Concerning Prayer

Chaplain Leigh Ann Min
Shelby Baptist Medical Center

[Jesus saying to his disciples] “Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him. Pray then in this way: Our Father 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 bring us to the time of trial, but rescue us from the evil one. For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you;but if you do not forgive others, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.”  (Matthew 6:8-15 NRSV)

Have you ever considered prayer as a form of communion with God? By communion, I mean, the sharing of intimate thoughts and feelings in prayer with God. Serving as chaplain at SBMC, I pray with people, a lot, and have given a lot of thought to what it means to pray. I have wondered: Why would we need to share our thoughts with God? God already knows us: “the Father knows what you need before you ask” as we see in verse 8. God does not need to know what we are thinking and feeling. We need to know what we are thinking and feeling. We need to become more aware of ourselves and our relationship with God. And, we need to acknowledge and accept our need of God in our lives so that we can approach God with an openness to change.

Our prayers are very telling if we are honest. They reveal who we are trusting in, and what we believe. I believe, if we are willing to enter into intentional times of communion with God, we have opportunity for transformation to take place. Through prayerful communion with God, we can enter into the holy experience of God’s transforming love in our lives. We are bold to pray what we’ve come to call The Lord’s Prayer. We are bold to pray “YOUR will be done” if we really mean it. We, who like our autonomy, our independence, our self-made “pull ourselves up by the boot straps” “git ‘er done” mentality, are bold to pray “transform me” Lord. We, who do NOT like change are bold to pray “change me” Lord.

Once, in a women’s group, one of the women shared an insight that she had during a time of prayer. She was having trouble in her marriage. She was constantly complaining about her husband, his habits, etc, and her nightly prayers were: change this (fill in the blank), change that (fill in the blank) about him Lord.  Night after night, she kept praying, and seeing no results until one night in her prayers, exhausted, and tired of praying the same prayers to change HIM, she got still, and decided to listen. She became aware of a new perspective. It is ME who needs to change, change ME, Lord. When she came to that place and when her prayers became change me, she began to see changes in her marriage and the relationship with her husband. She was thankful for the awareness she came to, accepted her responsibility in the marriage and need for change, and took action in that relationship. In the end, they remained together.

Prayer changes lives. Jesus says to his disciples, “Pray then in this way: Our Father in heaven, hallowed by your name. Your kingdom come. Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.” (v. 9-10)” Jesus wraps his arms around his disciples and says pray to OUR Father. When we pray in this way, we commune with Jesus, we join with him, praying to our Father, Our Father, who is in heaven, who is holy, and who is sacred. And by praying in his name, our time, our words, our lives also become holy, become sacred. We are praying to the Father, the One in whose kingdom we belong, whose “will” we desire to be done – on earth, as in heaven – the One who knows what we need before we ask. But through our act of asking, we have the opportunity to come to a greater understanding of our relationship with God and his authority. We pray with Jesus to the Father, who has authority to provide for our needs. We pray “Give us,” “Forgive us,” and “Rescue us”. We ask for daily bread, for what we need to sustain us for continuing, transforming relationship with our Father for TODAY. We pray with Jesus to the Father for our needs TODAY and TODAY we are changed. And because we are changed, our community changes.

Prayer: Dear Lord, may the act of my choosing to pray, to enter into an intentional time of communion with you through the power of your Holy Spirit, be pleasing to you and transformative to me. Help me be open to your leading and your call on my life today.  Forgive me and help me to forgive others. Because you loved first, I am able to know and respond to your love and grace. Help me to extend to myself and others, the grace and forgiveness you extend to me today. Amen.

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