John 16-18, Psalm 110
I met my wife 39 years ago, and have been married for 37 years. I thank God daily for her and the relationship we share. How well do you think our marriage would have done if every day I chose not to really communicate with her but instead recited the same words daily, many of those words in Old English. I could say, "Lovely wife, fairest of all maidens, bearer of our children, ...,etc.". Imagine I said nothing else but this daily or once a week on Sunday, but chose to say nothing else. How long do you believe our relationship would last, maybe one day? Prayer is the primary way for the believer in Jesus Christ to communicate his emotions and desires with God and to fellowship with God. God never wanted religiosity or pious sounding words, He so desired a real relationship with us that He sent His Son to suffer and die for us to enable it. Yet, growing up the only prayers I ever said were: the Lord's Prayer, the Nicene Creed, the Apostles Creed, etc. Not that I ever really thought about what I was saying, but I was fairly proud of myself when I had them all memorized and could recite them without the prayer book. This was the extent of my communication with God. Many times when doing hospital rounds, my Orthodox patients are rapidly saying their Psalms at a speed way to fast to comprehend, yet they will motion for me to leave the room so that they don't lose their rhythm.
In John 17, we see perhaps the most beautiful prayer in all of Scripture, from the lips of Jesus, Himself. In it we see Him pouring out His heart to His Father, One who He shared a true relationship with. In it we see He prays for Himself, for His disciples, then for all believers. We see in John 17:3, He says, "And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent." We read in 17:9,11,13,15 and 17, "I pray for them...keep through Your name those whom You have given Me, that they may be one as We are...that they may have My joy fulfilled in themselves...that You should keep them from the evil one...Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth." Such deep concern and love He had for His disciples that He communicated to His Father. He goes on in 17:20-21, to pray for us, "I do not pray for these alone, but also for those who will believe in Me through their word; that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me."
In Matthew 6, Jesus instructs His disciples how NOT to pray. In Matthew 6:5, He says, "And when you pray, you shall not be like the hypocrites. For they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the corners of the streets, that they may be seen by men. Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward." In Matthew 6:7, He says, "And when you pray, do not use vain repetitions as the heathen do. For they think that they will be heard for their many words." So, when we pray privately are we opening our hearts to One we truly love and enjoy a true relationship with. Are we coming to Him with vain repetitions or laundry lists of requests. This would not work in any earthly relationship. When we pray publicly with others are we communicating with Him or concerning ourselves, focusing on our words so that they sound pious to those around us. We have a Father who truly loves us and deeply desires a true relationship with us , His children. Prayer should be a sweet time of fellowship daily with the One that we love.
Messages from Pastor Lloyd Pulley: