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Paul Schmehl @PaulSchmehl
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It’s Saturday evening. Time to talk about prayer. There are many kinds of prayer, but I don’t think people really understand how to pray. Jesus gave us an example in the Lord’s prayer, but few seem to have noticed, he said, “This is HOW you should pray”, not WHAT you should pray.
Yet in churches and fellowships worldwide, this prayer is spoken over and over again. It’s as if no one ever read the words that precede the prayer. I remember a prayer from my youth. We prayed it every night when going to bed. “Now I lay me down to sleep, I pray the Lord my soul
to keep. If I should die before I wake, I pray the Lord my soul to take.” What kind of prayer is that to teach a child? If I should die before I wake? Really? I think God winces every time he hears that prayer. He longs, more than anything else, to have a personal relationship
with his children. How can he do that when you simply recite memorized prayers that have little meaning for you at the time? Mind you, there’s nothing wrong with the Lord’s prayer. It’s just that your relationship with God should progress past that point.
I’m going to tell you a couple of memorable prayers that I’ve prayed. The first one, I was on a motorcycle, going 55 mph, when an old man in a pickup truck pulled out of a side street in front of me, then stopped when he saw traffic coming the other way. You know what I did?
I squeezed the handlebars, closed my eyes and screamed, “God, help me!” After I got my wits about me, I noticed that the truck’s tailgate was down. I didn’t think much of it, until later that day I noticed my pants were slightly torn right above the knee.
God not only answered my desperate prayer, he kept my leg from being amputated. That is the power of prayer. Another. I was filled with anxiety. I was unemployed, and I didn’t know what to do. I had been doing everything that I knew how to do go to find a job. Nothing was working
So, one day, I was at a fellowship, and I went off to a separate room to pray. I told God that I was so filled with anxiety that I could no longer think straight. I said, “God, you have to tell me what to do. And you have to tell me in a way that I will know beyond a shadow
of a doubt that it’s YOU telling me. You have to get past my jumbled mind and speak directly to my heart so that it’s unmistakable. As I finished praying, a young man walked into the room. He asked me if I minded that he smoked. I was perturbed, but I kept quiet.
After he lit his cigarette, he began talking. He told me a story about a time when he was filled with anxiety about a decision he had to make. He didn’t know what to do. So, he prayed. And God showed him exactly what to do. As he spoke, I realized that God was talking directly
to me through him. I don’t know if he knew that, and it really doesn’t matter if he did or not. But I knew it. And in that moment, peace filled my heart. I knew I would find a job soon and everything would be fine. God answered my prayer the moment I stopped praying.
You see, God is with you everywhere. Every moment of every day. He’s waiting patiently for you to ask for his help. He WANTS you to ask him for help. And help he will. Now, let’s look at the Lord’s Prayer. What was Jesus trying to teach us?
First, he acknowledges that God is his father, that his desire is for God’s will to be done. Then he asks God for his sustenance and to forgive him for his shortcomings. (Note that Jesus could not pray this himself, since he had no shortcomings. The point is, he’s teaching his
disciples how to pray, not telling them how he prays.) He asks God to keep temptation away and deliver him from evil. Then he closes out by praising God. These are all things we should be praying about every day. Keep me safe. Help me not hurt others or stray from you. Feed me.
And most importantly, thank you. Thank you for who you are, for what you’ve done for me, for what you will do for me, and for helping me to always be my best for you. Help me to be an example of what you can do. The Lord’s Prayer is not a bad prayer, but it’s useless if your
heart isn’t in it. Just like any other prayer would be. When I prayed Now I lay me down to sleep, I was doing it because it was expected. Not because I wanted God to help me sleep or keep me safe. What’s the point of praying if you don’t really mean it? Prayer is your way of
talking to God. Do you talk to your family with rote memorized scripts? So, why talk to God that way? Make it personal. Make it live for you. Make it relevant. What’s on your mind today? If you’re struggling in your marriage, ask God for help. You would be amazed what he can do.
When I got married, I took my wife more than 2,000 miles from home. She was alone, with no one to talk to except me. I would come home from work and ask, “How much longer is it going to be before dinner?” She would answer me, but she never seemed happy about it. So, I asked God,
“God, why is she so angry?” God said, “Because you’re insulting her.” As I thought about that, I thought, All i’m trying to do is find out if I need to wash up and get ready to eat or if I have time to do something else.. God said, “So, why don’t you ask her that?” I thought
about that all night, and the next day at work. When I got home from work, I was ready. I said, “How much time do I have before supper?” She turned, and smiled at me and said, “About ten minutes.” So, I washed up and got ready for supper. As we sat down to eat, she said, Thank
you for asking that that way. You blessed me.” You see, you may not know how to please our spouse, but God does. So, why not ask him? Do you really want to figure out life on your own, when you have the greatest resource in the world right beside you? And it’s not just marriage.
God can help you with anything in life. He created the world. Do you really think your problems are too big for him? Really? We humans spend far too much time, filled with pride, trying to resolve our own problems, while God sits by idly twiddling his thumbs, wondering when we
will wake up. It has to be both amusing and frustrating for him. (I wonder. Does God ever get frustrated? I kind of doubt it.) So, when you pray, ask for what you need, and expect God to answer. Because he does. And since he always wants the best for you, expect that too.
Because God is in the business of answering prayer.
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