Garry spoke tonight on the ‘growing pains’ which are an inevitable part of maturing, focussing on the topic of prayer. God is here with us and is listening to us, but so often, we overcomplicate [thinking it has to be done in a certain way and a certain place, at certain times and even in certain clothes! But if we are to ‘pray continually’ (1 Thess 5:17), it can’t be that complicated!
The disciples of Jesus asked him to teach them to pray (Luke 11, Matthew 6) and not only did Jesus give them the Lord’s Prayer as a framework for prayer, he also demonstrated to them on many occasions his own prayer life. In the Lord’s Prayer, we see a pattern for prayer, a pattern which includes prayer, a desire for God’s reign, requests for His provision and for forgiveness and protection.
One of the major problems we have with prayer is that there is rarely an audible response. This does not mean that God has not heard us or that he does not answer. We need to pray regardless of feelings, secure in the fact that God has promised to answer us. Jesus gave examples of how to pray and how not to pray (see Matt 6:5-6, where prayer is not simply virtue sugnalling or a show.) Prayer needs to be sincere and should also focus on others (see 2 Cor 1:8-11).We can help others through our prayers (as a church, for example, we are praying for Fredrick and Reeba in India, the children we support in Haiti, India and Uganda; Becky Murray and her One By One charity and have also been praying for Africa’s Gift and Christians Against Poverty this year.) We need to pray for our work in the community (the Parent & Toddler group, coffee morning and fun days). Praying in the Spirit (Eph 6:18) will lead us to pray for other people, lifting their situations before God.
1 Tim 2:1-3 urges us to pray for those in authority over us – MPs, councillors, leaders of groups, managers and team leders. But we must also learn to pray for those who are our enemies (see Matt 5:45, Luke 6:35). As we learn to pray in all these situations, we will become mature. Praying is never something we can stop doing; it is always something we need to work at. But the best way to grow in prayer is simply to pray!