The Praying Church: What If...
- Sunday, January 08, 2012
Prayer may be as varied as the needs of the heart.
There are myriad ways to pray. If we pray from the heart in Jesus’ name, then the Father is pleased and he inclines his heart to hear us when we call on him.
II. The best time to prayer is when you feel the need to pray.
That’s simple, isn’t it? Paul instructs us to pray “on all occasions.” The Greek word is kairos, which means a particular moment when we feel our need for God. It speaks of coming to a crossroads, a time of need, a sense of our own weakness, and crying out to the Lord in prayer.
Sometimes we approach prayer superstitiously, as if we should only pray about “big things.” We don’t want to bother God with the “small stuff.” How foolish we are. He’s God! It’s all “small stuff” to him. Or perhaps we should say it another way, because he cares so much for us, even our “small stuff” matters to him. I think of our own three sons who are now grown. Last Sunday was Mother’s Day. It happened that none of our boys live nearby so we didn’t see any of them. But on Monday I heard Marlene remark that Mother’s Day had been a good day because we heard from all our family. Josh and Leah and Mark and Vanessa called from Dallas. Nick called from Birmingham. I’m sitting here smiling as I write this because we got to talk to our family on Sunday. Nothing could be better than that. No gift could be better than hearing from them. But if we are so glad to hear from our children, how much more is our Heavenly Father glad to hear from us. When our kids are in trouble and need our help, we want them to call and let us know. It’s the same with the Lord. He waits to hear from his children. And because we are his children, he will never turn us away.
The Lord waits to hear from his children. And because we are his children, he will never turn us away.
Many years ago when Marlene taught the little children in Sunday School, the lesson was about the truth that “God is always with us.” So she had the children draw a picture to illustrate that truth. One child drew a picture of a boy in bed, raindrops over the bed, and outside the window a sinister-looking creature. “Where is God with you?” Marlene asked. “He’s with me,” the boy replied, “when I’m in bed, in the dark, and it’s raining inside, and there’s a monster outside."
We’ve all had a few moments like that, when it’s raining inside and there’s a monster outside. The little boy is right. God is with us even then so go ahead and pray. God is near us when we need him most.
III. Effective prayer requires sensitivity to the Holy Spirit.
Paul says we are to pray “in the Spirit.” That means “under the influence of the Holy Spirit.” It helps me to think about it this way. Praying in the Spirit means following the Spirit’s guidance as to when to pray. Because prayer itself is the language of heaven, the impulse to pray comes from the Holy Spirit. He not only invites us to pray, he also incites us to pray. Sometimes you will think, “I should pray about that.” Don’t ever brush that thought away. Do it. Go ahead and pray right then. Sometimes people may say, “I wish we could pray about that.” Take that as a message from the Holy Spirit and go ahead and pray. These impulses to pray may come at any time . . .
When we are on the phone . . .
When we are talking with a friend . . .
When we are listening to the radio . . .
When we are sitting in church . . .
When we are taking a deposition . . .
When we are having a sleepless night . . .
When we are getting ready for surgery . . .
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