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Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Invited to pray

Since prayer is at the bottom of all this, what I want mostly is for men to pray—not shaking angry fists at enemies but raising holy hands to God. And I want women to get in there with the men in humility before God, not primping before a mirror or chasing the latest fashions but doing something beautiful for God and becoming beautiful doing it.
(I Timothy 2:8-10)



Timothy is receiving the advice of not only a patriarch of the church (Paul), but a man who was like a father to him.  His words remind Timothy of the importance of prayer.  The opening words of this chapter begin with the imperative to pray - not just for those we like and know - but for rulers and governmens.  Paul tells Timothy to pray in every way he knows how to pray - with all commitment of heart, spirit, and mind.

Paul invites Timothy to pray with a passion - putting every effort into the prayers.  I know that there are many reading this today and thinking, "How do you pray like that?"  We "put in our time" in prayer on a regular basis, but sometimes don't feel like we have "given it our all".  This is a common theme I hear when speaking with fellow believers.  We either feel like our prayer time is not being fruitful, we are not praying enough, or that we don't know how to pray the way we should.

Paul says we pray every way we know how, for everyone we know. That means that we employ the abilities we have been given to pray.  Some of us have a deep connection with the physical suffering of others - we are moved to pray for those things that impact their health, their emotions, or their spirits that have a "physical" basis to them.  Others see past the physical to the deeper connection of the spirit and pray for the specific spiritual needs of those individuals.  Still others can put both together and are skillful in praying for both the physical and spiritual needs they see.

Regardless of how "cultured" we feel in prayer, we are told to pray.  Paul calls us to "do something beautiful" with our lives. There is nothing more beautiful to God than to see one of his kids embracing the pain, suffering, or doubts of another and bringing it before him in prayer.  He delights in seeing his church embrace the challenges of others in the attitude of prayer.

Our invitation today is to do something beautiful with our lives - begin to pray for others in the simple way we know how to pray.  It may be what I call "arrow" prayers at first - those simple words that take a need before God quickly and plainly.  Or it may be that we are burdened over and over again for someone - taking them often before the throne of God for intervention into the circumstances of their lives.  We need each other's prayers.  Our leaders need our prayers.  Our community needs our prayers. 

Don't fret about the "eloquence" of your prayers.  God never looked for the eloquent to represent him - he looked for the obedient.  God hears the simplicity of our prayers and they are like words of gold to him.  Pray in the manner most comfortable to you.  God has open ears, ready hands, and a tender heart for those that will embrace this call to pray.