The prayers of the Bible provide significant information about the nature of God and a variety of reasons why Christians pray. During the Call for Fire Seminar last month at Leavenworth Church of Christ in Leavenworth, Kansas, we studied prayers that gave us insight as to why people pray, what ethics and lifestyle have to do with prayer, and how prayer is much more than a request line to God. We also sang songs of prayer throughout the weekend, reinforcing in our minds how our songs of worship express in profoundly meaningful ways the nature of our relationship with God. The Saturday morning devotional provided opportunity for sharing of prayer requests and increased understanding of powerful lyrics in hymns of prayer.
We had a spiritually enriching weekend of Bible study, prayer, and singing. Prayer begins with recognition that God is, and that he is worthy of worship. Biblical prayers often begin with praise, although prayers of lament sometimes begin in anger or confusion about what a person believes God has done or permitted. Occasionally, prayers in the Bible ask God to remember promises he has made or experiences that people who worshiped him had in the past. Prayer may intercede on behalf of other people. Prayer may ask for fulfillment of needs or desires, including healing of illness. People of God ask for forgiveness from God, remembering their own responsibility to forgive other people. They recall that vengeance is God’s responsibility, not our own. When we pray, we ask as Jesus did that we be given the resources to overcome temptation. Some prayers in the Bible are long; others are very short. Some are offered privately; others apparently were intended to be spoken or sung as a congregation. Prayer must be sincere and intentional, not the reciting of familiar words without thought. I encourage you to review prayers in the Bible as you think about what you will pray. My postings in the Call for Fire Seminar blog and Facebook page may help you. Pray often, pray intensely, and pray with integrity.
Several people who normally do much of the work preparing for or during events at the Leavenworth church were not able to do so that weekend. Other members, many of them young adults and teenagers, stepped into the breach and excelled in their service to the congregation. They organized childcare, brought food for the fellowship dinner, led singing, folded and distributed advertisements for the event, and managed the sound system. They welcomed visitors, worked at the registration table, and cleaned up after the fellowship dinner. Their serving makes the future of the congregation look bright.
I enjoyed teaching the concepts that I write about in the blog. In a Call for Fire Seminar, we dig into biblical prayers and teaching about prayer. We sing prayers that often we fail to realize are prayers. During a seminar, we begin each session with a song of prayer, and take time to consider what we have prayed together. My plan is to lead two or three seminars a year while I continue my local church ministry and writing. I ask that you pray for the hearts of many people to be turned to the Lord as a result of this work.
The power of your word awakens our hearts and stings our consciences, O Lord. When we peer into its pages as into a mirror, we see ourselves so much more clearly. We may wish for spiritual cosmetics, but only you can transform us into a true reflection of your glory. Grant us the humility to heed your message and to learn from the example of spiritual pioneers ho have blazed the trail before us. As we read prayers offered by people of faith from the Bible, help us to discern rightly how their prayers can teach us how about how people off faith communicate with you and how their prayers can guide us in forming our own prayers as we call upon you. In Jesus’s name, amen.