Last Friday I had the honor and pleasure of being asked to speak to a local workplace’s prayer meeting. There’s really only one thing that's more encouraging to a preacher/speaker than being asked to speak somewhere for the first time, and that’s being asked to come back and do it again! Hopefully, after they’ve run through all the other preachers in town, they’ll have me again :)
I thought I’d share here what we talked about in terms of prayer. Here it is:
L: Language: we often think we have to use a specialized language for prayer, but it’s really not the case. As 1 Samuel 16:7 reminds us, God looks at the heart. While I think we should speak respectfully to the Almighty God of the Universe, there’s also no reason to fancy-up our speech. He understands us.
I: Inability: I have encountered many people in ministry years that worried that they weren’t praying right. Guess what? We generally aren’t praying right. However, it doesn’t matter. Romans 8:26-27 points out that when we are unable to pray, God still comprehends. If we expect prayer to be a formula, we’re missing a major point: prayer is about communicating with God. He works in accordance with His will, His grace, and His goodness. There is no “magic” to prayer that guarantees anything and we would do well to trust that our praying efforts, though imperfect, are received with grace.
P: Persistence: we cannot give up. There are parables, such as Luke 11:5-9, that remind us of the need to never give up in prayer. We need to realize that part of what happens when we pray is that we commit ourselves to being used by God in obedience.
S: Service: 1 Peter 3:7 speaks to the idea that husbands cannot expect their prayers to be heard if they are treating their wives badly. That in itself is the source of plenty of contemplation. The point I want to draw from it is this: if we are not living lives that reflect a desire to serve others in Christian love, then praying for them isn’t much good either. Let our lives match our prayers.