Summary: When it comes to prayer most of us feel a sense of failure and some of us give up. This need not be. There is no one-size-fits-all method. You can be encouraged and enable in your prayer life.
COLOSSIANS 4:2-18 ’Devote yourselves to prayer’
PRAYING WITHOUT A SENSE OF FAILURE
One of the great discoveries we make as Christians, particularly when we begin to read the early chapters of Genesis, is that we were created by God, NOT to go it alone -- not to live a life disconnected from God.
* We were created by God and for God
* We were created to relate to God -- to worship and love God;
* and to be loved by God and take pleasure in God.
We were also created to be dependent on God.
It is not demeaning in any sense to be dependent on God. It is not a sign of weakness, but one of love, trust and relationship.
The first temptation was a temptation to ’go it alone’ -- ’you shall be as gods’.
And the consequence of original sin was to hide from God when he came to walk with them and talk with them because they felt ashamed. People have been condemned to go it alone ever since and even consider it to be the norm.
But when we return to God through Christ -- when we are born of the Spirit of God as believers -- then our relationship to God is restored, and we can come with confidence into the presence of God and not be ashamed. We begin to enjoy our relationship with God all over again.
Our conditioning to seek to be independent of God and go it alone is so ingrained that even as Christians we may find it difficult to get used to the idea that we were created to be dependent on God.
* We are dependent on God for food and water
* We are dependent on God for our very breath
* And we are certainly dependent on God for our salvation
* But we also depend on God for power to live the Christian life as God intends as we relate to God as our loving heavenly Father.
This is why prayer should come so naturally to us in the Christian life.
In prayer we commune with our heavenly Father.
Some have discovered this such as the hymn writer James Montgomery who wrote:
Prayer is the soul’s sincere desire,
unuttered or expressed;
the motion of a hidden fire
that trembles in the breast.
Prayer is the Christian’s vital breath,
the Christian’s native air,
On the cover of Richard Foster’s book on the subject of prayer are the words:
’ Prayer -- Finding the heart’s true home’
Prayer, for the Christian, should be as natural as breathing.
* So why is it that prayer for most of us feels so difficult?
* Why is it that we feel such a failure when it comes to prayer?
When we read the Gospels we see just how naturally prayer was a part of the life of Jesus. He expressed dependency upon the Father. He also taught the disciples to pray in the words of the Lord’s prayer.
It distresses me when I consider just how much and how often we feel as though we failures at prayer -- As though prayer is some kind of performance that even God judges -- something we feel we never get right. And we lack confidence so much in our ability to pray that we are sometimes tempted to give up altogether. This need not be!
THE TITLE of my sermon is: ’Praying without a sense of failure’.
READING COLOSSIANS 4:2-18
Key text: ’Devote yourselves to prayer’
THESIS: The secret of being devoted to prayer is to be devoted first to God.
When we are first devoted to God then prayer can be as natural as breathing and conversation.
The first thing to consider if we are to be free from feeling a sense of failure in prayer is that there is no one-size-fits-all way of praying.
We have different personality types and not every method of praying will work well for us.
(Harry and May Gray are going to be unpacking this in detail at one of our mid-week meetings on prayer at some time in the future)
But in brief for now, our ways of being are different. Some of us are more intuitive than others who are thinkers. Some of us are more perceptive whilst others weigh things in their thoughts.
So it should not surprise us that when it comes to prayer some of us are more reflective and others more applied.
I am sure that Martha, the sister of Lazarus, had a prayer life as well as Mary. But they were very different as sisters. Martha was practical and applied. Mary was intuitive and reflective. And just as Martha and Mary could learn something from each other, we too can learn from each other.