I have worked exclusively at churches since I was 16 years old. The culture and way of communicating in the church were foreign languages to this gal when I first started. I had no frame of reference for Bible stories or words like, “redeemed”, “righteous”, “sanctified”, etc. Overtime, they slowly became familiar and comfortable to me but it took years.
I recently started a job at a law firm. I have no idea what they are talking about most of the time! They throw out words like, “deposition”, “litigation”, “defense”, “plaintiff”, “interrogatories”, and lots of other things that I don’t understand. I literally google what they say when they walk away, so that I can accomplish whatever task that I’m asked to do.
Being the newbie has reminded me that many people come into church feeling the same way. These Back 2 Basics posts are meant to be a starting place for those of you who feel overwhelmed or lost after giving your heart to Jesus. I was right there with you and didn’t know where to start either. These posts can also serve as a reminder for those of us who have been in the Church for a while, to not make our lives with Jesus too complicated.
Last week, we discussed the importance of studying the Word of God. I encouraged readers to keep it simple when you’re first starting to read the Bible. The goal is to actually understand what you’ve read and apply it to your life.
Today we are going to take a very simple look at prayer. Pastors tell us all the time to read our Bibles and pray. But what if we don’t understand what prayer is or know how to pray?
“Then you will call upon Me and come and pray to Me, and I will listen to you,” (Jeremiah 29:12 NASB).
Prayer is simply having a conversation with God. God speaks and we listen. We speak and He listens. He created us so that we could be in relationship with Him. If my husband and I never spoke, would we have a good, fun, healthy marriage? No way! We are able to enjoy each other’s company because we have spent a lot of time getting to know one another. The same is true with God. Prayer is our way of getting to know His heart.
This is how Jesus told us to pray:
“Father, may your name be kept holy.
May your Kingdom come soon.
Give us each day the food we need,
and forgive us our sins,
as we forgive those who sin against us.
And don’t let us yield to temptation,” (Luke 11:1-4 NLT).
Honor God first. Pray for His will to be done. Ask for His provision. Ask for forgiveness. Keep your heart in a posture of forgiving others. Ask for protection from temptation. This prayer keeps our hearts pure because it prioritizes our daily dependence on Christ.
When I first got saved, we would gather in a circle and hold hands during prayer in youth group. Someone would start and then we would squeeze the person’s hand standing next to us if we wanted to be skipped. Then the next person would pray. I did A LOT of hand squeezing! It can be intimidating and vulnerable to pray out loud when you’re first learning. Don’t worry about impressing anyone and just bravely step out. Like we talked about least week, the goal is to please God, not impress people.
Prayer can be something that you schedule at a specific time time and place. Some of the most powerful times that I have had with the Lord have been when I set aside time to go into my closet to be alone with Him. But it can also be spontaneous, all throughout the day. You can pray under your breath stepping into a meeting, when you’re stuck in traffic, etc.
1 Thessalonians 5:17 (NKJV) says to, “Pray without ceasing.” I LOVE The Passion Translation. It translates the verse, “Make your life a prayer.” Doesn’t that sound like God? “Make your life a conversation with Me because I long to be near you.” Who wouldn’t want that invitation from the Lover of their soul?!
I know this is simple stuff. But I hope I’ve encouraged you to boil your faith down to the basics and not add more to your plate than what God is asking of you. God just wants you! Spend some time with Him in prayer today.