09-14-2014 Preparing Our Hearts for Worship: A House of Prayer

Well, the Pumpkin Festival was as exciting as ever -- even moreso because it was Olivia Andrews’ first time watching a parade, and that’s just a blast to be part of.  The All-Church Retreat also went well this past weekend, with Gweneth Schwab leading everyone in a poignant time of sharing about where they’ve seen God at work in their lives.

On Sunday, we continued looking at the Renaissance in our Church History class, and added a few new faces to our FCCers involved.  But this coming Sunday, we’re taking a break from History to host our missionaries to China.  They’ll have a fun, interactive session during our Sunday School hour, and then will have the opportunity to share a bit more in the service, then on a completely different level during our potluck lunch after the service.  Please do come join us, if you can, and learn more about their ministry in Shanxi.

In the service, we shared about the upcoming 40 Days for Life campaign, lifting up the needs of those contemplating performing or receiving any of the 1 million + abortions that are performed in the United States every year.  Too often, we either ignore the problem or politically protest the problem, but too many of us ever get onto our knees to address the root, spiritual issues that create the problem in the first place.  So please consider taking a half hour, just once during that 40-day period, to lift up our nation, the doctors and nurses, and the families represented by every abortion that’s being contemplated, and lay them down before the Lord.  A sign-up sheet is available in the Narthex.

That dovetailed nicely into what we were talking about in our message this week.  As we continue to look at Preparing Our Hearts for Worship, we looked at the priority and the understanding of prayer.

Most of us have learned to pray by closing our eyes and bowing our heads, and that’s fine.  But sometimes, we’re told to lift up our faces and hands in prayer, and that’s fine, too.  Sometimes in Scripture, prayers are quiet and solemn.  But sometimes, they’re loud and raucous.  So which is the right way to pray?

The truth is, prayer -- like any personal communication -- reflects the relationship that you have with the individual you’re talking with.  Do you feel close to God, or distant?  Do you feel reverent, or chummy?  Do you have much of a relationship with God at all, or is He just there to give you what you’re asking Him for?

How you pray is dependent on what you’re trying to accomplish, and why you’re trying to accomplish it.  What honors God is not checking off this stylistic box or that one, or using eloquent words or colloquialisms, or any of that.  What honors God is the conscious desire to honor God; what gives Him joy is the conscious desire to spend quality time with Him; etc.

So why not start your next prayer time off by asking God to help you -- today -- to be transformed by the renewing of your mind and your perspectives, and not to be simply beaten into the shape of the everyday, humdrum world we live in.  Start by asking Him to help you accurately see what kind of a relationship you’ve developed with Him, and to see both the good parts and the parts that probably need some work.  Maybe take a hint from the “Lord’s Prayer” and start by asking God to help you balance seeing Him as your Lord and as your Dad -- a healthy respect, and a healthy intimacy, intertwined.  But start by getting your heart right with Him, and build the “how” of your prayer life based on the “why” of your relationship with Him.