“And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. But when you pray, 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. And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.
- Matthew 6:5-8
With this in mind, we constantly pray for you, that our God may make you worthy of his calling, and that by his power he may bring to fruition your every desire for goodness and your every deed prompted by faith. We pray this so that the name of our Lord Jesus may be glorified in you, and you in him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ.
- 2 Thessalonians 1:11-12
“America is a nation founded and nurtured on prayer. However, according to a recent Pew Report, prayer in America has ‘gone rogue.’ In other words, anything goes: from spirit drumming to mystical chanting. People across the USA are praying, but most confess they are merely addressing ‘someone out there.’
“In 1787, about five weeks into the Constitutional Convention, the framers were frustrated in their attempts to draft the U. S. Constitution. Benjamin Franklin challenged them to return earnestly in prayer to God on behalf of their nation. He asked, ‘If a sparrow cannot fall to the ground without His notice, is it probable that an empire can rise without His aid? We have been assured that “except the Lord build the House, they labor in vain that build it.”’
“God is still shaping America’s future in the hearts of those who seek Him. Today, pray specifically for those blindly praying to ‘someone’ that they may discover the true identity of God’s Son, the Lord Jesus Christ; placing all hope for themselves, and for America, in His great power.”
- Presidential Prayer Team Devotion
Last Sunday, at a Bible study after church, someone asked who you should pray to. This person had been asked by others, and the way the question had been raised, it led to confusion.
In the first Scripture, Jesus tells us to pray to our Heavenly Father. Jesus said it. It must be so. But…
I think R. C. Sproul said it well that one piece of Scripture or another could be so wonderful if it were not for the ‘but…’ Then when Scripture mentions bad things, you have hope when you find the ‘but…’
Romans 8:26 states that the Holy Spirit will intercede with groanings. The verse says that we often do not know what to pray for, so the Holy Spirit, that enters us when we accept Jesus, groans for us when we are unable to express what is on our hearts. But we still pray to the Father. When we are at a loss for words, the Holy Spirit does some interpretation of the groaning of our heart.
When Jesus enters our hearts at the point of salvation, He remains there. The second Scripture states that the Apostle Paul and the others with him were praying for the church at Thessalonica ‘in the name of our Lord Jesus.’ But this is not praying to Jesus. This is acknowledging that if Jesus had not died on the cross for our sins, we would have no conduit to God to make any entreaties. It is in the name of Jesus, who resides in our hearts, that we have that line of communication with God.
The “but…” regarding who to pray to, that I have a little difficulty with, is having Jesus in my heart and knowing that He is with me all the time. It seems natural to simply come to a crossroads, and ask, “Jesus, which way shall I turn?”
Is that wrong? It hardly seems so. But I could have asked the Father? I could also praise and thank the Father for the guidance of the Holy Spirit. They may be three persons, but they are all one God.
But the devotion is very telling about the state of the US regarding prayer. As in our beliefs, the average American, even claiming to be Christian, will do anything to find their ‘higher power’ except doing what the Bible teaches.
Let’s look at Jeroboam, son of Nebat. In 1 Kings 11, Jeroboam rebels against Solomon. He runs away to Egypt when his rebellion is quelled. But then Solomon dies, and Rehoboam sets himself up as king. Jeroboam returns. The northern tribes rebel against Rehoboam and establish Jeroboam as king of the ten northern tribes.
Just one problem. To worship God, the temple is in Jerusalem. They just rebelled against the people who hold Jerusalem. But Jeroboam has an idea. He builds golden calves. Does Aaron and Mount Sinai come to mind? One was erected in Bethel and the other in Dan. He established priests, not of the line of Levi, to worship to the calves. (1 Kings 12)
It was practically the first decision Jeroboam made. Let’s turn our backs on God. America is doing the same thing.
In The Shack, Wm. Paul Young gives the name, Sarayu, to the Holy Spirit. I agreed with much of his theology in the conversations between God and Mack, but the blending a Hindu deity with Christianity smacks of universalism. There is only one Way to the Father and that is through the Son. There is no other way.
Can we add some drumming or spinning or twirling to our prayers? Why? Does becoming dizzy get you closer to God? Where did the drumming and mystical chanting come from? Possibly from worship of other gods. How did Jeroboam get the idea of a golden calf? Hmmm. He had just returned from Egypt? Maybe? We need only to talk and pour out our hearts to God. Nothing more needs to be added.
My wife often lights a candle to signify that she is going to be spending the next bit of time in prayer with her Heavenly Father. It’s like turning on the light outside your film development lab. Sorry, dating myself a bit. But it is also a reminder that she needs to stay focused. She has the phone off, but there is always the doorbell or other distraction. With the candle lit, she knows she wasn’t finished. She is not praying to the candle. She is not breathing in the aroma, thinking that the aroma is God’s power entering her. It is simply a signal that all else ceases, except prayer, until the candle goes out. If she prayed to the candle, she enters the wrong path. If she felt that the candle had to be lit or God would not hear her… Wrong again. The candle has no power other than the few calories of heat that are released as it burns.
The first Scripture above precedes the Lord’s Prayer. It is the guide, from Jesus, in telling us how to pray. Sometimes we do a lousy job, but that is where the Holy Spirit steps in to translate.
The worst mistake is to not pray.
Soli Deo Gloria. Only to God be the Glory.