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Tag Archive | "pray"

Teach us to pray


Pastor Herb VanderBilt

East Nelson United Methodist Church

9024 18 Mile Rd. Cedar Springs

 

“One day Jesus was praying in a certain place. When he finished, one of the disciples said to him, ‘Lord, Teach us to pray, just as John taught his disciples.’ He said to them, “When you pray, say Father…” (Luke 11: 1-2a.)

What follows these words is the very familiar words of the Lord’s Prayer, which is still an excellent model of how to pray today. So why did the disciples ask Jesus how to pray? Certainly prayer was not unusual in Jewish culture as there are several references to people praying. What was so different about Jesus and his prayers? The other question that came to me while I read these words again is how do we learn to pray? Is there a right way to pray? Why are people reluctant to pray aloud or to lead our groups to pray? These are all legitimate questions to ask ourselves during Lent, as we consider what part prayer takes in our Journey of Hope.

Many people, who grow up in the church, learn to pray as young children. I think the first prayer that I learned was at the dinner table, “God bless this food…” As adults however many people become uncomfortable when asked to pray or to pray aloud in public. According to the book that I am reading, Let the Whole Church Say Amen, by Lawrence Hall Stookey, one reason that so many people today are confused about how to pray is because they have never been taught. Just like the disciples, people need to have prayer modeled for them. One of the reasons many are hesitant to pray out loud is because people think that they have to pray “In King James” i.e. using thee or thou or wouldst or beseech, words that we really don’t use anymore. The reason Jesus’ disciples were so interested in learning how to pray like Jesus is that Jesus didn’t use extremely formal language to talk to God the Father; in fact he used the term “Abba,” which literally translated means “Daddy.” If a young child falls down and hurts himself, how does he talk to his parents? Does he say, “Father, if it is not too much trouble, can you consider coming to give me some help?” No, they most likely will say “Daddy, I am hurt, come help me!” Certainly we can pray to our Heavenly Father that way, too. Prayer is simply that—talking to God, the God who created us and formed us in his image. The God who has promised to always be with us, he doesn’t require a special invitation, so we don’t have to ask him to be with us, because he already is.

Prayer is like any other kind of speech or language; we need to practice. Practice praying, listening to Him and then teaching others. “For Yours is the kingdom, the Power and the Glory forever. Amen.”

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Don’t Pray for Rain


Ronnie McBrayer

Ronnie McBrayer

by Ronnie McBrayer

I’ve made a habit lately of studying the Amish. The Amish (and their cousins the Mennonites, Brethren, and a few other groups) are lovers and active makers of peace. They value simplicity above almost any other thing. They love their families and community, and they have a profound trust in God. This trust, employing a good Amish-German word, is called “Gelassenheit.”
“Gelassenheit” is usually translated as “submission” or “to yield,” but it is so much more. It is a total letting go. It is a relinquishment of the self. It is a “thy will be done” kind of life – not a blind, hopeless fatalism, but a defiant and restful faith in God. One Amish farmer summed up “Gelassenheit” saying, “We don’t pray for rain, but we are thankful to God when the rain arrives.” This perspective gives the Amish a completely different understanding of “the will of God” than most of the Christian universe.
Many of us have been taught that “God’s will” is this magic be-all-end-all, which, if discovered, can end all the angst and indecision of life. So we chase after and fret over what God wants us to do, thinking there will be complete and total disaster if we miss the secret plan he has for us. We twist and writhe in the anguish of our decisions, never feeling good about any choice we make.
Maybe we can take a cue from the Amish and neutralize the mystery of finding and doing God’s will. Maybe we can learn to simply trust God with our life and our circumstances. Maybe, if we keep hitting the wall, we can stop, listen, and trust for a while. Maybe we can learn to yield our own wills, or at least stop using God’s name to sanction our decisions.
Here is the thing the Amish can teach us: Rather than trusting an exact path and direction for your life, just trust God with your life. After all, God is bigger than your plans, stronger than your failures, and never fails to reward those who seek after him. You can find peace by quit trying to figure out what to do for God and simply rely upon God.
Meister Eckhart wrote: “God wants no more from you than you letting go of yourself. Then you can let God be God in you.” If that’s not God’s will, then I don’t know what is.

Ronnie McBrayer is a syndicated columnist, speaker, and author. His books include “Leaving Religion, Following Jesus” and “The Jesus Tribe.” Visit his website at www.ronniemcbrayer.net.

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