Thanks for your wonderful comments on prayer. I was inspired by your beautiful words and moving prayer experiences. If you haven’t read the comments to Pondering Prayer, take a moment to do so. I think you’ll be blessed as well. And even if you didn’t respond hopefully the question (and comments) caused you to pause and reflect on your own prayer life, and maybe gain fresh insight.
In an amazing coincidence (or God-incidence) this morning's sermon was on prayer. The inspiration came from Nehemiah’s prayer to God in Nehemiah 1. (Yes, it really is a book in the Bible…I know, I hadn’t given it much thought before either. Further proof that the ENTIRE Bible deserves our attention.) Here's what I learned...
Pastor Doug, please forgive me if I misrepresent your very eloquent sermon!
Why do we pray?
“Prayer is the way our soul breathes.”
I just love the way that sounds, don’t you? So easy. So necessary. So natural.
With each breath of air we don’t think about when, why or how we should breathe, we just do it. Period. So it should be with prayer. No fancy formulas, stringent schedules or evocative elocutions. Just the natural inhalation and exhalation of our soul in response to the Almighty.
If we want to build to a life of prayer we start with three things. (And yes, this is really a rephrasing of the ACTS model of prayer.)
1. Honor God.
Nehemiah recognized what we sometimes have trouble accepting or often overlook. God is God and we’re not. Nehemiah praised God with humility and a reverential heart.
When we acknowledge God the Father; the Creator of the Universe; the One who was and is, and is to come; we adjust our hearts and attitudes into their proper perspective.
2. Be Honest with God.
Nehemiah acknowledged the gravity of his and the Israelites’ sin. Instead of casting blame, hiding behind excuses or sugar coating the problem he bared his soul with honest confession.
God sees all, so there’s nothing we do or think that He’s not already aware of. By emptying the dark, hidden corners of our life through prayer we’re then able to receive God’s grace, power and healing.
3. Ask God.
Nehemiah didn’t ask God to do something he simply wanted, he asked God to do what God had already promised Moses He’d do. God responded in a miraculous way.
Our prayers tend to try to bend God’s will to ours. In addition to our Father's unique purpose for each of our lives, Scripture is filled with His promises to us. When we line up our prayers with God’s will, as Nehemiah did, we will receive powerful responses.
I'm ready to get started. How about you?
Just don't forget...breathe. Your soul will thank you.
For some spiritual CPR, check out this video for an inspiring breath.
Michael W. Smith, “Breathe”