Lean In…and Pray

James 5:16 …The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.

 

There was a story I heard a while back about a guy who was out hiking with his buddies. They were all avid outdoorsmen who were packed with the latest gear, gadgets, and know-how. They chose to do a familiar night hike up in the mountains near their home and camp until morning and make the trek back for the rest of the following day. Donned with lights, all-weather gear, and supplies they split up to do a little solo night orienteering where just using a map and compass, they sought to find their camp. As they were heading out, the weather took a turn with some strong winds whistling through the trees and clouds blocking the moonlight. A light mist turned into a mild rain, then a steady rain, and then a downpour. The guys all sought shelter. One found a cleft in a rock to wait out the worst of the storm and a few others found some fallen trees to be their makeshift shelter. One kept moving, wanting to outwit and outsmart his friends. The rain was making small rivers through the forest and as this one guy turned a corner, a few of those rivers collided and created such a swift current that it swept the guy off his feet, down a steep incline where his light showed that he was heading straight for a sheer cliff. The guy turned to claw at the steep incline, but the debris was too slippery. A rock took out his light just as the water and guy flew off the cliff. The guy, still clawing, now at the side of the cliff felt himself fall, and then all of a sudden, a small yet sturdy bush abruptly stopped what was certain death. The guy quickly took out rope and secured himself to the bush. Catching his breath, he yelled for help. No one answered. He kept yelling and listening. It was difficult to hear as the rain and wind continued to howl. Desperate, he prayed, “God I know I’m not very religious, nor have I been to church, but I could use a miracle here. Please help me.” The wind howled more, yet the rain did begin to relent. Just then the bush gave a crack and seemed to be pulling out of the side of the cliff. The rope slipped off and the guy was now hanging, dangling from the bush. He prayed…now out loud, first with a sheepish “Gooooood!” Another crack, and the bush bounced down about six inches. Now with more conviction the guy screamed out, “Are you out there! Please help me!” Then a small voice answered back. “Let go of the branch.” The guy was first shocked that he got a verbal answer, but then to let go and fall to his death, it made no sense. The guy called back, “Is there anybody else up there?” “Nope, just let go”, came the answer as a light came on about eight feet below him as the rest of this guy’s friends were below with arms held up ready to catch him. See, he was just out of their reach only about 3 feet above the ground.

 

Well, I’m not sure if the story above really happened but it opens up the subject of prayer. Prayer is talking to or communicating with God. See, God is not distant deity that stands aloof from humanity, but desires connection and relationship with us.

Revelation 3:20 Behold, I (Jesus) stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me.

James 4:8 Draw near to God, and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded.

Proverbs 8:17 I (God) love those who love me, and those who seek me diligently find me.

Jeremiah 33:3 Call to me(God) and I will answer you, and will tell you great and hidden things that you have not known.

God is always ready to listen and connect with us as we pray. So lean in and pray for prayer is important. So important it is mentioned some 250 times in the Bible. Now sure all-knowing God does know our thoughts (See Psalm 139:1-6) but just like our friends or loved ones like it when we communicate them, God loves the sound of our thoughts and voice (Zephaniah 3:17, Jeremiah 31:3, John 3:16, Psalm 86:15) and longs for us to interact with His through prayer. So lean in and pray!

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.

When we talk to God we gain a greater sense of connection with Him and we are more open to sense His comfort, care, and guidance.

 

So what do we say to God? Jesus gave us a formula in what is called “the Lord’s Prayer”

Luke 11:1-4 Now Jesus was praying in a certain place, and when he finished, one of his disciples said to him, “Lord, teach us to pray, as John taught his disciples.” And He said to them, “When you pray, say: “Father, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come. Give us each day our daily bread, and forgive us our sins, for we ourselves forgive everyone who is indebted to us. And lead us not into temptation.”

Pray includes words of praise and thanks to God (1 Chronicles 16:8-12), voicing requests (Philippians 4:6-7), expressing confession (1 John 1:9), and asking for guidance (James 1:5). God looks forward to these moments when we pray. So, lean in and pray!

 

Church can be a great place to not only practice prayer, but also to learn how to pray. If you don’t already have a church you regularly attend, we would like to invite you to Cypress Church or any of our branch churches. We are continuing a Bible teaching series called “Leaning in – Experiencing God in everyday life”. Our website has more information: http://www.cypresschurch.net.

 

Leaning into prayer along with you,

Mike

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