Another Look at Prayer — Morning Devotions - Hope 103.2

Another Look at Prayer — Morning Devotions

For many people, God isn't a part of their life. Many find him distant, and they only approach him as a means to an end. But is there more to it?

By Chris WittsSunday 6 Nov 2022Morning Devotions with Chris WittsFaithReading Time: 1 minute

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I’ve been reading some interesting facts about young adults in the United States, and their personal belief in God. While it’s not Australian facts, I have a feeling it’s not all that different to what would be revealed in our own country, and our own culture.

In 2005, Christian Smith wrote a paper called, Soul Searching: The Religious & Spiritual Lives of American Teenagers. I was fascinated by his finding after talking to many teens.

Some of the highlights included;

  • They do believe in God but believe He is not involved in their everyday lives
  • 40% of these teens prayed every day or more, while 15% said they have never prayed

When probed a bit more about prayer they said this,

“If I ever have a problem I go pray. It helps me deal with problems because I have a temper. And it calms me down for the most part”
“Praying just makes me feel more secure like there’s something out there helping me out”.

It has to be said the survey shows that God is distant, remote, not involved in daily life. His job is to solve problems and make people feel good.

That was quite obvious in Christian Smith’s paper. Teenagers pray for help with their problems, or to feel better and happier. God has become a means to the end of a happy life for themselves. I’m not criticising these young people, far from it. I encourage anyone to start praying. But it is a shame they have not gone on a step further to see how God can be part of every day.

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In St Peters square one day Pope Francis said, “Prayer is not a magic wand that fulfils your desires, but it is what helps you keep the faith when you don’t understand God’s will. Prayer is meant to be “our daily bread, our powerful weapon and the staff for our journey”.

That type of comment is designed to make you think deeper about the value of prayer.

What Prayer Is Not

  • Prayer is not magic. We can’t summon God as though He were a genie, waiting to grant our wishes without regard for our circumstances or the consequences
  • Prayer doesn’t make demands. While we can make requests of God in prayer, we dare not make demands. God is the Creator of the universe and does not take orders from us
  • Prayer is for our benefit, not God’s. We need a relationship with God, available to us through Jesus Christ and engaged primarily in prayer because we were made to function best when we are in a proper relationship with our Creator
  • Prayer is not a guarantee against suffering. Jesus said in the Bible “In this world you will have trouble” (John 16:33)

The Apostle Peter explained it like this in his epistle, “Prayer is not an opportunity for us to show off. 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 men” (Matthew 6:5).

As C. S. Lewis once said, “I don’t pray to change God’s mind, I pray to change my mind.” Prayer is not magic or automatic. Rather prayer changes us, and perhaps prayer opens us to be changed, so that God chooses to work through our prayers. God wants us to pray so that he can give his gifts in answer to our requests.

Prayer As A Conversation

Prayer is a conversation you have with the Father. He’s more than willing to do what you need Him to; He expects you to talk to Him about it, not demand, rant, plead or recite. How rude it would be to have someone pull out a sheet of paper and make an official request to borrow your pen and never look you in the eye. God loves you and wants to talk with you because that’s His divine nature.

Prayer is just talking to God. It’s communicating to Him from your heart. Yes, it’s possible to read prayers, but they only count as prayers when it means something to you. It has to be genuine. I know some people find written prayers helpful. But try using your own words sometimes, as if talking to a friend. He’s the Person who loves you more than anyone else, like He’s your best friend. He’s the One who takes care of you and blesses you beyond understanding. Have a conversation with Him. Tell Him what matters. Cry out. Tell Him your dreams, your needs, your fears. Then listen.

A conversation goes both ways. It’s not really a conversation if you do all the talking. Listen with your heart. Will it sound a lot like you talking back? Yes, because that’s the way you were wired to hear Him. You can talk to God all day long. And you should. There’s a lot to talk about. A lot of people wonder how to talk to God. They’ve been led to believe that He is distant and talking to Him requires a mystic incantation or special prayers. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Jesus says,

Behold, I’m standing at the door, knocking. If your heart is open to hear my voice and you open the door within, I will come in to you and feast with you, and you will feast with me. (Rev 3:20)

You may be asking how to talk to God, but God is asking to talk to you. You don’t have to wonder if God wants to talk to you, He said He’s knocking at your heart right now.

All you have to do is tell Him, Jesus please come into my heart. Confess your sins to Him. He will blot them out as if they never happened. Now you can have conversations with Him any time you want. You can talk to him silently or out loud.

Listen with your heart, and you’ll hear Him. Read the Bible and you’ll hear Him. Starting a conversation with God will be the best thing you ever did. Talk to Him about everything–work, marriage, kids, friends, hopes, dreams, everything. He will help you in every aspect of your life if you learn to trust Him.