Greetings friends! A few weeks ago I did a sermon where I asked for questions, and attempted to answer them all. We were so overwhelmed with good questions that they didn't fit into the sermon, so every Wednesday I'll be picking up some of the leftovers and sharing some thoughts here on the blog. If these questions spark further questions, or if you just have something nagging at you, please leave a comment below and we'll save that for another post!
This question comes up more than many might think. Lots of us seem to have some anxiety around making sure that our prayers get to the right place, that they are heard, that God will understand us. It's a bit like the frustration and anxiety that surrounds when we're "pretty sure" we have the right e-mail address for someone...
Rest assured, our prayers are heard. As a matter of fact, one of Jesus' favorite topics in his teachings is prayer. When we remember that the goal of our faith is the get closer to God in relationship, we can quickly see why this would be a priority for Jesus. He wants us to be closer to him.
In this one teaching we see a lot that we can take away from for prayer. For starters, it would appear as though the Father is the recipient of prayer. Again, it should be made as clear as possible that God does not have a mail room in which prayers addressed to the Son or to the Spirit are lost in the shuffle. After all, the Son is God, as is the Father and as is the Spirit. But that said, the classical understanding is that we pray to the Father, in the name of the Son, and through the power of the Holy Spirit. It's also worth noting that with all due respect to our Catholic brothers and sisters, God is the one to whom we pray because God is the one who provides. We as protestants do not pray to Mary, or any other saints. Our belief is that through the power of Christ, our great high priest, we can go straight to the source.
But what I think is the more important take away from this text is for us today is how much Jesus seems to want to separate anxiety from prayer. If I walked into any meeting here at the church and asked if someone would be willing to offer an out loud, public prayer, I am all but certain I would see the following face:
Prayer is not, and should never be, scary. It doesn't need to be verbose and impressive in its language. It doesn't need to be polished and clean. It doesn't need to be a performance for the sake of others. Prayer, in the end, is about communicating with the God who loves us. It's about a conversation with the lover of our souls, the one who reaches out to us again and again and saves us from ourselves. Prayer should not be a source of fear. Prayer should be a source of love.
So go ahead. Close the door to whatever room you're in right now. Take a couple of minutes to just talk to God. Tell God about your day. Tell God about your struggles. Talk to God about your hopes and dreams, and make sure to leave a little bit of room to allow God to tell you about the hopes and dreams God holds for you.
More Q and A leftovers coming next Wednesday. Stay tuned!