Picture a person standing on the outside of a door – perhaps they ignore the door, or wait hesitantly on the threshold. Perhaps they question whether anything is on the other side, or insist that they cannot go through – no-one inside wants to hear from them. Or maybe they step confidently through, eyes aglow, excited to converse with an intimate friend who waits for them inside. We each have a kind of “door” in our lives – and truth is, it has been propped open to allow us access to a magnificent Someone – to God Himself. He can hear us – He wants to hear us! He has invited us to talk to Him, honestly, openly and humbly; not with formulas learned over the years, or desperately as a last resort, but constantly and consistently.
When we pray, we participate in the greatest and most important relationship ever created – the one between us and God. Ephesians 2:18 tells us, “For through him (Jesus Christ) we both (Jews and Gentiles – everyone) have access to the Father by one Spirit.” This statement is so profound! Through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, we – anyone who believes in Him – are given access, in the Holy Spirit, to God, who is in heaven, and yet positions Himself as a good Father to us!
This God who created the incomprehensible, inconceivable vastness of the universe, is our Father, and we can talk to Him! He’s here with us – so present that Jesus used the Aramaic word, “Abba” to talk to Him; a word that we might translate, “Daddy.” We
are invited into this same intimacy with God. When we pray, we relate to our Father, and we do it through Jesus. By ourselves, we have a wall between us and God – the wall of our own sinful nature, which separates us from Him. It’s Jesus who opens the door between us and God, allowing us access – in Him, we can come into the Father’s presence.
Jesus allows us to pray, and in Matthew 6:6, He gives us some frameworks for our prayer life. “But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.” This verse assumes that we will pray – that it is a normal and natural part of our existence. Prayer is how we come closer to God – how we build our relationship with Him, and it’s in this relationship with Him that we find our meaning and purpose.
A little later, in verses 6-13, Jesus models prayer for us…
“Our Father in heaven…” This is us, remembering who God is, and recentering Him on the throne of our lives. It is good to remind ourselves that He is our great King. “Hallowed be your name…” Our prayers should be worshipful! We should take delight in praising God for who He is. “Your Kingdom come, Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven…” This is not a statement of resignation to God’s will, but a desire that His will – which is good, pleasing and perfect – will take precedence; that He will reign on earth as He does in heaven.
“Give us this day our daily bread…” We can ask God to provide for our daily needs, trusting that He will do so. Whether this translates into financial needs, physical or emotional needs, the truth remains: He is divinely able to provide for us, and He cares for our needs.
“And forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us…” When we understand the forgiveness that we have received through Jesus, we are infinitely more able to extend forgiveness to others! As we learn to comprehend the freedom from sin that we have, we will be able to forgive those who hurt us, no matter how difficult it is – and sometimes it is tremendously difficult!
“Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil…” God does not tempt us, but He is in control of how much we are tempted, and He helps us when we invite Him into the areas that offer most temptation to us – and, from gossip to pornography, we each have those “problem areas.” So why not ask for His help?
Whatever the situation, He has the power to affect change. Not only does He have the power, but the Bible says that He, “knows how to give good gifts to those who ask Him.” So let’s ask Him! He loves to give good gifts to His children.
That said, there may be times when God does not do what we have asked.
Among other things, we sometimes might not have a clear idea of God’s will for us. Like a parent must sometimes say, “No,” because they know, more than their child does, what is good for him/her, sometimes God says, “No,” because He knows infinitely more than we do! In some cases we will be able to look back later on and see why He did not answer the way we would have liked. There will be other times, though, when we never know why God didn’t answer the way we wanted – and we have to be able to accept that, too. He is the greater One in the relationship.
But one thing we know is true – God is good. His gifts are good. Relationship with Him is very good! Prayer builds that relationship.
And the time to pray is… always.
1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 says,
“Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”
If your prayer life feels like an obligation more than a joy, or even like a distant memory, why not revive it now? God is listening. He hears your heart – and He cares for you, more than you can know.