THE MAIN POINT
Prayer starts by showing up, and is most effective through listening.
Matthew 7:24, Matthew 6:6-13, Proverbs 2:2-3
Knowing we can simply show up for prayer is important, but knowing how to pray is game-changing. Prayer is simply making the effort to become consciously present to the God who is constantly present to us. And God speaks. But do we listen? Jesus says, “Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock.” Therefore before we unload our “prayer list” to God, prayer begins by listening.
LISTENING for many of us can be a challenge. One study showed that in a typical day of our waking hours, we spend about 9% writing, 16% reading, 30% speaking, and 45% listening. You may think you already do enough listening but how many of us actually take the time to listen without distractions? Listening requires full attention. Theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer once said, “A child learns to speak through listening to their father speaking.” This means that we learn how to pray (and how to live) by listening to God. As we listen we learn how to speak.
Jesus gives us a model of how to speak. In Matthew 6, after encouraging his listeners to find a thin place to be present to God, he gives some words that we can speak.
“Our Father in heaven, your name be HONOURED as holy. Your kingdom come. Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.”
“Our Father,” tells us that by Jesus’ death and resurrection, he has brought us into the family of God and we are sons and daughters. “Holy” means to be set apart for a special purpose. It is a petition to keep God’s name holy. God is our Holy Father but he has also set us apart for a special purpose. So when we pray we should come with reverence but also like a child excited to see their parent.
“Give us today our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.”
“Give us,” sounds like we may be requesting or asking. But in reality, we are. Because God is the leader we are not in charge of our lives and the days we have so we ask God to supply us with another day but also his refueling, His love, His grace, His patience and so much more so that we can walk our life daily in the representation of Christ and who He is.
“Forgive us,” reminds us to give ourselves again to God, seeking forgiveness of sin and restoration from the Holy Spirit. This can be as simple as God I did wrong yesterday, clean my heart and mind so that is renewed in you. Jesus is also telling us that as we ask for forgiveness we must also forgive.
“And do not bring us into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.”
Jesus commands us to use prayer on the offense, to fight temptation, and fight Satan. We must pray that God would guard our hearts and minds against all that could tempt us in the world we live in. Trusting that His protection will cover us daily and that we would be delivered from any evil or sin that traps us.
As you prepare the core of the message using personal story and questions keep in mind these points:
- Begin with listening.
- Know that through Jesus, we are sons and daughters of God our Father.
- Remember who God is and what He has done for you, thank Him.
- Trust in knowing that God cares we can ask for our needs.
- Seek forgiveness, and forgive others.
- Declare protection in Christ from all evil that may come your way.
As you prepare the application, challenge and/or encouragement, keep in mind these points:
- Show up to your thin place and try praying The Lord’s Prayer. Set a reminder on your phone and have a friend you can be accountable to.
- Listening can look like sitting in silence, reading scripture, or even listening to worship music. Try this, this week.