Wednesday, September 26, 2007

A template for prayer

Grand Sweep Daily Reading: Matthew 5, 6, 7

Matthew 6:5-8 (NIV)

5 [Jesus said,] “And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by men. I tell you the truth: they have received their reward in full. 6 But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. 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.

Good morning!

When I attended my first scrapbook crop, the consultant handed me a blank 12x12 scrapbook page, some pretty markers, a page of stickers and a template. She smiled at me and said, “Okay Deb, it’s time to create!” Oh boy. I hadn’t created anything spectacular since grade school art class and what I took home was something only a mother could love. And even though I may have an active imagination, taking those colors and hues from inside my mind’s eye and transferring them onto a blank page does not come easy for me. I need that template to guide me.

Have you ever felt at a loss while trying to pray? Thank goodness that Jesus provided His disciples with a template for prayer. If you are like me, personal prayer time may not come easy for you. We wonder where to begin. When conversing with others, we speak our minds and then wait for a reply. Often, it is difficult to speak our heart and then wait for God’s reply to us. He always answers, but I can tell you from my own experience, I do not always hear or understand what it is He is saying.

It can feel just a little weird going into a room and shutting the door and talking to God without a visual aid to help you focus. That is why I truly enjoy spending time in prayer rooms. Prayer rooms are awesome places to connect with our Lord, who sees, hears and answers. It does not have to be a big room, in fact, I prefer a smaller space. A comfy chair with a reading lamp, box of tissue and some soft throw pillows help make the room an inviting place to speak your heart. It is especially helpful to have either a table or an altar area with a Bible and a prayer guide to help focus our hearts on His Word. I like looking at the cross when I pray. Having a cross on the table or hanging on the wall make a purposeful focal point and draws us closer to Him. Prayer rooms can be anywhere – a physical place inside your church, a designated spot in your home, and even in your closet, if you can make a space in between all your shoes and clothing. My automobile is a virtual prayer closet. There are times when I simply pour my heart out to the Lord while driving down the highway between work and home. One must remember to always keep their eyes open while praying and driving in the car.

Jesus expressed concern for how the people approached the Father in prayer. Grandstanding and wordy, flowery gibberish, does not impress God. He goes deeper than the vocabulary that pours from our lips. God looks at our hearts. He is much more interested in our sincerity and desire to connect with Him as we spend time worshipping, confessing, and praising Him in prayer. He sees right through the rote rituals and memorized prayers we repeat. If it means nothing to us as the words fall from our lips and disappears into thin air, how can our prayers mean anything to the Father who knows us even better than we know ourselves?

Of all the things I find most comforting in life, I am thankful the Lord knows what I need before I ask Him. There are times when I’m not sure I know what I need or how to even ask. When I first started purposefully praying each day, I used to make a laundry list of all my needs and the needs of those I was praying for and then presented them in chronological order to the Lord. I learned that He was listening and answering even as I wrote the names and needs on the paper. God was hearing my prayers before I ever spoke the words out loud. I love serving a Lord who hears me before I even open my mouth.

I’ve often wondered about Jesus’ promise of a reward for those who pray in secret, and I’ve learned that the reward is Him. It is the Jesus Christ Himself, showing up and listening to my heart. It is His everlasting arms of grace that wrap me up in mercy and love, so undeserved. It is a relationship that I cannot describe adequately with human words. Even if praying alone behind closed doors makes you feel a little bit awkward at first, I want to encourage you not to stop. Like every relationship we build with family members and friends, the joy that comes from spending time in sacred conversation with the Lord is not only time well spent, but it will be the spiritual under girding that moves you through each day.

I know a pastor who is called by the Lord to teach and encourage people on prayer and inviting the presence of God into their daily lives. His life experiences and teaching has made a huge impact in my personal prayer time with God. He will be leading a prayer seminar in St. Charles, Missouri and Kansas City, Missouri, November 3-4, 2007. If you would like to go with me and hear Dr. Terry Teykl speak, please e-mail me today at I will be happy to provide you with more information about this worthwhile prayer seminar.

Sometimes we just need someone to hand us a blank page and a template to guide us. May the Lord of life write upon your heart the prayers He desires you to pray. The Father knows your every need before you even utter the words. His desire is for you to speak with Him in holy conversation every day of your life, and throughout all eternity.

Grace and peace,

Deb Spaulding

Faith UMC - St. Charles, MO

Pray for: God to give you the desire to enter into a holy conversation with Him. Take some time to draw near to the Lord in prayer. Go into your room and shut the door, and seek the treasure of an intimate, personal relationship with Jesus Christ today. If you seek Him, He will find you.


© Copyright 2007, Deb Spaulding

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