January 2019   
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"Pray without ceasing." I Thessalonians 5:17......"Prayer is not an exercise, it is the life.....Jesus never mentioned unanswered prayer; He had the boundless certainty that prayer is always answered.....Do we expect God to answer prayer?" Oswald Chambers

I'm not sure that there is any more misunderstood and underused aspect of our faith lives than prayer. Some approach it as a kind of "genie in a bottle" that we just go to Him, "rub" our Bibles and the promises they contain, and then expect the Father to grant our desire. Others see it as an act of desperation, something resorted to when all our efforts avail nothing. There are those who feel it's a matter of convincing a very reluctant God to help us, and so the more (and louder) we cry out to Him, as well as get others to join us in the crying, we'll convince Him to help. Too many of us, maybe most, think of it as a kind of 50/50 proposition. Perhaps He'll help us, answer us, but we're not sure. Our expectations are low. We have secondary resources to fall back on in case we don't hear from Him. Expectations are always a huge problem, because in them, we dictate to God how we think He should and must answer. All of the above make prayer often an exercise in futility. Has it been so with you? Too often it has been for me. Why? When Paul exhorted believers to "pray without ceasing," how could futility ever be the end result of it all? Could it be it's because so few of us really understand what prayer is?

I've a friend that likes to say that the true, best, and real answer to prayer is to have a heart completely at rest in Him. This means that in the midst of our needs, which are many, the first and best answer to them all is receiving Him......His Presence, Spirit, and Life. Where He is, turmoil, anxiety, chaos and fear cannot be. Where He is, perspective changes.....completely. The eyes of our heart are upon Him, and not on the need, crisis, or emergency. We talk to Him, and He to us, from a place of peace, which then yields a surrender of the situation to Him.....and then produces a deeper trust and faith in Him. We are praying from a place of rest, not fear, or panic. From that place we receive abundant grace to walk through the area of need and trust Him to meet, act in, and walk us through it, according to His time and way. And from that place we often discover that what we thought was a life threatening need, wasn't. Or what we thought we must have, we didn't. We start to discover what Chambers meant when he said that prayer was not an exercise, but the life. It's not something we do, it's a life condition we move in. Prayer becomes like breathing. It's not just words spoken to Him, but a heart connection with Him. Our expectations in it change from getting Him to do what we want, what my friend calls "results oriented prayer," to an expectation of laying hold of the mind and heart of Christ, and He laying hold of ours. Heart prayers. It is not goal oriented prayer, but Person oriented. Which is our orientation?

When we begin to realize that what the Father most wants to give us in prayer is Himself, and that we may have that expectation fulfilled in Christ each time we go to Him, our prayer lives will be revolutionized. He is the One thing, and and all other things flow out of Him. When we begin to experience that we begin to know that all we need is in Him....and He will bless us with so many lesser things as well. He is Life. Prayer connects us with His Life. In prayer we receive the fullness of His Life. What greater expectation could we have?

Pastor O

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