We have been looking at prayer and what it means to live a life of prayer at Youth Am. If you are unaware of what Youth AM is; well ask one of our youth who participate. We have been wrestling with the concept of praying continually, making prayer a habit and beings generally interested in developing a stronger prayer life. But there are a few questions that bug me as we have developed this study and have begun to discuss and share with one another. First of all, does prayer really matter? Does it work?Are our prayers really heard by the all powerful God? If you can answer yes to these questions, great; but for us who are struggling to find answers or what we really believe we need to continue to ask and to seek.
Matthew 7:7-8 says, "Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened."
I don't think that Jesus was saying that every wish is His command. I think He was asking us for open and honest conversations with Him. Jesus is longing for us to engage Him in relationship; not just typical Sunday rituals, but rather life transforming encounters with the creator. Jesus is asking for us to pray, to seek and to take a proactive part in our communication and relationship with Him.
For me prayer often is something we just do. I say my words, sometimes repetitive and then Amen and hang up on God. I don't take the time to be still and listen for a response. To seek the heart of God and what He may be sharing with me in response. Why is that? Do I not believe that He will answer? Am I too selfish and inward focused?
Well I am not going to give up. There are certainly better days than others. But I am not going to stop praying, I am going to continue to struggle and build a better prayer life. To make a habit of being continuous about prayer. 1 Thessalonians 5:17 "pray continually". And then take the time to listen and allow God to speak back. To believe that He cares and wants to speak to me. I may not always like the answer, but I am going to engage!
John Wesley offers us much insight to the Christian practice of prayer. He wrote, "All who desire the grace of God are to wait for it, first, in the way of prayer." I don't know about you but often I grow impatient and want instant answers and action. But this isn't how God works. If you look over scripture you see that through the generations God worked in His timing and His timing alone. Many grew impatient. But it was the patient the steadfast that were rewarded and encouraged. Wesley also stated, "the most useful of all pastimes." When I think of pastimes this time of year I think of sports; particularly football. We certainly don't equate prayer with pastimes, but we also don't live lives as reckeless and with as much enthusiasm as John Wesley did. I wonder why not?
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