I read a survey recently that suggested that some 90% or more of Americans pray. What an encouragement, right? In a world in which people often seem to be cold toward God or at least religion and religious institutions and practices in their personal lives a great majority pray. A deeper look at the survey however shows that what people pray about is often self-centered prayers for winning the lottery, gaining promotions, and finding greater success or wealth. Many do pray for the health of others who are facing diseases or the injuries from accidents and the like; yet even with these prayers are often a “telling God what to do,” or a wishing and hoping that “my will will be done.” Most certainly God listens, hears and responds to all of our prayers, but is prayer to envisioned as the time I suggest to God how to make things work in his world and in my life?
If we are to learn to pray like Jesus’, “not my will but Thine,” our prayers need a guiding compass, a point of reference that guides us to prayer according to God’s heart and intentions for the world. This is the essence of “The Lord’s Prayer” of Matthew, chapter 6. Perhaps our prayer life would be deeper if our prayer life was connected to our readings and meditations on the scriptures of the Bible. It has been said, “the Bible is not given for our information, but for our transformation.” When our scripture reading and listening informs our prayers, our prayers are encouraged, challenged, changed and answered as we gain new understandings of God’s will in our lives and in His world. The season of Lent begins this Wednesday. Traditionally, Lent has been a time for Christians, as followers of Jesus, to deepen their faith through practicing the character and likeness of Christ, by giving up things which lead us away from Christ and taking on practices that lead us closer. Perhaps taking up the practice of Praying the Scriptures, could transform our prayer lives this year.