It was a quiet Christmas Eve and our family gathered in the living room. Grandpa Suderman said we would have prayer. Soon the family knelt together and the prayers began. I listened with my six year old heart in wonderment. Grandpa, then Grandma, Alfred, Alma, Dad, Mom, Jonas, Eli, Bernice and Irene prayed. These were not brief prayers, but heart-felt prayers.
To a six year old, I wondered how much longer I would have to kneel. I knew my eyes should be shut, but I was tired. I crossed one foot over the other, and soon crossed back. My knees were uncomfortable. Finally I peeked. What I saw is indelibly etched on my mind….I could see everyone one of the family, bowing, kneeling, hands clasped in prayer to our Father. I noticed that my cousins were restless, too.
We often prayed as a family on Christmas Eve in the same manner, just the five of us. There was always prayer at meal times, and we learned the simple prayer – “For all we eat, for all we wear, for all we have, everywhere, We thank Thee, Father.” To our delight, later our grandchildren echoed “Amen” when we revisited the children’s prayer.
Prayer is a beautiful opportunity to converse with God. Prayer comes from the heart, containing what is on the heart, because of a need to touch the heart of God. Praying is not just a monologue, but a dialogue. Listening is just as important, or more so, than a one sided ‘conversation’.
A prayer life begins early through observation and teaching. It continues as a process and reveals the depth of faith that is growing. Recently our three year old grandson, Sam, finished his prayer and turned to his Mom and said, “Jesus said no.” That is a lesson some of us still have trouble understanding. Yes, prayer is always answered.
There was a time when the distractions of life curtailed my prayer life. Yes, I read all of the prayer scriptures and went through the form – but there is more. That time was lonely and I didn’t know why.
Why should we pray? What does prayer consist of? How often should we pray? What happens to prayers that we pray? To Whom should we pray?
When we decide to build/make our own home, we build it for our purposes. We build it to our specifications and for our enjoyment. God created us for his purposes and enjoyment. In Psalm 139:13, "For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother's womb". "God gives us gifts and purpose in our lives before we were born.…for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good will" Philippians 2:13.
A part of that purpose is to pray. Do not fret or have any anxiety about anything, but in every circumstance and in everything, by prayer and petition (definite requests), with thanksgiving, continue to make your wants known to God. Philippians 4: 6. Our Father in Heaven loves to hear ‘thank you’s’ and that is part of prayer.
Prayer consists of praise and thank you’s, as well as petitions for our needs and our desires. Not only for ourselves, but for others – family, brothers and sisters in Christ locally and beyond and the lost who need Jesus. Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened. Matthew 7:7-8.
Prayer is foundational in our lives. Jim Cymbala gives the illustration of the harmony of three notes to create a chord. One note of the three note chord represents music, one worship and one the Word. Then Jim Cymbala plunked a bass note, identifying it as prayer. That tone gives the chord it color and clarity of focus.
When do we pray? Or shall I ask, when do we breathe? I Thessalonians 5:16-18 says, Always be joyful. Never stop praying. Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus. Praying is a constant conversation with God – He gives us hope, life, forgiveness, grace and unconditional love. … he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me. II Corinthians 12:9
Where do we pray? Where we are. Jonah prayed from the belly of the big fish. We may not pray in such a situation as Jonah, but we can pray anywhere and about anything. For the past several months I have found the perfect place to pray, walking…. I lift up my arms and my heart to God and feel His presence walking in His Creation, giving him praise..
The Message includes the attitude of prayer in I Timothy 2:8 - Since prayer is at the bottom of all this, what I want mostly is for men to pray—not shaking angry fists at enemies but raising holy hands to God. How pleasant our world would be if we heeded this admonition.
Have you ever wondered what happens to all the prayers uttered through the ages to our Lord? After God hears them, what does He do with them? Just as we save and print off each precious email from our children and grandchildren, God captures and saves the prayers we utter.
And when he had taken it, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb. Each one had a harp and they were holding golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints. Revelation 5:8
Ephesians 3:16-17a - I pray that out of his glorious riches He may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith.
When one elderly man prayed at the Lord’s Table, he wept. I wondered why then. Not I know. I look into the skies and say, ‘Holy Holy, Holy is the Lord God Almighty.” My voice breaks and tears flow. For now I know the absolute wonder of our Lord. His love is more vast than the expanse of the sky. His patience reflects the calmness of the rays of the sun through storm clouds. His kindnesses are as refreshing as the Spring Rain. His forgiveness sweeps sin from my heart like the warm South sind. His blessings surround me like the sweet scent of a garden of flowers.
Is it any wonder that I praise Him? Is it any wonder I cry, “Holy, Holy Holy is the Lord God Almighty!