Sermons

Summary: A call to dedicate our lives to prayer

This is how you should pray

"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. And when you pray do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.

This is how you should pray:

Our Father in heaven,

hallowed be your name,

your kingdom come,

your will be done

on earth as it is in heaven.

Give us today our daily bread.

Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.

And lead us not into temptation,

but deliver us from the evil one."

Matthew 6:6-13

When you look at verse 6 in the King James Version it reads, "Go into your closet and pray." The first time I encountered that my immediate thought was, "Jesus has obviously never seen my closet!"

My closet is full of unplayed games, dirty gym socks that managed to evade the laundry basket, boxed Christmas decorations, photo albums and clothes so old I couldn’t fit into them with a crowbar. I don’t have time to clean my closet, let alone pray in it.

However, my Rabbi says, "This is how you should pray." He didn’t say "This is how to pray when you have the time." or "this is hot to pray when you get around to making some space for me." Jesus felt the priority of prayer was a given. It was then. It should be now.

At a retreat for young working mothers a poll was taken asking when these busy women prayed. Over half of the respondents said they prayed while in the shower. One third more said they prayed in the car on the way to work. The reason given for both prayer places pointed to the only chance the women had to be alone. They have the solitude part down - but are they really investing in the spirit of prayer?

Imagine one of your close friends coming to you and telling you she needs to talk to you seriously about something private. Would you really reply, "I can give you ten minutes if you want to get into the shower with me?" What would your friend think about that? My guess is you would clear some time for lunch or walk her out on the patio and close the door for a minute. I hope you would do that for a friend. I hope you will do that for the God who loves you.

The prayer our Rabbi teaches us has been studied and recited for centuries. When trying to give us better understanding of it most preachers and teachers use the acronym ACTS.

Adoration

Confession

Thanksgiving

Supplication

The problem with the ACTS model is the words. They are big fifty-cent words. Stained glass words. Words from an air-conditioned, padded-pew, everyone-in-a-dress church setting. But what about the everyday? What about the day you are standing by the side of the road waiting for a tow truck to haul your car back to the garage that was supposed to have fixed it correctly the first time? Is "Adoration" really the word you are thinking as the sun beats down on you? Probably not. While you are silently asking God to help the tow truck arrive before a psycho-killer notices your predicament, would you call that your supplication? It’s doubtful.

I know some better words:

"Our Father in heaven,

hallowed be your name,"

KNOW - Know that the creator of the universe is holy, and loves you.

"your kingdom come,

your will be done

on earth as it is in heaven."

REMEMBER - Remember that God is in charge.

"Give us today our daily bread.

Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors."

ACCEPT - Accept and Acknowledge what God gives to you.

"And lead us not into temptation,

but deliver us from the evil one."

ASK - Ask for God’s help, guidance and assurance.

Know, Remember, Accept, Ask: Everyday words for an all-day-long God. This model probably won’t become very popular because it doesn’t spell anything catchy. That’s okay, because when you are standing on the freeway choking down the dust as the tow truck pulls up and you feel the cool breeze of blessed relief, those are the words you’ll be thinking about.

Prayer is our time of communion with the creator of the universe. It is a time to stop everything, if only for a moment, and experience the beautiful presence of a living God. It’s a time to be who you are, where you are. This is how you should pray.

"Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed."

Mark 1:35

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