6. a. Jesus on the subject of long prayers in public: Don’t imitate the hypocrites by making a show of praying in front of others. Those who do, have already received their reward.
b. Don’t imitate the pagans by babbling on and on. (Many versions translate this as “vain repetitions”—saying the same thing over and over again) There is the sense that asking for the same thing over and over again assumes that God isn’t listening or it’s up to us to make sure He does.
c. I’ve made a study of what the Bible has to say about prayer, but it’s amazing how I need to be reminded to go back to the basics over and over again. I can and do complicate everything.
In His own prayers, Jesus poured out His emotions before God. Rather than pour out my worry, fear, concerns. and frustrations to family and friends, I’m convicted to take those to God. I want to exchange my feelings for His. I want to spread His love, mercy and compassion rather than some silly agenda I came up with.
7. The sample prayer Jesus gives reminds us to…
- recognize and acknowledge who God is,
- keep our hearts clean before Him and others so that our line of communication is static free,
- take life one day at a time, and
- avoid temptation by asking Him to lead us and delivers us from the evil one.
8. a. I feel like I already answered this question.
b. Regarding Luke 18:1-8, I never noticed before that it essentially about justice. The poor and the early church dealt with intimidation and persecution by the religious and civil courts. We are seeing that today as well.
At face value, there appears to be some discrepancy between avoiding vain repetitions and being heard when we cry out to God day and night. Then there’s the ask, seek, and knock passage.
However, as I think this through, the vain repetitions probably relate to a religious practice rather than a repeated cry of the heart. The last phrase, “However, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth?”, causes me to wonder if we ask for the same thing over and over because we don’t yet have faith that God heard us and will answer. Something to ponder…
c. Finding a time and place to be alone with God is a challenge I face every day. I am seldom home alone, and our schedules are erratic. My favorite way to pray is walking around inside my house or some other building with the lights dimmed. I seem to keep my mind focused better. I’ve tried praying outside, but I just start pulling weeds or something.
My second choice is prayer journaling. I’ve kept journals since I was old enough to write, but in 1993 I read I’m Listening, Lord by Marilyn Willett Heavilin. The book is no longer in print, but Amazon has used copies.
Another book I read more recently—Sacred Pauses by April Yamasaki—suggests a number of spiritual practices readers can employ to find renewal and refreshment in small ways throughout our busy days. Before reading it, I felt guilty—a lot! I also had complained about how busy I am. Now, I’m enjoying increased fellowship with the Lord throughout the day. And more peace. (Journaling is one of her suggestions.)