In the religious world of the time of Jesus, everyone realized that a relationship with God was practiced through particular, often formalized, spiritual disciplines and/or exercises. Jesus wants His followers to have an intimate and non-formalized relationship with God, just as He has with God the Father and God the Spirit. He tells His followers on repeated occasions to practice different spiritual exercises in their conversation with God, which was different than what was expected at that time.
I am including the three major instructions on prayer that we have recorded by Jesus. In today's devotion, spend time reading these sections over and let Jesus guide you to a completely different type of relationship with God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. You will be surprised and delighted if you just let the words Jesus says speak for themselves.
"When you pray, you are not to be like the hypocrites; for they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and on the street corners so that they may be seen by men. Truly I say to you, they have their reward in full. "But you, when you pray, go into your inner room, close your door and pray to your Father who is in secret, and your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you. "And when you are praying, do not use meaningless repetition as the Gentiles do, for they suppose that they will be heard for their many words. "So do not be like them; for your Father knows what you need before you ask Him. "Pray, then, in this way: 'Our Father who is in heaven, Hallowed be Your name. 'Your kingdom come. Your will be done, On earth as it is in heaven. 'Give us this day our daily bread. 'And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. 'And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.' "For if you forgive others for their transgressions, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. "But if you do not forgive others, then your Father will not forgive your transgressions."
"It happened that while Jesus was praying in a certain place, after He had finished, one of His disciples said to Him, "Lord, teach us to pray just as John also 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 also forgive everyone who is indebted to us. And lead us not into temptation.' " Then He said to them, "Suppose one of you has a friend, and goes to him at midnight and says to him, 'Friend, lend me three loaves; for a friend of mine has come to me from a journey, and I have nothing to set before him'; and from inside he answers and says, 'Do not bother me; the door has already been shut and my children and I are in bed; I cannot get up and give you anything.' "I tell you, even though he will not get up and give him anything because he is his friend, yet because of his persistence he will get up and give him as much as he needs. "So I say to you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. "For everyone who asks, receives; and he who seeks, finds; and to him who knocks, it will be opened. "Now suppose one of you fathers is asked by his son for a fish; he will not give him a snake instead of a fish, will he? "Or if he is asked for an egg, he will not give him a scorpion, will he? "If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him?"
"Now He was telling them a parable to show that at all times they ought to pray and not to lose heart, saying, "In a certain city there was a judge who did not fear God and did not respect man. "There was a widow in that city, and she kept coming to him, saying, 'Give me legal protection from my opponent.' "For a while he was unwilling; but afterward he said to himself, 'Even though I do not fear God nor respect man, yet because this widow bothers me, I will give her legal protection, otherwise by continually coming she will wear me out.' " And the Lord said, "Hear what the unrighteous judge said; now, will not God bring about justice for His elect who cry to Him day and night, and will He delay long over them? "I tell you that He will bring about justice for them quickly. However, when the Son of Man comes, will He find faith on the earth?"
Now remember that prayer is really a way of talking about the kind of relationship you have with God. It is not about making lists and standing or kneeling in a particular way. In a journal or notebook, write down what you learned about how our relationship with God can be like according to Jesus' teaching in these sections. How is what you read different from what you think right now? Did Jesus reveal a new or different truth to you in these passages? Now write down what you also learned about prayer. Are you encouraged by what you learned? Does prayer seem more real to you, more relational?
I would love to hear from you and your experience with prayer and how God has answered prayers for you in your life. Feel free to reach out to me at email@example.com. Remember, your greatest life is just ahead.
In His service,
Pastor Gil Stieglitz
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