5 “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 others. Truly I tell you, 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.
“… your Father knows what you need before you ask Him.” Sometimes I think, “Then why do I need to pray? God knows what I need.” And I think it’s because He wants a relationship with me. Not just “Give me God!” relationship, but one like we have with our earthly fathers. Yes, I know there are a lot of messed up relationships with fathers, but I mean the way God intended it. A father that loves, listens, gives advice and disciplines and who provides. Not my every want, but my needs and often enough He provides the wants.
Today is one of those days where I feel like I need to crawl up into my Father’s lap and just get a hug!
The scripture is chosen from http://www.swtblessings.com/ Prayer Writing Plan.
43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor[a] and hate your enemy.’44 But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,45 that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.
Back in the Sermon on the Mount, this time from Matthews account.
Jesus reminded those listeners as He reminds us, go against the norm. Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you. As we all know the sun rises for all of us, whether we are evil or good.
It’s so hard to love those enemies that get under our skin. I can think of a situation where I would much rather thump the persons than pray for them. But the passages following this one reminds us there is no reward in loving those who love you, but we are to be perfect as our heavenly Father is perfect. A tall order to say the least, but thankfully, Jesus didn’t leave us empty handed, we have the Holy Spirit to help us.
24 Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.25 And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive them, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins.”
The context here is Jesus had cursed the fig tree the day before and the disciples were amazed that it had withered. Which is a little interesting to see they were amazed by that when they had seen Jesus walk on water, heal the sick, and raise the dead. But I digress…
For me, verse 25 is the key thought, “if I hold anything against anyone, forgive them…” That comes with a promise, that my Father in heaven may forgive me. Coming to God without grudges and/or bitterness is important. Grateful for the reminder!
12 “I tell you the truth, anyone who believes in me will do the same works I have done, and even greater works, because I am going to be with the Father.13 You can ask for anything in my name, and I will do it so that the Son can bring glory to the Father.14 Yes, ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it!
This is a great promise. HOWEVER, we have to take it in context of this chapter as well as the entire New Testament. Chapter 14 is part of Jesus’ final words to his disciples before his crucifixion. There are words of instruction and comfort here, and it is in this chapter Jesus promises the Holy Spirit.
We can go to the Father and we can ask anything in the name of Jesus. But keep in mind, will the answered prayer bring glory to the Father.
12 Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you.13 You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.
3 ‘Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know.’
This is part of the message from God to the Exiles. Verse 11 is a very well known passage: “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future…
Verse 12 reminds us to call on God, to go to Him and pray to Him. He promises to listen and to be found when we seek Him. He also promises us that He will answer with great and unsearchable things.
1What is causing the quarrels and fights among you? Don’t they come from the evil desires at war within you?2 You want what you don’t have, so you scheme and kill to get it. You are jealous of what others have, but you can’t get it, so you fight and wage war to take it away from them. Yet you don’t have what you want because you don’t ask God for it.3 And even when you ask, you don’t get it because your motives are all wrong—you want only what will give you pleasure.
All about motives, so very true. This passage is kinda intense but it is a good reminder that when I go to God in prayer it needs to be with the right motives. There are passages about God giving us the desires of our heart (Psalm 37:4), but I think James brings the balance here. It’s not about jealousy and wanting things. Even the passage I referenced begins with “Delight yourself in the Lord.” God takes care of us, without a doubt, but again, He’s not a genie in the bottle.
Paul reminds us once again to devote ourselves to prayer but adds be watchful and thankful. So far the first time watchful has come up but the idea of pray and thankfulness isn’t new.
Just a great reminder that it’s not all about “give me God” like He’s the eternal sugar daddy or genie. But we need to go to Him with thankfulness. Because in the worst of situations there’s always something to be thankful for.
Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful.3 And pray for us, too, that God may open a door for our message, so that we may proclaim the mystery of Christ, for which I am in chains.4 Pray that I may proclaim it clearly, as I should.
Ouch! is the first thing I said when I read this passage. Pray for ALL people?!?! Really God? I’m to ask God to help them? And Give THANKS for them? There are so horrible people in this world.
But, that’s what God’s word says. So, I guess it’s something I need to be doing. (And thinking back to yesterday’s passage about praying continually… this would help)
But Paul goes on and tells us to pray the same way for Kings and all who are in authority. Actually, this is a passage that I’ve believed a long time, but haven’t practiced it nearly enough. But verse 2 comes with a “So that.” So that we can live peaceful and quiet lives marked by godliness and dignity. You just have to watch the news for 5 minutes to know that isn’t happening. Question is why? We might have an answer.
Verses 3 and go on to say: This is good and pleases God our Savior,4 who wants everyone to be saved and to understand the truth.
Back to verses 1 and 2 – Pray, for everyone, even the President and Congress and the state and city leaders and the boss.
The passage has more, but I think right now I need to digest this portion. Let it soak into my heart and soul and practice it.
1 Thessalonians 5:16-18New International Version (NIV)
16 Rejoice always, 17 pray continually, 18 give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.
For my daily devotion, I use Sweet Blessings Scripture Writing Text. It’s great! She provides a passage of scripture that you write out and you can meditate on it, write out your thoughts, etc. This year she has been creating theme-based options for each month.
This month the topic is prayer. Something I need to do more of. As I read yesterday’s passage, the one above, I had to smile. How often had I heard (and said, even to myself) “What is God’s will for my life?” This passage gives us a good start on what it is.
Rejoice always – not just when I feel like it. ALWAYS.
Pray continually – If I’m praying I can’t be complaining!
Give Thanks in ALL circumstance – hmmm… not just for the good things in life but the bad ones as well.
Maybe not the answer to all life’s questions, but a great place to start.