Preparing to Pray

-Pray to Your Father
-Come with Confidence
-Remember God is Holy

One day , while Jesus' disciples were watching him pray, they said to him: "Lord, teach us to pray."
In some ways this was a strange thing to ask. These men had been praying ever since they were children. Their mothers and fathers and teachers in the Synagogue would have taught them to pray. But they seem to have seen in Jesus a kind of prayer they had not experienced before.
    Jesus had given them the privilege of hearing him talk to Father:

        'I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth...'    (Matthew 11:25)
        'Father, I thank you for hearing my prayer. I know indeed that you always hear me..' (John 11:42)

And they had seen him at prayer- at his Baptism, early in the morning (Mark 1:35), late at night (Matthew 14:23), sometimes all through the night (Luke 6:12). They knew that his relationship with God was warm and close as well as reverent. In response to their request Jesus gave them a list of instructions which helped them to understand what prayer really means and how to go about it.

In this chapter we shall begin to look together at this teaching.

    ' When you pray' , Jesus told them, ' go into your room, close the door and pray to your father, who
      is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.' (Matthew 6:6)

All kinds of practical suggestions hide in this verse. The first is: find a prayer place.
In some ways, this suggestion is a strange one because Jesus himself once made it clear to his followers that he had no one place he could call home.

       ' Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay
         his head.' (Matthew 8:20)

Even so, Jesus practiced what he preached and found places where he could pray to his Father in secret:

          '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.'    (Mark 1:35)

Did he sit by the Sea of Galilee and watch the rising sun paint the world pink while he prayed? Or did he climb the hills and find a place to pray on the grassy slopes? We know that, when he was in Galilee, he went often to the hills to pray:

      '...he went up into the hills by himself to pray. When evening came, he was there alone.'
                                                                                                              (Matthew 14:22,23)
           ' Jesus went out into the hills to pray, and spent the night praying to God.'        (Luck 6:12)

And when he was in Jerusalem, we know that he used to go often to the Garden of the Gethseman to meet with his Father. That is why Judas knew where to find him on the night before he was crucified.

    Like Jesus, many Christians today have no room where they can go to be alone with God. They have to find another place. I think of the Christians I once talked to in Singapore. One girl lived in a small flat with nine other members of her family. When I asked her where she prayed she said: ' I sit under a tree on my way to bus stop each morning. That's where I meet God.' Another said, 'I go to the office really early and have my Quiet Time with God before anyone else arrives.'

    These testimonies helped me to realise that people who really want to pray will find a place where they can meet with God in secret. They find a place because Jesus suggested that they should. Then they discover the value of his prayer place. When we pray in the same place every day for weeks and months and years  we visit it with a sense of expectancy that God will, indeed, meet with us.  Very often his presence can be felt there in all it's power and holiness. There we discover him assuring us that he is anxious to listen to us and to speak to us.

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