To Whom It May Concern

“This, then, is how you should pray: ‘Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name…’”—Matthew 6:9(NIV).

 Letter writing seems to be a lost art. I can recall writing letters of recommendation for students when I taught high school. I always requested the name of the person to whom I needed to address the letter, if it were available. “To whom it many concern” seemed so impersonal.

I thought about this phrase when we were discussing prayer and its role in our lives during a recent Sunday school discussion. Many people who know of God, but don’t know Him personally, seldom turn to prayer unless it’s an emergency. For those who do know Him personally, they don’t address their prayers, “to whom it may concern.”

In “Committed to Christ: Six Steps to a Generous Life,” author Bob Crossman, says, “To grow toward a deeply devoted prayer life, one must pray.”

We’ve made prayer complicated and difficult and it has somehow become lost, as Crossman says, “in all kinds of theological technicalities, liturgical formalities, and religious language.”

If you have read and studied the Bible, you know that Jesus began each day in prayer. In Mark 1:35, he tells us, “Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed.”

Do you think Jesus’ prayers to His Abba Father were elaborate? I doubt it. In Matthew 6, Jesus goes right to the heart of prayer when He says, “When you pray, do not use a lot of meaningless words, as the pagans do, who think that their gods will hear them because their prayers are long. Do not be like them.”

In his book on prayer, Richard Foster says, “What I am trying to say is that God receives us just as we are and accepts our prayers just as they are. In the same way that a small child cannot draw a bad picture so a child of God cannot offer a bad prayer.”

If we can’t offer a bad prayer, why do so many Christians not pray? Here are some reasons (excuses) I came across and my replies:

“I don’t have time.” You must make time. It’s a discipline, just like anything else—if you want it badly enough.

“God never answers my prayers anyway.” God has answered more of my prayers than I ever thought possible. Praying and waiting requires patience and perseverance.

“I don’t know how to pray.” Prayer is simply a conversation with God. You also have to listen more than you speak.

“Why would God want to hear from me anyway?” Because you are His child, He wants to hear from you. He loves you so much He gave His only Son for you.

“If I pray, God might want me to change.” Yes, He does. Prayer does that. It changes the one who prays.

We can come to God in simple prayer, knowing He hears our concerns. We don’t have to pretend to be holy or pure, we just have to be authentic.

Don’t forget to leave me a comment  below. Coming soon: Carol’s new book, “Sola Fide: by FAITH alone.”

What does prayer mean to you?

“This, then, is how you should pray:“‘Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.'” Matthew 6:8-10 (NIV)

When they asked how, Jesus taught his disciples to pray. The Lord’s Prayer, found in Matthew 6:8-14, reveals our Savior’s heart. What does prayer mean to you? Do you think it’s a mysterious practice reserved for the religiously devout?

Prayer is simply a conversation with your Abba Father. Minister and author, Josh McDowell, has this to say about prayer: “Prayer is talking with God. God knows your heart and is not so concerned with your words as He is with the attitude of your heart.”

For some, even Christians, prayer has become an afterthought, done only while sitting in a church pew, at the dinner table or beside a child’s bed before sleep. Sometimes, prayer is offered as a wish of one’s heartfelt desire with expectations of God answering like a genie inside a magic lamp.

If you’re seeking an intimate, powerful transformation in your relationship with God, then your prayer life must be more than asking for things. Praying is not just setting aside a special time to spend with Him; it is an ongoing conversation with Him throughout your busy day. While you are at work, eating, conversing with others, waiting for appointments or on the run from one place to another, you can be in prayer. Thank Him continually for the blessings in your life, even the difficult times. They help you to grow closer to Him.

However, starting the day with Him is vital for your spiritual growth. When I sit down with my Bible and prayer journal each morning, I am consciously choosing to give Him the first part of my day. It’s the same principle as tithing. Giving Him the first fruits of your day reveals your priorities.

Prayer is a time to remind yourself that everything you are, and everything you have, comes through the power, grace and mercy of the one true God. Communion through prayer allows a deeper connection between His Word, His Holy Spirit and yourself, allowing seeds of faith to be firmly planted within your being.

How does a conversation with God begin? Get quiet. Seek a special place where you can open your mind, soul and spirit to what He has to say to you, both in that still, small voice, and within the pages of your Bible. Seeking Him requires you to listen more than you speak. Ask Him to reveal Himself to you. Remember what Josh McDowell said, “God knows your heart and is not so concerned with your words as He is with the attitude of your heart.”

It’s about your heart connection to the One who loves you more than life itself. We must remember that it’s not about you and it’s not about me. It’s about God and His will. Then, you will realize that your prayers will touch the heart of the One for whom nothing is impossible.

More posts on prayer:

12 Ways to Jump-Start Prayer

9 Tips from Jesus on Prayer

Instantly Answered

Let’s Pray for Our President

5 Ways to Grow Your Faith