Learning to Practice what I Preach
I had prepared this devotion and finished it a week ago, since then our lives have changed dramatically. We live in the Tasman area at the top of the South Island of New Zealand and at the moment Tasman is being ravaged by a huge forest fire. It is unprecedented in New Zealand; 3000 people have already been evacuated from their homes, we are currently under alert to move if the army or police turn up on our doorstep and tell us to evacuate. It is the oddest feeling.
This week's subject is prayer, oh my goodness have I had to do my utmost to put into practice what I have written. Learning to stay under God's wings, drawing closer to Him and knowing that He loves and cares for us no matter what storms are raging, is our primary focus right now.
For those reading this who are going through any storm, go into your secret place, lay your fears, your turmoil at the foot of the cross and REST, utterly surrender and give thanks for Who God is, always has been and always will be.
You will find some images of the fire on our Gallery page.
Here is what God inspired me to write a week ago.
Teach Us How to Pray
There are screeds of essays, notes, books, dissertations that have been written about how we should pray. Scripture tells us Jesus spent much time alone with God, sometimes all night in prayer. The disciples were very aware of this and must have recognised its importance, to the extent that they asked Him “Teach us how to pray”.
I wonder, do we think of asking that question of our Lord Jesus Christ? Often, we are intent upon starting on our issues, what we need answers to, how our day has gone awry and the list goes on. Compare this to how Jesus responded to His disciples when they did ask the question.
He began by breaking all the rules. Throughout Israel’s history, God had been seen and respected as the Father of the nation, but not a personal Father wanting a personal, individual relationship with each of us. Yet here was Jesus commanding that our first priority when praying must be to establish an open channel to our Abba Father, in other words being in communion with God. “Our Father”. Not “your” Father; already Jesus is aligning us with Himself, drawing us into that intimate family circle.
Then, He reminds us of the holiness of God, showing us that our communion with Him has to be holy, set apart, just as He is. Having established this, Jesus doesn’t launch into a catalogue of needs and wants. It is all about God, our task is to align ourselves with His desire for this world, it is that simple. “Your Kingdom come. Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven”.
Next time you pray, look at each verse in this passage of scripture in Matthew’s gospel. If your heart is to earnestly seek God in prayer, pray through each phrase just as Jesus taught. Not as a liturgy, but with an open heart, savouring Jesus’ words, surrendering totally to His instruction. Take time, think about what this wonderful song to our Father God is all about, what it means for you and your walk with Him.
If we look carefully at something else Jesus said in the passage of scripture in Matthew, He told us that when we pray to our Father who is in secret, He will reward us openly. Reward us openly. We focus so much on answers to our prayers, yet here Jesus is talking about rewards.
Once again, the emphasis is to keep our hearts and minds fixed on our Father God. Answers are all about what we want, or think we need. Rewards are an outpouring of the Grace of the God who loves us beyond all limits. Of course God cares about our physical needs, Jesus’ prayer makes that clear. But, our first priority is to step into communion with God, drawing more deeply into our relationship with Him, so that from that we will desire whatever He places in us to desire. Our reward is to pray as He would have us pray, so that His Kingdom can come, that His Will can be done on earth as it is in Heaven.
Abba Father, teach us how pray, as You would have us pray, in the Name of Jesus and by the power of Holy Spirit.