I had the privilege of attending an “Ash Wednesday” service at my church last night. It was a small and intimate gathering of about 20 individuals. We sang, listened to scripture and statement of purpose for the service. We meditated upon “What Really Matters” and prayer over the ashes before the act of imposition of the ashes. We ended the service with a responsive reading, “Act of Penitence and Reconciliation” followed by a hymn and prayer. It was a beautiful experience and a wonderful way to begin the Lenten season. I am looking forward to sharing the journey with you. Lent provides opportunities to reconnect with God, time for us to reconcile with God, we are encouraged to spend time with God in prayer, meditating on His Word and strengthening our commitment to God.
The scripture verse for today is Matthew 6:6a, “But whenever you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you.”
The focus for today and throughout this Lenten season is prayer. Prayer is essential and is the primary practice of life in and with God. Prayer is our connection to God, our way of communicating with and to God. Prayer is both an intimacy with God and a communal action with others to God.
Matthew 6:5-15, Jesus gives us instructions concerning prayer. He tells is how to pray and where to pray, Jesus also provides a prayer as an example for us.
“And whenever you pray, do not be like the hypocrites; for they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, so that they may be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward. But whenever you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you. “When you are praying, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do; for they think that they will be heard because of their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him. “Pray then in this way: Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come. Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And do not bring us to the time of trial, but rescue us from the evil one. For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you; but if you do not forgive others, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.”
Many people are weary of praying because they feel as if they don’t know what to say or how to say things correctly and properly, prayers are the concerns of your heart. Your prayers can be verbal, they can we written down and they can be your thoughts. Prayer is having a conversation with God, your creator, my creator. God wants to listen to you, He wants to share in your joys and your struggles. Nothing is too big or too small to take to God. I struggle with prayer, praying I used to think was an act of kneeling with folded hands and elaborate words, while there is absolutely nothing wrong in praying in that manner it didn’t always work for me. I now approach prayer, as a conversation with God that I can do at anytime or anyplace. I practice breath prayers several times a day, I pray while driving, I pray when I’m nervous or scared. I pray for others when I know they are nervous and scared. Prayer though very sacred can also be very flexible in place and delivery. Don’t merely schedule time for prayers, be open to the Spirits call and practice an “open door/open heart” policy with God. Be advantage of God’s 24/7/365 walk-in policy!
The writer of the devotional I am using suggests that we remind ourselves to take at least 5 minutes of our day to pray and connect with God. He also reminds us that God is not a magician or a Genie passing out magic and wishes, prayer is about relationship with God, connecting with God.
Breath Prayer: Speak, O Lord…I am listening.