CONVERSING WITH GOD
||CHRIST'S HANDS ACROSS THE INTERNET|
Where christians come to share, pray and study.
By Michael Hawkinson
|"Oh God, I am sorry. Please forgive me. I know I have been far from you. Please take me back."
||"Oh God, why can't I stop sinning? I say I will never do it again and I fail."
|"Why God? Why did this have to happen?"
||"I praise you O Lord God, you are awesome and I am so thankful for your love."
|"God, please heal this person and restore their health."
||"Father, if you will do this for me, I will serve you forever."
|"God, My God, why have you forsaken me?"
||"God? Are you there? Can you hear me?"
Desperate pleas, spoken daily by thousands. Bargaining, begging, pleading, praising and accusing. What is prayer? Well, if one reads "the books" out there one could become very confused. So many people are caught up in form, content and posture. One person teaches that one must always praise God first and then ask for any needs; another says if you forget to actually say "In Jesus name" at the end of your prayer that God does not have to honor it; yet another says God cannot hear us if we have sin in our lives or lack faith; still others insist that one must be kneeling, hand folded or hands raised with palms up, in or out; and finally their are some who feel that one should pray to idols or icons or ask the dead for help as they will change God's heart.
I have been asked by some to share what God has shown me in response to the questions, "What is the truth about prayer? What is prayer?" Prayer is conversation with God and God alone. (The discussion of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit will be another time). That is the best and clearest definition. It may be a sincere "Thank you." or the sharing of a need. It may be a simple quiet communion with Him. More than form and content, or position and posture, is the heart of the one praying. One only need to read of some of the prayers asked of God to realize that there is no prerequisite to speaking to God. (Although disobedience and railing against God can bring His anger against those of His children who persist in their rebellion.)
In the Word one sees people praying while standing, kneeling, laying on their faces. One sees people beating their breasts, with hands raised or dancing naked before the Ark of God. Eyes open. Eyes shut. One sees people weeping, yelling, begging, adoring and rejoicing as they speak to God.
Our prayers change as we get to know God. Those who are coming to know Him and are not His children may approach Him with fear, with uncertainty and with great hesitancy. Unsure that they are worthy of speaking to Him. Let me assure you, He covets the time with those who are seeking to know Him.
Children and those who have have grown to love God, pray with much faith, without guile and openly express themselves. God loves the prayers of faith. That is to say, prayers openly expressing the desires of their hearts. Prayers made confidently knowing that God hears every Word, and fully expecting Him to answer.
No matter how, what, where or why we speak to God, He will always answer and His answer can be trusted. We are warned about lengthy prayers or repeating prayers as though repetition will strengthen the power of our words. (In some modern Pagan practices power is said to be given to words that are repeated three times.) This clearly displeases God as taught by Solomon in Ecclesiastes 5: 2 "Do not be quick with your mouth, do not be hasty in your heart to utter anything before God. God is in heaven and you are on earth, so let your words be few. " Jesus taught in Matthew 6:7 "And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. 8. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him." Jesus then gives an example of prayer which is called "The Lord's Prayer." This chapter also contains the well known verse 33, "But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well."
Yet, can't repetition be honest? Yes, I believe it can be. How many times have we begged or been begged "Can't we have pizza? Please!? Please!?" (or car keys, more money, another item of food, just one more board game, another 5 minutes, etc.) Just remember, sometimes it works and sometimes it is just plain annoying. If you mean it, say it! However, I will caution you that if you are praying something outside of God's will or design... it will not happen, not anymore than if you asked your parents or spouse if you could have a rhinoceros for a house pet. (Editor's note: I had to wrack my brain for an example, because people are so weird there is bound to be someone who will do almost anything. So I apologize now to anyone who has a rhinoceros as a house pet.) The point being that God does not want you to separate yourself from Him.
In a healthy relationship, people freely discuss their desires with family. We simply ask. If we want the car keys, we ask, "Dad (or mom), may I have the car keys. I want to go to the game at school tonight." I am not sure the chances are increased if you repeat that 22 times in one breathe. Especially if you have been told "No" after the first three times. Jesus does give us a parable showing persistence in prayer, but there is a time lapse between requests, not the mindless repeating of a prayer like The Lord's Prayer.
Yes, we are taught to be humble, to seek His face, to have faith, to be righteous and obedient, as well as being admonished in many other ways when we seek God's face. However, we see God answering the prayers of people who do not fit into any category. If there is one thing that has become clearly evident, it is that God treats everyone as an individual. No matter what we say, God knows our heart. We may ask, "May I have the car keys to go to the game?" and fool our parents by not saying we are really going to a party... But God is not so easily fooled. He knows why you want that gorgeous girl or guy, who has been making eyes at you, to become a believer. He is probably grateful that at least you know you should not be unequally yoked, but ulterior motives are never hidden from God.
God desires fellowship with you. Yes, you! Talk to him about that gorgeous girl or guy. Speak to Him of your desires, your pains, your joys, give Him your questions, discuss your doubts and tell Him you love Him. If you spent the same amount of time speaking to your spouse, family or friends as you do with God, what kind of relationship would you have? One cannot know the joy of getting so caught up in speaking to God and listening to Him that one realizes the whole afternoon is gone or the sun is coming up already... until it happens! How many times have we gotten so caught up in sharing with someone on-line, on the phone or on a date that the hours flew by?
Is that possible when taking time to talk to God? Yes! I will say that it has to just happen. Many a time I have decided to pray for hours only to find myself drooling on my pillow. I have set aside time to pray and find myself with nothing or little to say. Other times I sit down to thank God for my meal and end up having to reheat it in the microwave. (Note: We all know "those" people and avoid having them say grace. heh heh) Sometimes I sit down to pray for a request that someone has shared and find God and I have spent hours communing and one intercession has turned into many. When getting together with family or friends, one does not plan what is going to be said or how long to say it, on the other hand, it may be necessary to "make an appointment to speak to God." What I mean is that if we do not plan a time for cleaning the house, washing the car, mowing the yard, etc., we can be easily distracted and let things go undone.
Hopefully with time you will not have to plan these "dates" with God and you will truly do what is clearly taught in the Bible. What is that? To pray without ceasing. You see, unlike family and friends, God is with us every moment. 24/7 as they say today. If you want a great example of prayers or need help praying, then read the Psalms. Pray them when you can relate to what is being said. Laugh, weep, shout and dance. (Of course you might have to limit these expressions due to location or time of day/night.) When you are alone with God, this should not be a problem.
If you are a part of CHAIN, then please take time to read the prayer requests. Even if you are not on the prayer team, just ask God to heal, help, comfort and teach those who are asking for intercession. A simple, "Lord please heal this person." is heard in the throne room of Heaven and God answers. If they have an address, take the time to send a short email to encourage them.
In closing, I want to encourage anyone who reads this to take time to talk to God. Whether you are a believer or not, God does hear you. You may or may not like what He says or does but I can assure you that He does nothing unjust, unloving or unholy. He can be trusted completely. Although we are allowed to remain on this earth for a time and to suffer it's wickedness and our mortality, God is our hope, our strength and our Redeemer. This very short but personal sharing barely scratches the surface of what the Word says about our communication with God or the consequences of that communication. I only want to assure you that God desires you to speak with Him and to listen to His voice. May you come to know and love Him personally.
Here are some short prayers and references to longer ones found in the Word of God:
David -- Psalm 51: 1,2 "Have mercy on me, O God, according to your unfailing love; according to your great compassion blot out my transgressions. Wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin."
Criminal on the Cross -- Luke 23:42 "Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom."
Abraham -- Genesis 18:23-25 "Then Abraham approached him and said: 'Will you sweep away the righteous with the wicked? What if there are fifty righteous people in the city? Will you really sweep it away and not spare the place for the sake of the fifty righteous people in it? Far be it from you to do such a thing--to kill the righteous with the wicked, treating the righteous and the wicked alike. Far be it from you! Will not the Judge of all the earth do right?'"
Ezra -- Ezra 9:6 "O my God, I am too ashamed and disgraced to lift up my face to you, my God, because our sins are higher than our heads and our guilt has reached to the heavens."
Stephen -- Acts 7:60 "Then he fell on his knees and cried out, 'Lord, do not hold this sin against them.' When he had said this, he fell asleep."
Tax Collector -- Luke 18:13 "But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, `God, have mercy on me, a sinner.'"
Jabez -- 1 Chronicles 4:10 "Jabez cried out to the God of Israel, "Oh, that you would bless me and enlarge my territory! Let your hand be with me, and keep me from harm so that I will be free from pain." And God granted his request.
Jesus -- Luke 23:34 "Jesus said, 'Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.'"
If you want to read some amazing prayers, take some time to read the following.
I Samuel 12: 12-25 - When Israel requests a king.
2 Samuel 12: 13-25 - The death of David's son.
I Kings 8:10-62 - Solomon's prayer of dedication for the temple.
Daniel 9:4-19 - Daniel's prayer for God's people
John 17:1-26 - Jesus' prayer for His followers
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