“The Very Best Place to Pray”

How’s your prayer life been going lately? 

Prayer is probably the single most talked about topic among 21st Century Christians, and yet it’s also one of the most misunderstood and puzzling aspects of our faith lives. 

In 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18, the Apostle Paul tells us to “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” It seems that prayer should be something we should be doing all the time … anywhere and everywhere we are. And yet, many of us are still not sure exactly what prayer consists of and how we should be doing it. 

We learn to pray before bedtime as a child, and to pray before meals as an adult. We learn to pray the Lord’s Prayer in church, and most of us have our very special personal prayers that we go to, like when we really need our favorite team to win a big game, or sometimes to get through the stoplight before it changes or to find the open parking spot closest to the Kroger door. 

While those prayers, like all prayers, are a good way to reach out to God, I’m convinced that Paul had something else in mind when he told us to pray unceasingly. So let’s take a new look at prayer and find out what prayer can really mean for our faith lives. 

Most importantly, prayer is personal. It’s a way for you, just as you are, to open up to the presence of God in your life in whatever circumstances you may be in. Think of those times when you just received a phone call about an accident that someone you love deeply has been involved in. It’s almost an instinct to start praying immediately. To reach out to God in that moment and connect with the power and peace of God that is greater than any other power on earth. We want to make sure God is with us, and to know that God can get us through anything that might happen … and especially for God to be there for the person we love, so that they may feel God’s presence and receive God’s healing power and comfort. 

Those are sincere prayers! They come from the very depth of our hearts and we feel God in our soul, as if we could carry on a conversation with God just like we can with anybody else. Often times, when we pray like this, we are scared, worried, or heartbroken. That’s a perfect time to come to God in prayer. God loves our prayers of fear and worry, because God alone has the power to embrace us in our fear and calm our worry. There are times when I pray that I can literally feel God holding me, lifting me, and even carrying me. 

God also loves a heart that’s breaking. We have a God of “amazing grace” that will never let the ways of this world and the hurt it can cause become greater than the good that God can make of it. Every time we face a loss, or a challenge, or feel like we are falling off a cliff, prayer can assure us that God is always there with us, and that, in the end, God will turn our curses in this world into blessings. God never fails. God’s power reminds us that our faith is stronger than any fear, and that God has already conquered death, so that no matter what happens, life will continue into eternity. 

  Our problem seems to be that we only prayer like this when we are in our most desperate place. We cry out to God when we believe that there’s no place else to go. It’s almost as if our best prayers are our “last resort” prayers. But if we are called to pray unceasingly, doesn’t that mean we should always be desperate? And, surprisingly, the answer to that is yes! We should always be desperate for God. 

However, most of the time in our daily lives, we do not feel desperate for God. We know God is there, because we believe in God. But we don’t reach out to God until we really need help … until we’re desperate.  

The truth is, for each and every one of us – whether you’re a Christian or a follower of another faith tradition, or a nonbeliever …. we are all desperate for more God in our lives. We are fooling ourselves when we think we only need God in the most desperate times, and thus we are fooling ourselves when our prayers of desperation come only at those times when we feel most helpless.

I’d like to propose, that if you really want to get close to God and have a relationship with God that is full and life-changing, then get desperate for God all the time! All through the New Testament, the truth is repeated that alone we can do nothing, but with God anything is possible. Have you ever considered that the reason you feel empty sometimes, or unmotivated, or lost, is because you are doing things that aren’t for God or of God. I catch myself leaving God behind almost daily! And then I pray! And I confess that, once again, I’ve left God out of my life and rushed off and started doing things for myself.  

But when I come back to God, pray for God’s help and guidance, ask for a sign or a vision, then I feel calm, and strong, and move ahead with a sense of purpose and even invincibility. Oh, I know that it’s not me that gives me this purpose or invincibility – it’s God. And my prayer … personal and sincere … has brought me back to the reality of my own daily desperation. 

Let me propose how to pray like this more often. 

Whenever you pray … wherever you are … whatever you are doing … stop and ask God to take you to the foot of the cross. Picture yourself walking up the dusty path toward the cross that Jesus has been crucified on. As you get closer, you can begin to see Jesus on that cross, waiting just for you. As you get close enough, Jesus can see you, and He looks right at you. At first, you fear this glance, but then you realize that Jesus is looking at you with a divine love that only He can give to you. 

  He is on that cross for you. It is the single most sacrificial act of love that anyone has ever done for you. Now, as you come to the cross, directly beneath the feet of Jesus, you kneel. You are submitting yourself to His love, and to the power of God to overcome anything and everything this world can throw at you. 

Kneeling at the foot of the cross is your new prayer place. When you come to the foot of the cross, everything in this world changes. It’s no longer a world where you have to struggle and survive on your own. It’s now God’s world, like it always has been, and with God, you know that anything is possible, and that everything works for good. 

You can tell Jesus everything at the cross. You can ask for anything at the cross. Just by your being there, you have shown your faith in Him, and when you pray in faith, God always answers, according to God’s will … which is always best. 

So, how’s your prayer life been going lately? 

Let me suggest a new prayer place — at the foot of the cross. You can go there right now. Jesus is always there, ready to hear your prayer and show you His love. Praying at the foot of the cross is the very best place to pray … no matter where you are.  

Peace, Love & Prayer,

Pastor Bob <><