Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Expand your Prayer Life

by Mark Altrogge @http://www.theblazingcenter.com

Do you get distracted when you are praying? Or do you find that after 5 minutes you’re out of things to pray about?

If you’d like to expand your prayer life, try using the Lord’s prayer as a pattern. Jesus never intended this prayer to be memorized and spouted off word for word in rote fashion. We know this because the version in Matthew 6 is worded slightly differently than in Luke 11. Jesus gave this “prayer” to us as a pattern or outline. You can think of each section as a peg to hang your prayers on. I once heard a man suggest to view each section like a marker in a cross-country race. When you pass each marker, you move into a different theme.

The Lord’s prayer has 2 dimensions – a vertical dimension and a horizontal dimension (R.K. Hughes). The vertical dimension has to do with God and his concerns - his glory, his kingdom. The horizontal dimension has to do with us and our concerns - for food, forgiveness, and strength.

Today we’ll start looking at the vertical dimension.

Who we pray to: Father

And he said to them, “When you pray, say: “Father…” (Luke 11:2. Compare to Matthew 6 – “Our Father”)

A revolutionary concept

Though the idea of God as Father is in the Old Testament, OT believers didn’t address God directly as “Father”. In all of the Psalms, there is not a single prayer to God as Father. The Psalmists address God as “O Lord,” “O My God,” “O God,” “O Most High.” Even David, the man after God’s own heart, didn’t pray to God as his Father. King David himself didn’t have the intimate relationship with God as Father that we can have through Christ.

Through his life, death and resurrection, Jesus has brought believers into a relationship with God as Father! Through Christ, God adopts us as his own children. We’re in the family!

For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him. (Romans 8:15-17).

Jesus mission was to live and die to redeem sinners, but it also included revealing God as Father.

What a privilege! To know and come to God as our Father!

How close and intimate God desires to be to his children. Although it is appropriate to pray to God as “O Most High,” that doesn’t convey the same sense as “Father”. Before Jesus saved me, I would pray to “God” but he seemed far off and distant. I’m so grateful that Jesus shed his blood to bring me to God as my Father.

As our Father, God is full of tender compassion to us. He is eager for us to come to him. He delights to fellowship with his children and to bless us with good things. As a loving Father he cares for our well-being and desires to hear our requests and meet our needs.

Are you suffering today? Do you need help overcoming sin? Do you desire to be filled with God’s Spirit and joy and strength? Do you need wisdom? Come to your loving Father with all your requests, casting all your cares upon him because he cares for you.

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