“Don’t be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.”
How do you get to know someone? You spend time with them. You talk with them. You ask them questions. You listen to them. They listen to you. You form a relationship with them. Another word for relationship is….prayer. Matthew 6:9…”This the is how you should pray” and what follows is The Lord’s Prayer.
Most people think of prayer as a petition, asking something from God. And this is a part of prayer but it’s not the only part. Prayer is simply talking with God, listening to Him, being in His presence. Think of prayer as ACTS…adoration (telling God what you think of Him), confession (you realize without God, you’re nothing), thanksgiving (thanking God for who He is & what He’s done in your life) & supplication (this is the petition part). You don’t have to do all 4 of these things every time.
Some people say if God knows what I want, why do I have to pray about it? Well, you’re putting prayer down to only petition. Remember, prayer is having a relationship with God, not just asking things of Him. Sometimes you may just want to be in His presence, other times you may want to just be appreciative of what He’s done for you, other times you may just want to talk with Him like with your spouse, sometimes you just send up ‘arrow’ prayers (one sentence prayers), etc.
God guides us thru getting to know Him better. We experience His peace thru prayer, it can release forgiveness. Prayer is not trying to get God to agree with us but we can tell Him how we feel about something. Prayer is not like a slot machine, where you put something in, in hopes of getting something out.
Remember, God acting in your life is a process, it takes time. One good way to begin is by having regular quiet time with God. Choose a place where you can be alert & alone. Psalms is a good place to go to for meditation.
“….I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it”
Most people react negatively to the word ‘church’ because of a negative reaction to it when they were younger.
The Greek word for church is ‘ecclessia’ and it means “the called out ones”. Notice that it doesn’t mean a building where we meet or an organization like a denomination ,though there are Christians in these groups. (Talk about circles of Christians, Methodists, Baptists, etc…there are some Christians in Methodism, Baptists, etc…but people who are Buddhists, hinduists, Mormons, JW’s, etc are out of the circle altogether.) In the church there are some Methodists, some Baptists, etc but there are no Buddhists, no hinduists, no Muslums, etc.
People who are part of the ‘Church’ are those who have placed their trust in Jesus, those who have asked Jesus into their hearts and continue to live for Him. But what are we called out from and what are we called out to? We are called out from a worldly system that denies the wonderful truth about Jesus Christ. We are called to actively serve Jesus by acting out what He said to do thru serving people. This can entail telling people about how to be ‘saved’, telling them what the Bible says about certain issues, ministering to the people God has commanded us to (like the poor, the disadvantaged, the intellectual, the scientist…just everyday people God has put into our path).
The church is not an organization, it’s an organism, a living thing. The church is the body of Christ—1Cor 12:12-27. Some of us are an arm, some of us are a leg, some of us are an underarm, but we are all of equal value before God and each part is absolutely necessary. There are a variety of spiritual gifts, like teaching, evangelizing, cleaning toilets (the gift of service), healing, administration, helping, generosity, etc.
Why do I need ‘church’?
1…to help you become more like Christ. This can be done only in the context of relationships. Other believers can help us in the maturing process.
2…to help you walk thru life’s problems. What organization helps you thru life’s problems? Look at divorce care, grief care, child care, soup kitchens, orphanages or friends just walking thru life with you.
3…to help you do the things God has gifted you to do…1st Corinthians 12:7-11
4…for corporate worship, prayer & teaching. These are catalysts for learning & change in our lives.