God wants to hear about our concerns
The Rev. Maria Campbell, pastor, Central United Methodist Church, 1501 Mass.:
God wants you to pray. God has revealed throughout the Bible that God wants to be in relationship with us.
In prayer, we communicate with God through speaking and listening. Sometimes we become concerned that we bring too many requests to God. We even wonder if God is too busy to listen to us when there are catastrophic events in the universe. We fear that we sound selfish because our needs seem insignificant in the face of disease and natural disasters.
We must remember that these are human concerns and there is no limit to God's ability and power to act to bring about good for us. Throughout history, God has repeatedly demonstrated that God cares for us and desires to participate in our daily lives.
The good news is that we have proof that God wishes to hear from us. God wants us to express all of our cares and troubles.
Scripture tells us, "Do not worry about anything, but in prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God (Philippians 4:6)." There is no qualifier on which requests are worthy to be heard. If we offer our prayers to God, "the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard [our] hearts and minds" (Philippians 4:7).
God created us to flourish and to live productive lives in which we love God and others as God loves us. God does not want us to spend our lives absorbed in doubt and fear. How often should you pray? "Pray without ceasing (1 Thessalonians 5:17)."
What should you pray about? Everything! God invites you to bring it all to God in prayer.
- Send e-mail to Maria Campbell at email@example.com.
Self-consciousness detracts from prayer
Paul Taylor, associate pastor, Mustard Seed Christian Fellowship, 700 Wakarusa Drive:
This is a great question that deserves an honest response. There is a tendency early in our Christian development to focus on our needs, wants and desires; not unlike a human baby - it's all about us.
As we mature as Christians, we will find our prayers becoming less focused on ourselves and gradually more concerned about the needs of others.
However, whenever we go through crisis, we will find the focus of our prayers back on our needs. This is only natural because God wants us to pray about everything that concerns us. 1 Thessalonians 5:17 challenges us to "pray continually," while Psalms 62:8 says to "pour out your hearts to him." Selfish prayers or not, God would rather have us praying instead of being too self-conscious that we are becoming a "prayer piggie."
Now God is a good father who is committed to our spiritual nurture and maturity. Once we finally believe that God hears our prayers, cares about the things that affect us, we become more secure. Out of that sense of security, our prayer life will grow to maturity. We will find ourselves automatically praying more for the needs of others.
I am convinced we put self-imposed limits on prayer that God never intended. We wonder if we have been "good enough" to have our prayers listened to. Depending on how we feel about ourselves will determine if we pray. God wants to develop a personal relationship with us with prayer as a key component. My advice? Pray, pray and, when in doubt, pray some more. Get honest; get gut-level with God. Give prayer a chance to do what nothing else can do.
- Send e-mail to Paul Taylor at Pastmedic@sunflower.com.