Monday, November 27, 2023
Listen to your prayers and what you share with God. Listen to others when they pray. What do you hear? What are the major themes in our prayers? What do we spend most of our time doing in our prayers?
I need to evaluate my prayer life occasionally, or I can easily slip from honoring God as the great I AM, YHWH, King of Glory.  If I don't pay attention to the content of my prayers, I can forget God is my Abba Father tenderly wanting to hear from my heart.  I can quit drawing near to experience God's presence and fall into a rut of things on my prayer list to request. I can find myself approaching God as a heavenly Santa Claus, giving Him my latest list of things I want to have done and blessings I want to receive. Certainly, God yearns for us to come to Him with the burdens of our hearts, needs in our lives, and concerns for others.  However, if our prayers turn into little more than "God, please gimmie..." or "Father, please fix..." or "Lord I need..." then we have a problem.
God wants us to come to Him in every situation, knowing that the Holy Spirit intercedes for us, making our prayers acceptable to God and aligned with His will.  We don't need to stress over saying the exactly perfect things when we pray. However, our prayer life should be balanced and focused on God and His goodness while lifting the needs of those around us to the Lord in prayer. We must always pray with thanksgiving — we need to remember all that God has done, and is doing, for us.  The psalms remind us that we can go to God out of every orbit and tangent of life — "pray about everything" as Paul said here. The psalmists provide us with a wide variety of prayers, many different names for God to use as we approach Him, and several physical postures to appropriately accompany our prayers. So, the 150 psalms in our Bible can be a great resource for words and examples of how to pray.
We don't want to settle only for prayer as our to-do list for God. We want to draw near Him and experience His gracious presence as He shares His peace with us.  We want God to know how much we reverence Him, thank Him for Who He is, and praise Him for what He has done — not just for us, but throughout history.  And, as Paul reminded us today, we want to rejoice in the Lord. We want to celebrate knowing God, receiving salvation from God, recognizing that God claims us as His child, anticipating being with God forever, doing God's work, and experiencing God's peace. When we catch ourselves worrying, we can reach out to God and share everything with Him. When we face hard times — as the Philippians were when Paul sent this letter — we can cast off our worries and fears, turn our hearts toward joy, and invite God to bring His peace into our hearts and minds. We can rejoice even in the hardest of times because the peace of God is guarding our hearts and minds with God's grace, goodness, and might! And because of all of these gifts that are ours in prayer, we can rejoice!
Almighty God, You made the heavens, planets, and stars. You created me and put me together in my mother's womb. You saw human rebellion and sin in our lives and sent Christ to save us. Thank you, dear Father. As I draw near to You, please draw near to me and guard my heart and my mind. I close this prayer with Paul's prayer for Christians in Rome, and I trust you will make this real in us as we pray in Jesus' name:
I pray that God, the source of hope, will fill [us] completely with joy and peace because [we] trust in him. Then [we] will overflow with confident hope through the power of the Holy Spirit. *
Together in Christ is a daily devotional that focuses on what Scripture teaches about godly living in relationships.
'Together in Christ' is written by Phil Ware.
Scripture quotations are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright ©1996, 2004, 2007, 2013, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.
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