As I sit down to write this month’s Pastor’s Corner, I am drawn back to an article I read about prayer and the power that it has in our lives. We have all been taught from a very young age that we need to talk to God and ask for anything. God can handle it and he answers all our prayers.
Some prayers, He gives us what we ask for and other one he does not.
Well prayer is much bigger than that. As long as humans have endured the cares of this world, they have been praying. Anthropologists say prayer is one of the earliest recorded behaviors of human beings. “As far back as we have writing to describe human behavior, where there is religion, there is prayer.”
America is a praying country, and the older we get, the more we pray: An impressive 48 percent of Americans ages 18-29 pray every day. The Pew Research Center reports, The 50-59 age group the number grows to 61 percent and the 70 plus crowd is downright pious, with 70 percent checking in on a daily basis. Among faith groups, 86 percent of Protestants say they pray every week. Followed by 82 percent of Muslims, 79 percent of Catholics, and 44 percent of Jews. Of those who are unaffiliated with any religion, 65 percent pray weekly.
Is anyone listening? We seem to think so; the numbers are consistent across generations, among people 50 or older who pray, one quarter report having received a specific answer to prayer in the past week. Another 35 percent say that they have received several such answers in the past year. Only 9 percent say they have never received an answer to prayer. Close to the 6 percent that say that they have never prayed.
For Christians, our relationship with God can be very personal. We all experience the disappointment from prayer at some time that our prayers didn’t get answered. Luhrmann suggests it’s actually an essential part of the prayer experience. “In fact,” she says, “prayer may be more comforting when it is not answered, because for many, prayer is about their relationship with God, not about the goodies we are asking for. Can we say a heartfelt thank you in the face of unanswered prayer? It is like a friend of mine who says thatall of our prayers, no matter what we are physically praying for – we are really saying that we want and need an outpouring of God’s Holy spirit to step in and do God’s will in this situation. For God knows best and we need His Holy Spirit to wash over us. To help us through whatever we find ourselves in. One of the greatest powers of prayer is that it winds around our world like a billion skeins of ribbon, binding people who have never met~ linking cultures that otherwise have no hope of understanding one another- then it shoots heaven ward like a spiritual supernova ,joining all of humanity in an instinctive reach for the eternity that is promised.
I think of faith as a journey through this world that God has given to us, and He is always here to help us along the journey. He will not force himself on us, so we need to pray to communicate with the One that we are in relationship with. For God loves us and accepts us wherever we are but he loves us too much to leave us there; He wants us to be more like Jesus.
We need to look at Jesus advice to us in Matthew 6:8-15 – “Do not be like them, for your father knows what you need before you ask him.
This, then is how you should pray:
“Our father in heaven, hallowed be your name, yourkingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us today our daily bread. Forgive us our debts as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.”
For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly father will also forgive you.
But if you do not forgive men their sins, your heavenly father will not forgive your sins.
May The Lord Bless and Keep You,
Rev. Stephen W. Barch