We Are a Prayer Centered People
Pastor’s Monthly Newsletter Article for December, 2012
Part 6; of a 7-Month Series on the Core Commitments of Saint Peter Lutheran Church
It was an interesting conversation in our High School Sunday School class on Nov. 11th. (I am one of their teachers this year – if your daughter or son hasn’t tried it out yet, make sure they do soon. We’re having some great conversations!) The topic at hand was: “Why should I pray when God doesn’t answer all my prayers?”
During the class I invited our High School youth to choose a partner and go for a walk. As they walked, they were to talk with each other. When they returned we found that they spoke of common interests, asked about each other’s lives, and talked about current events. Interestingly enough, none of them asked the other to do something for them.
First Thessalonians 5:17 reads: “Pray without ceasing.” It leads to the notion that prayer ought to be a continual conversation with God. Yet very few of us have experienced prayer as a conversation. Nearly all of us have experienced prayer as a laundry list of what is wrong with the world, and a series of recommendations about what God should do about it. No wonder the first question many ask about prayer is, “Why didn’t God answer?”
The Apostle Paul knew better. He understood prayer as a continual conversation with God – lifting up joys, sorrows, experiences, insights, concerns, questions… not with the sole purpose of getting God to do something, but with the desire to entrust all of life to God’s enduring grace. As Paul prayed continually to God he became aware of two realities: how intimately God knew him, and how deeply God was involved in every moment of his life – every moment! Paul never seemed to wonder why God didn’t answer all his prayers, because all of his prayers weren’t requests for God to get busy with something. His prayers were a step into the sacred presence of God; an attempt to deepen a key relationship in life.
The older I get, the less inclined I am to imagine that what God really needs is for me to explain situations, and recommend action. And the more inclined I am to share with God what is in my heart, remembering that God knows me, and wants to be involved in every moment of my life.
To wit, “God, I am so concerned about this one I love. I have failed this week to be the best husband and father that I can be. My heart aches for people whose lives are impacted by hunger, starvation and violence. I am so thankful for your love and forgiveness. My heart is still stirred by yesterday’s sunset…”
And to regress, “God, help me to pray more like this!”
God’s peace to you all, Pastor Dave
The theme for the final month is: “Our Lives Revolve around Discipleship”