

    But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly.

    this verse i have been searching for, thank you!! i have lost a new found friend last week over this topic. i don’t always attend church, partly for my brother’s medical problems, and partly because of issues with religion churches. i have much faith, and i know and believe god is with me at all times. i always remembered the verse you quoted but couldn’t find it. this friend has relieved himself as a friend because i am not a regular attender of church and because i don’t speak in tongues

    • Anne Sikes says:

      I’m so sorry Terry. I’ve been there where I’ve lost friends due to disagreements in the past. Hold fast to what God tells you to do, and all you can do as far as people who disagree is pray for them. I will say though, that being in church is a good thing. I know that being part of the wonderful church that I am her, staying in fellowship with other believers and hearing God’s Word and all…it all serves to keep me stronger in Christ. That said, I had times where I didn’t go either. You don’t ‘have to’ go. But it’s beneficial in many ways. Will be praying for you, your brother and your friend. Thank you for your comment! Blessings…Anne

  2. Very nicely done. 🙂 It reminds us of where we need to be in our walk.

  3. Hey Anne, Take a look at “vain repetitions” again, but this time focus on the “vain” part. Could it be Jesus was advising against “proud” or “conceited” and not the repetition part? Just a thought. let me know what you think?

    Be encouraged!

    • Anne Sikes says:

      Thanks Stephen, yes I do agree with you about that, and thank you so much for pointing it out. I definitely agree that our motives and ‘heart’ behind whatever it is we’re doing is the biggest issue. I do think that with repetitive prayers though, it’s easy to get into that thing I was talking about where you have no thought to what you’re even saying. If I’m praying to God and just repeating words without thinking about them, that’s not really praying, I think. Know what I mean? So I don’t think it’s a sin to do it, but think in that case it’s just ineffective and meaningless…speaking from my own experience with just rattling off words without thinking about them. Thank you so much for pointing that out! Anytime I misspeak, or say something you don’t agree with, I greatly appreciate you pointing it out. I had to go back and look at this…just woke up from a long, much needed nap. Blessings! Anne

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