Wednesday, January 05, 2005

Reason to Pray

Recently some friends were over for dinner. When it came time to bless our meal I was startled that she did not know how. We made it through because “how” is the easy part. That made me start to think it might be smart to re-think through the “why” on prayer.

1. Jesus did it.

Jesus “came from heaven to earth to show the way” not only to the life hereafter but also the way we should live while still on earth. Jesus repeatedly prayed throughout the gospels when he was blessing things, healing things, bringing forth things (such as John 14: 16) and when Jesus was alone in the garden. Because “Jesus did it” is the first reason we have to pray ourselves.

It is sometimes confusing to Bible readers as to why Jesus would need to pray to the Father when we understand the doctrine of the trinity teaching Jesus and the Father as one; we cannot understand the communicative relationship between the godheads but we can accept Jesus’ actions as (at least) instructional.

2. Jesus taught it.

In Matthew 6, Jesus tells us “In this manner, therefore, pray: Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name…” and continues with the Lord’s Prayer. Jesus would not teach us to do something that he also did not expect us to do. Because “Jesus taught it” is the second reason we have to pray ourselves.

3. Communication

Here are the ingredients that do not make up prayer: speaking, chanting, singing, standing, kneeling, laying down, clasping hands, holding hands, raising hands, closed eyes, opened eyes, crying eyes, bowed head, poetry, special clothes, or anything else. Although they show up when people pray, they are not a required part. Prayer is simply communication – and not necessarily words. “Communication,” then is the third reason we pray ourselves.

Another part of communication is the opportunity to take the time to listen.

4. Confession

1 John 1 tells us to confess: “8. If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. 9. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 10. If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His word is not in us.” To whom do we confess? God. How do we communicate our confession? Prayer. Because we must “confess” is the forth reason we pray ourselves.

Sometimes people ask if they must continue to confess their sins. The act of salvation is a “global” confession of all sins and sanctifies us completely for all transgressions whenever they are committed. Further confession, therefore, is not in attempt to gain forgiveness – as that is already fulfilled through initial salvation – but as an act of repentance that omits our guilt and commits our lives to seek holiness from that point forward.

5. It makes things happen

In Matthew 21: 22 Jesus says, “And all things, whatever you ask in prayer, believing, you will receive.” He never promises everything we want, but in accordance with his divine Will we can act as vessels of his fulfillment. Miracles, healings, and peace can all be the fruits of intercession. Because “it makes things happen” is the fifth and final reason we pray ourselves.

I am satisfied with the exhaustiveness of this list. We pray for a reason. Not only ought we but we also should. The Bible makes it clear and Jesus’ lifestyle models it.

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