"Now I lay me down to sleep. I pray The Lord my soul to keep. If I should die before I wake, I pray The Lord my soul to take."
Now THERE is a prayer every young child should pray before they go to bed. "If I should die before I wake?" Yikes! Are you kidding me? But back when I was a kid I didn't really think about it. It was just something to say before going to bed. There was no meaning behind it.
Do you ever pray the same things over and over? I have been in worships services where the pastor prays a series of short prayers. After each prayer segment, the congregation says, "Lord have mercy, here my prayer." They sound like a bunch of drones or zombies praying. Prayer must have meaning behind the words.
So what about praying The Rosary? Isn't that repetitious? Doesn't that become kind of meaningless after a while?
Before Jesus told us how to pray The Lord's Prayer (Matthew 6:9-13), he said this.
“7 And when you pray, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do, for they think that they will be heard for their many words. 8 Do not be like them," - Matthew 6:7-8
So when you pray The Lord's Prayer is there always meaning behind the words you pray or does that prayer sometimes slip into meaningless repetitiveness?
Prayers are meant to be offered sincerely, from the very soul of God's people.
"28 Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble, and he delivered them from their distress. 29 He made the storm be still, and the waves of the sea were hushed. 30 Then they were glad that the waters were quiet, and he brought them to their desired haven." - Psalm 107:28-30
Why do we pray at all? Doesn't an all-knowing, all-seeing, omniscient God know our every thought and desire? Why even bother to pray at all? I mean, what's the point? Read on my friend. :)
Here's something that has always bothered me. If I was to ask you who prays more, Muslims or Christians, what would your answer be? That's an easy question to answer in MY mind. It's Muslims. They pray five times each day - before dawn, noon, afternoon, sunset and after sunset. How are we Christians doing when compared to a prayer life like that? Yeah . . . not so good.
So why do we pray?
When I think of prayer I can imagine several kinds. The "atheist in a fox hole" prayer for example. When something happens in our lives that's bad, we usually don't like it very much. We want to feel better. And when we can't fix they problem ourselves we cave in and pray to God for HIM to fix it. He wants to see us happy, right? So he'll fix it, right?
"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," - Isaiah 29:13
God ain't no genie! He doesn't come in a bottle or a lamp, waiting for is to rub His belly and to do our bidding. God is not a spare tire to be used only in case of emergencies. No. The only way we will be allowed into the presence of God one day is to do so cowering behind the robe of Jesus. God is to be respected and honored and worshiped and we should do so in our prayers.
We should never begin our prayers by asking for something, except maybe asking for His forgiveness. No words exist to describe how undeserving we are to come before God with a list of demands.
When Job was going through his trials back in the Old Testament, he was lamenting to His friends about all this things that had gone wrong in his life. In chapter 38, God finally had enough and began straightening Job out, reminding him just who was in control.
“Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth?" - Job 38:4
Yeah, it does take much to be humbled when we start thinking we're more important than God. When we pray we must remember who we are approaching with whatever requests we bring into His presence.
Lately, with the two Supreme Court rulings on same-sex marriage, the president of these United States telling us he has now changed his mind and supports it as well, with mega-church pastors preaching a false gospel, there certainly are many things to pray about. My knees are getting too sore and stiff to kneel much anymore.
Here's a good reminder from Noah Webster who came up with this definition back in 1828.
PRA'YER, n. In a general sense, the act of asking for a favor, and particularly with earnestness.
1. In worship, a solemn address to the Supreme Being, consisting of adoration, or an expression of our sense of God's glorious perfections, confession of our sins, supplication for mercy and forgiveness, intercession for blessings on others, and thanksgiving, or an expression of gratitude to God for his mercies and benefits. A prayer however may consist of a single petition, and it may be extemporaneous, written or printed.
Do you see an acronym in there somewhere? How about ACTS?
How many times have you prayed to the point of tears? The prayer Jesus offered before his capture and crucifixion resulted in sweating drops of blood, they were so intense. When we pray we should do so with real meaning, not just repeating words learned in Sunday school. We are also to pray in secret, not on public display for other to see and be impressed with our many words. Pray as if no one is watching. Pray to "Our Father, who art in heaven" and pray that God's "will be done, on earth as it is in heaven," not our own.
"15 And the prayer of faith will save the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven. 16 Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working." - James 5:13-16
May our prayers always have meaning. May they be according to the will of God and not of our own, and may they always be filled with Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving and Supplication.