"Lord, teach us to pray." This is the request of Jesus' first disciples, and it is meant to be ours, as well. I believe we are wired to long for something beyond us. The writer of Ecclesiastes (3:11) says, God "has...set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end." Some have attempted to explain religion and faith away by evolutionary means. That is, they believe that the idea of God is merely a projection of individual's hopes in order to explain a chaotic, meaningless world. However, I believe the better solution is that God has made us in his image and that we cry out for our Creator.

Prayer is a cry for help, for salvation, for hope, for purpose...for God. Moreover, the Bible tells us that not only does God hear our prayers, but he longs for us to call out to Him! Jesus put it this way, “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.  For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened." (Matthew 7:7-8) God wants us to rely on him. While it may appear that he is playing hide and seek, the truth is God wants to be found!

Part of being made in the image of God is this need for deep connection with our Creator. Since he is personal, it makes sense that we would long for a personal relationship with him, as well as with those around us. Thus, prayer is not merely an exercise in getting what we want or getting our needs met--though God longs to meet our needs and even give us the desires of our hearts that align with his will--it is the development of a love relationship with our Father. Prayer is not about going through the motions or reciting a mantra that magically provides us with what we ask, as if we manipulate God into doing what we want. Prayer is about sharing our hearts openly with a God who loves us and who wants to reveal his heart to us.

As with any relationship, our relationship with God takes time and commitment. We need to hear from God, through the Bible, through the voice of his Spirit, and through the community of the Spirit (church); and we need to speak with God. This is a two-way relationship God has called us to. My hope is that you will join with me as we begin 2024 in developing a life of prayer. It may only start out with 5 minutes. That's OK! We all start somewhere. But, just as someone who now runs marathons had to start with a short jog around the block, you begin where you are. But here's the thing. Once you start on this journey, you will find that 5 or 10 minutes in prayer becomes far easier than you ever imagined! And, before you know it, you may find yourself longing to pray for much longer periods of time. Moreover, on those occasions when you miss your time spent with God, it may start to feel as if you have missed talking with your best friend.  God blesses those who take this step toward him!

Join us this Sunday as we talk about prayer and fasting and how God wants to use these two disciplines to mold and shape our hearts after his.

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