11 AUGUST 2017

OUR FATHER WHICH ART IN HEAVEN

 
What do you think about prayer? Are you uncomfortable if asked to say a prayer at church or Bible Study? How about away from church? Are you embarrassed to be noticed in the lunchroom or in a restaurant, bowing your head and muttering a quick word of gratitude? What is it about prayer that makes us uncomfortable? Is it the fact that, in today’s society, it has become less common to see bowed heads around a dinner table than it once was? Ever since the ruling requiring removal of prayer from public schools in 1962 (Engels vs. Vitale, the Supreme Court) and the subsequent implementation of the ban in 1963, outward practice of religion has become anathema to American society, indeed to most societies in the western world. Those events may have contributed to the decline in faith and/or religious practices; however, I am inclined to think of those as symptoms, not the disease itself! It seems every major civilization has passed through similar challenges.

 

For instance, by the time Jesus came to earth, the Israelites were at the very lowest, being ruled by Romans and by their spiritual leaders, both scribes and Pharisees, who placed untenable rules on them regarding religious practices. After being confronted by the Pharisees because they felt His followers didn’t fast and pray enough, Jesus chastised the Pharisees for the way they practiced their religion! Then Jesus’ disciples asked Him to teach them how to pray for themselves. He told His disciples, “And when thou prayest, thou shalt not be as the hypocrites are: for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward. But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly.” (Matthew 6:5 & 6 KJV). But He didn’t leave it there; He gave them a prayer template, often called the Lord’s Prayer, as a guide for how to address their prayers, how to organize their thoughts, and what components to include in the prayer.

 

People today are like the Israelites with the blame game, although they seem to forget from where their blessings come! Prayer is our opportunity to reach up to the Most High, and make our desires known, tell Him thanks for all He has done for us, and the chance to talk to the Ruler of the Universe just as we would a friend! “Believing prayer will save the sick man; the Lord will restore him and any sins that he has committed will be forgiven. You should get into the habit of admitting your sins to each other, and praying for each other, so that if sickness comes to you, you may be healed. Tremendous power is made available through a good man’s earnest prayer.” (James 5:15-16 PHILLIPS). In the Army there is a saying, “there are no Atheists in the trenches” because when one’s life is in danger, the first thing out of their mouth is, “Oh, God!” God reads the hearts of people who call out to Him in their hour of need, but He also wants us to take time to just talk with Him. The church leaders of Jesus’ day made practicing their faith so difficult that many left prayer to the priests; in some denominations, today, there’s still a sense that the common “pew warmer” should not pray in church, leaving that to the leaders, pastor, or priests. But we are to talk to the Almighty and, however, you choose to talk to the Lord, whether in your heart, aloud in a group, in memorized words or in song, just be sure that He knows your innermost thoughts. He hears even the unspoken requests that are sometimes too difficult to put into words. Just talk to Him today.

 

My heart song for today shares the words Jesus gave when He taught His disciples to pray:

 

“Our Father which art in heaven,
Hallowed be Thy name,
Thy kingdom come,
Thy will be done,
In earth, as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.

 

Forgive us our trespasses
As we forgive them who trespass against us.
And lead us not into temptation,
But deliver us from evil.
For Thine is the kingdom, the power and the glory
For ever and ever. Amen, Amen.”

 

“Watch and pray, all of you, that you may not have to face temptation. Your spirit is willing, but human nature is weak.” (Matthew 26:41 PHILLIPS). Have a blessed day!