Thursday, October 3, 2013

Open Skies- Part 1

This week at WNW we began a new series for the month of October called "Open Skies".  We have been challenging the students to spend time in prayer at school and with others over the past weeks as we had See You At The Pole and Global Week of Prayer.  We have talked about the importance of prayer, but still sometimes there remains confusion surrounding the subject.  Sometimes our relationship with God may seem cloudy and it seems there is a barrier between us which is usually because of a lack of prayer in our own lives.  So during this series we hope to clear out the confusion about prayer and help students develop a daily time of prayer so they can clear the barriers between them and God.  

We opened the night with a worship set that included "Song of Hope" (Robbie Seay Band), "I Believe" (Jason Castro), and "Here For You" (Passion).  I began the message asking for some of the excuses that we use for not praying.  Some answers included:  too busy, forget, prayed up, etc.  We often make excuses to why we do not pray, but then we are frustrated that we are not growing in our relationship with God.  Then sometimes we use prayer as a last resort when we seem desperate.

We read Matthew 6:9-13 which is known as the Lord's Prayer.  I then shared a little background about the passage.  This is a moment where Jesus is teaching on several subjects.  If you cross-reference this passage and look at Luke 11:1 you will see that one of His disciples asked Jesus to teach them to pray.  It is important to note that Jesus begins in verse 9 "Pray, then, in this way."  He does not say "When you pray, repeat this." This is intended as a model prayer and not intended to be repeated liturgical as it has become.  We discussed how this is often repeated as a team before games, but with no realization as to what is being repeated.

We then looked at the Who, What, Why, and Where of prayer
-Verse 9 tells us that we are praying to God the Father.  That seems simple, but sometimes we really forget that and approach prayer too casually.  We forget that we are approaching the God of the universe, who holds the universe in His hands.  He is the one who speaks stars into existence.  He in any moment can create and can destroy.  We forget that we need to approach Him with reverence and respect.  However, we can also approach Him freely as He loves us more than we can imagine.

-What to pray for often comes across as the easy part as we all have our mile-long spiritual wish list.  We know all the things we want to ask God for, but it must be more than that.
-First of all we need spend our prayer time in praising God for who He is and what He has done for us.  Nearly 75% of all prayers in the Bible are prayers of praise.  We read in verse 9 that Jesus says "Hallowed be Your name."  This means that there is no other like God.  He is holy and sacred unlike anyone or anything else.  The question we must ask is how much of our prayers are spent in worship?
-Second, we must ask for God to provide "our daily bread."  This is more than just food itself.  We are asking that God provides just enough for us each day, and nothing more.  Yet if more is provided, then we should pass it along to those in need.  We pray that God will provide enough food, finances, peace, wisdom, etc. to make it through the day.
-Third, we must ask for forgiveness.  Verse 12 points us to this, but we ask forgiveness of our sins with the understanding that we have forgiven anyone who has hurt us.
-Fourth, we must pray for strength against temptation as in verse 13.  We pray that God will keep us safe from temptation, but whenever temptation is presented that we will be wise enough to turn away.

-I think this is one of the most misunderstood areas when it comes to pray.  Many people think that the purpose of prayer is to change the mind of God, which is not possible.  Instead, the purpose of prayer is to change us.  Verse 10 says "Your will be done."  This means that we become completely dependent on God.  As we pray, His desires become our desires, and His will for our lives become our own.  Not the other way around.  We must become dependent on Him through prayer.

-We read in Matthew 6:6 and Matthew 14:23 that Jesus teaches with words and by example that we need to get alone often to pray.  If Jesus needed to do this then so it is necessary for us also.  It is a great thing to gather with others to pray, but if that is the only time we spend in prayer then we are missing out.  We must spend some time alone in prayer to fully connect to the power source that is God.

We closed in a time of prayer and reflection.  I challenged the students to search their hearts to what their excuses are for not praying.  The reality is that any excuse we make for not praying is invalid.  I challenged them to realize the excuses they make, to throw them away, and commit to spending daily time in prayer with God.

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