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When I say the word prayer, what comes to mind?  I’m not ignorant to the complex relationship many of us have with this topic.  I’m also not ignorant to the fact that the Bible I love so dearly uses the word pray, including all its variations, 375 times (NIV Exhaustive Concordance).  Additionally, there are 650 prayers in the Bible (Carter,J).  These numbers cause me to pause and I am forced to reflect on why such an obviously important concept is also so darn hard.  

 

In its simplest form prayer is a conversation with God.  But humans don’t keep things simple for long.  We want to know all the details — making sure it is worth our time and efforts.  We ask why, when, where and how to pray.  Our God given curiosity isn’t something that we need to feel guilty for, but we do have to be careful that it doesn’t derail our obedience to Him.  

You will never pray enough to earn His love or pray too little to lose his love.  Rest in his goodness and his always there, never ending love.  

 

Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever.

 -Psalm 136:1 emphasis mine

 

Day 1 

 

Why should we pray?

 

The easiest answer to this question is that Jesus did it, so we should too.  I know, I know.  This is the answer that you’ve heard before.  It brushes over all of the obvious reasons we struggle with prayer like —if God knows everything that is going to happen, what’s the point of praying?   God doesn’t change his mind (Numbers 23:19), so why ask him for things?

 

At the heart of this answer is the command of God for His children to move closer and closer to being like His son Jesus.  

 

In Matthew 17 we read about Jesus up high on a mountain with Peter, James and John.  Suddenly Moses and Elijah are there too and we read, “While he was still speaking, a bright cloud covered them, and a voice from the cloud said, ‘This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased. Listen to him!’”

 

God himself is telling Jesus’ closest companions, the three that Jesus has poured the most effort into, to “listen to him!”  

 

So what does Jesus say about prayer?   

 

Jesus tells us to pray in secret and to have a heart bowed towards humility  (Matthew 6:5-8).

 

Jesus tells us to pray for God’s kingdom to show itself here on earth, ask for our daily needs, ask for forgives and ask for deliverance from temptations (Matthew 6:9-13)

 

Then we have examples where Jesus simply prays.  Jesus, the son of God, the one most intimately connected to God, still took time to pray.  The Bible records Jesus praying 25 times (Carter, J.)

 

Jesus modeled praying alone, praying out loud, praying before major events, praying for his disciples and praying for all believers.  (Mark 1:35, Luke 11:41-42, Luke 22:39, John 17:6, John 17:20)

 

Is it true that God knows everything?  Yes.  

 

Is it true that God has full control over his creation?  Yes. 

 

We have the right to wrestle with these questions when it comes to prayer.  

 

But I think sometimes we question and argue ourself out of doing things that deserve simple obedience.  

 

The Messiah— Emmanuel, God with us — prayed.  The One that brings us into right standing with our Father, prayed.  Perfection, slain for our transgressions, bringing us into God’s holy family, prayed.  

 

So I invite you to let your soul rest in this knowledge and take obedient steps towards cultivating a relationship of prayer with our Creator.  God is faithful to help us overcome any questions or concerns that we have about prayer, but we have to take the first step and pray. 

 

 

Reflection Questions:

What questions about prayer create potential stumbling blocks to your prayer life?

How does looking at Jesus’ prayer life change or affirm your desire to pray?

 

 

Dig Deeper: 

Read through the scriptures referenced today.  Do any of the scriptures stand out to you as being crucial to your own understanding of prayer?

 

 

Check it out: 

Gathered Courage Podcast Episode 24- https://bit.ly/3aAfUMP

 

Gathered Courage Podcast Episode 25- https://bit.ly/32JkOCL

 

Gathered Courage Podcast Episode 31- https://bit.ly/3thtHy1

 

 

Resources: 

Carter, John. https://www.thegospelcoalition.org/article/9-things-you-should-know-about-prayer-in-the-bible1/

 

 

 

 

 

Day 2

 

When do we pray?

 

One of my favorite things about prayer is that it abounds with options for the “when”.  Today we will look at several scriptures to help us formulate the answers to when we should pray, but the simple answer is this — pray whenever.

 

1 Thessalonians 5:17 tells us to “never stop praying” (NIRV).  Take a deep breath.  This verse can feel very daunting, but I start with it because there is such beauty in the idea of living a life that is a prayer to God.  To so closely abide in God that our every waking moment is a conversation to him and for him.  Honestly I’m not sure that any of us will truly arrive at a 100% “never stop praying” daily life, but I know I’ve gotten glimpses of it in my life.  

 

Directly correlated with these glimpses are my actions towards abiding in God.  Reading my Bible, listening to worship music, participating in my churches community groups, attending church on Sunday, confessing my sins to a trusted friend—these are the actions that bring sanctification and a life that prays to God continually.  These are the actions that open my heart to the Holy Spirit filled constant conversations with God.  

 

Praying continually looks a lot like taking a deep breath and saying, “Lord thank you for the gift of my children,” when they run down the stairs before they're allowed time and interrupt my morning routine.  

 

Praying continually looks a lot like walking up to my husband giving him a hug and saying, “Lord breath into him your peace,” after a stressful work day and accompanied snippy comment from him.

 

Praying continually looks a lot like listening to the Holy Spirits prompts to say nothing, to be still and listen to a friends pride filled rant about her mother-in-law.  And then praying continually looks a lot like saying, “Lord guide my words as I bring to light the sin in her heart.”

 

Beyond the idea of living a life that is praying all of the time, we see other specific examples in the Bible for when we would pray.  We find examples of Jesus praying after major miraculous acts like feeding over 5,000 people with 5 loaves and 2 fish and before mind-blowing, other world actions like walking on water (Matthew 14:13-32). 

 

We find prayers from Elizabeth, Hannah, and Mary, with immediate praise, glorifying God for His goodness in their lives.  (Luke 1:67-79, 1 Samuel 2:1-11, Luke 1:46-55)

 

We find prayers after hardship and prayers before battle.  

 

When do we pray?  

 

We pray all the time and for it all.  

 

 

Reflection Questions:

Think about your prayer life.  When do you find yourself praying?  What situations or times of day do you go to prayer most often?  

Thinking of today’s content, is God trying to get your attention in any way regarding when you pray?

 

 

Dig Deeper: 

Read through the scriptures referenced today.  Do any of the scriptures stand out to you as being crucial to your own understanding of prayer?

 

 

Check it out:

Gathered Courage Episode #32- https://bit.ly/33azyee

 

Gathered Courage Episode #38- https://bit.ly/3gIJBii

 

Gathered Courage Episode #39- https://bit.ly/32JIeI3

 

 

 

Day 3

 

Where do we pray?

 

It may seem odd to think about, but I think more of us have an issue with this question than not.  We associate certain locations with certain actions.  While this is appropriate and healthy for things like completing homework or using the restroom (yep, I went there)—when it comes to prayer, there is no indication of the perfect location or posture.  

 

When we look at prayer in the Bible we see that it is done in all sorts of locations and postures.   

 

People prayed outside, at the dinner table, and in the Synagogue.  Sometimes people prayed in private.  Other times people prayed publicly.  

 

Here are 4 references (there are more) for placed that Jesus prayed.  

 

Luke 9:28- Jesus takes Peter, James and John up onto a mountain to pray.  

Luke 6:12- Jesus prayed along a mountainside.

Luke 5:16- Jesus prayed in lonely places

Matthew 19:13- Jesus prayed in public

 

Along with this physical location, there are several different position of our physical bodies mentioned.  The Bible describes people kneeling (I Kings 8:54, Ezra 9:5, Luke 22:41, Acts 9:40), sitting, (I Chronicles 17: 16-27), walking (2 Kings 4:35), standing (Nehemiah 9:5, Mark 11:25, Luke 18:13), bowing (Exodus 34:8, Psalm 72:11, Nehemiah 8:6), and prostrate (Joshua 7:6, Ezra 10:1, Matthew 26:39, Mark 14:35).  

 

I think the better question to ask ourselves is, where —both location and body posture— can’t we pray?

 

Basically, there are no rules to where we can pray; however, I will say that if you are looking to increase your time in prayer it could be very useful for you to create habits out of certain locations.  For example, many families pray before meals.  The dinner table is a location that has helped create a habit of praying.  For me, I have a specific chair that I sit in each morning as I spend time with God.  This is where I go to God in prayer each morning.  It is habitual for me, so no matter what my day holds I’ve bathed the day, my people and many situations in prayer.  

 

But, golly am I grateful that my ability to pray is not relegated to a specific place or posture.  I can bring anything and everything to God no matter where I am.  

 

 

Reflection Questions:

Think about your prayer life.  Where (location ad body position) do you find yourself praying?  Do these locations and positions bring you closer to God?  Why or why not?  

Thinking of today’s content, is God trying to get your attention in any way regarding where you pray?

 

 

Dig Deeper: 

Read through the scriptures referenced today.  Do any of the scriptures stand out to you as being crucial to your own understanding of prayer?

 

 

Check it out:

Gathered Courage Episode #32- https://bit.ly/33azyee

 

 

 

Day 4 

 

How do we pray?

 

I want to start by saying that there is no “right” way to pray.  There isn’t some magic formula that fast tracks our words to Him.  There is no one size fits all script that ensures God hears us.  

 

God is please with any and every prayer, even the ones where words escape you.  But Jesus himself gives his disciples an example of how to pray in Luke 11: 2-4 and Matthew 6:9-13.  

 

The verses in Matthew read

 

Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name,

your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.

Give us today our daily bread.

And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.

 

Let’s look at each verse and see how we can use this model for our own prayers. 

 

“Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name”—The beginning of Jesus’ prayer is putting God in His right place.  We are expressing that God is holy and special.  Jesus calls Him Father, but is sure to show an extra layer of respect and honor as well.  He is praising God by telling God who He is back to Him. 

 

“Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven”— We need to remember what God’s kingdom is supposed to look like.  Our broken world is not it.  Basically, the very opposite of hate, hurt, injustice, pain, striving, etc., are what His kingdom is all about.  Jesus is praying that the kingdom God originally wanted would be a reality here on earth.  Though the full reality of God’s perfect world will not be a reality until Jesus returns, God’s followers should be working for glimpses of it here and now. 

 

“Give us today our daily bread”— God is big enough to handle all of our asks, but this line of Jesus’ prayer challenges us to be content with what we need.  He is asking God for the days needs and nothing more.  God is good and he can give us much more than we ask or imagine.  We can come to God, with all of our big asks, but being grateful for having what we need humbles our heart before our Almighty God. 

 

"And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors”— God desires to forgive us when we sin against him — we only need to ask Him.  Jesus also calls us to forgive each other.  Along with several other scriptures where Jesus tells us to forgive over and over, He gives the instruction here in his model for how we should pray.  

 

“And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one”— Let me start by saying that God does NOT temp us to sin (James 1:13).  Jesus is asking God to help us not give into temptation.  This may seem like a pie in the ski ask, but we can have triumph over our sin when we live our lives in and through Jesus.   

 

 

We start our prayers by praising God for who he is.  

Our prayers continue by reminding ourselves that this world is not our home, but we are going to try our best to be like Jesus while we are here. 

Our prayers bring gratitude to God for all that he has given us, and show Him that we know He provides us with everything.  

Our prayers ask for forgiveness.

Our prayers ask for God’s help not to sin.

 

Reflection Questions:

Did you learn anything new about the Lord’s prayer from Matthew 6 today?

Thinking of today’s content, is God trying to get your attention in any way regarding how you pray?

 

 

Dig Deeper: 

Read the Luke 11 account of the Lord’s prayer.  How are the accounts similar?  How are they different?  

 

 

Check it out:

Gathered Courage Episode #28- https://bit.ly/3aUK8do

Gathered Courage Episode #34- https://bit.ly/3vzyIUm

 

 

Day 5

 

Project Pray Summary and FREEBIES

 

Prayer can't be put in a box.  I think that why it causes such a stink face reaction.  

 

We want easy, step by step instructions and nice neat answers.  

 

We don't want there to be confusion or hardship.

 

But that's just not reality.  The reality is God wants complete surrender of all the things in our lives, even our relationship with prayer.  He wants to be our everything-- our resting place for all of our heart's desires and head's questions.