Sunday, August 21, 2011

Don't Pray Like Them

Jesus usually used parables when He taught, except when He taught people how to pray. He used direct speech. "Don't pray like them." The hypocrites liked to make appearances and show off with eloquent words. Jesus saw through their empty prayers. He said, "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," (Matthew 6:6 NIV).

I've thought I'm okay because I pray in private and not in public for recognition. Yet, today when I read the Lord's Prayer in the sixth chapter of Matthew, I asked myself if my life matched my prayers. How often have I prayed for the homeless and hungry and done nothing personally to help them? Can I honestly say, "I gave at church," and think it is enough? How often have I prayed for the sick and failed to call or visit or send a card? I've been in the hospital and I know how important those calls, cards and visits are.

I've thought that my prayers are good Christian prayers. "Lord, bless me and expand the boundaries of my ministry." But when I looked at the Lord's Prayer, I didn't see one single personal pronoun--not one. Check it out:
Our Father who art in Heaven,
hallowed by your name,
your kingdom come,
your will be done
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread,
Forgive us our debts,
as we forgive our debtors.
And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil.
For yours is the kingdom and the power
and the glory forever. Amen.

Prayer is not about me, but about God and others. Yet, I live in a selfish and self-centered world. God's thoughts and ways are higher than mine. He made each of us in His image and desires more for us. He loves us so much He has made a way for us to be with Him forever. We can learn to work and pray and love as He does but only with His power and strength.

Lord Jesus, thank you for loving us. You are the awesome and true God. You have life and love everlasting. Empower us to love as you do, to live out our prayers after we say "Amen."


HisPrincessWarrior said...

Dearest Mrs Sue
What a wonderful and extrememely convicting point! Not ONE personal pronoun! What a jewel for the Spirit to have revealed to you! Thank you for being open and honest and willing to share it here on your blog!
But I have a question (and forgive me if it is a stupid one :P I may merely be is pretty late- lol)
I know we are to pray unselfishly-- but are we not also to pray for the Lord to fulfill our needs? For example, aren't we suppose to pray for His strength for each day, for His grace, His wisdom, to love as He loved?? (and i realize that you are not contradicting this point either :D ) I know I cannot personally make it through nearly every day without begging Him for His help to live it right! In a way that honors Him!
... or is that in actuallity NOT a selfish prayer, b/c it's end is a Godly testimony and furtherence of the Gospel, and usefulnes for Him; and obedience to Him?
... did i just answer my own question?????????
At any rate, I just wanted to thankyou for this thought provoking post. It did just that to me...
Love in Christ
Miss Katie Hamilton

Sue Tornai said...

My Dear Miss Katie,
You are absolutely right. You answered your own question. Praying for strength and power to love as God loves is not selfish, but God honoring. I do that every day too. My point is that prayer is not all about me and my life, but about God and others too. Thank you for sharing your wonderful thoughts.

Chris said...

Words of wisdom, my friend. Thanks for sharing this truth.

My husband and I were just talking about the idea that we should not be praying for stuff, but for the character of Christ in us so that we might bring him glory through our lives.

I believe that God is awakening His Church to that direction of being in Christ Jesus.

Danie Marie said...

I so agree with Chris, and love your heart for God, Sue. Oh, that we would be transformed into His image and see others throug His eyes...

Love ~ Danie

Sue Tornai said...

Thank you for your insights, Chris and Danie. I appreciate your comments.

Kris Lindsey said...

Great insight. I'd never noticed the pronouns before. What a great way to look at Jesus' instructions--to pray for "us".

Sue Tornai said...

I would love to take credit for the wonderful insight, but it came from a church sermon. Had to share it. :)