What is prayer? When should we pray? Where should we pray? How should we pray? How you answer those questions depends of course, on what you believe about God and what you believe about his attitude toward us. Those of us who claim to be followers of Jesus and who know even a little bit of the Bible will say that we can and should pray any time, all the time, anywhere and everywhere about everything. But even those who are not interested in God and don’t believe that he is interested in us will say that prayer is a good thing and appropriate in some situations.
Our whole nation was rocked once again by the news yesterday of the horrific killing and injuring by the shooter in Roseburg. One of the news stations here in Portland showed many of the Twitter posts that were coming in. Nearly every one of them said they were praying for the victims and their families, and for the police and the medical personnel who were dealing with the crisis. “Our prayers go out to you” or “You are in our prayers” or “Our prayers are with you” were typical statements.
Most people seem to believe that prayer is appropriate and even necessary in times of crisis, tragedy, and trauma, and it certainly is. However, I find myself wondering if the prayer they’re talking about is the same prayer that the Bible talks about. They are expressing a very sincere and empathetic sentiment: “I feel for you and I care about you and I hope things get better for you.” But are they going before our Father in heaven and pleading for His grace and mercy and comfort and indeed His very presence to become real to those who are suffering? Certainly we who know the Father in heaven should be praying like that.
The kind of prayer that the Bible talks about is the subject of the next five Sunday sermons. The series is called “Conversations with the Creator” and we will be looking at Jesus’ teaching on prayer as well as a few of the prayers of godly men that are recorded in the Bible. I am learning that my understanding of true prayer is deficient and inadequate and I’m pretty sure I’m not alone in that. I hope you’ll be here every week to help us become a church that experiences the power of prayer.