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Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Today’s Reading | Matthew 6:7–15           

“When you are praying, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do; for they think that they will be heard because of their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.

“Pray then in this way: Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come. Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And do not bring us to the time of trial, but rescue us from the evil one. For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you; but if you do not forgive others, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.” (NRSV)

Have you ever struggled to find the words to pray? Or wonder why it is important to pray? I had a fairly long season in life when I had no relationship with God. After many heartfelt discussions with a few close friends, I felt deep down in my gut that I needed that relationship in my life—and that terrified me. I never felt that I was very good at prayer. My words were always awkward and lacked the eloquence of prayers that I had heard on Sunday mornings for so many years. I had also believed for so long that my prayers from years before had gone unanswered. I felt that I had been deserted by God. Those hang-ups, coupled with the fear of opening up communication with God, weighed heavily on me.

One fall afternoon, while with a friend, I finally found the courage to say a prayer out loud to God. It was a very powerful moment, filled with all sorts of emotions, a lot of tears, and a huge sense of relief. I had broken down the wall that I had built to keep God out but needed a lot of guidance on how to pray.

In this passage, Jesus gives us a good pattern for our own prayer life. It reminds us to praise God, to pray for God’s work in our world, and to pray for our daily needs and strength during struggles. It gives me a good balance between praising God and placing requests before God. My conversations with God may still be clumsy, but I am comforted by the fact that God knows exactly what I need even before I ask.

Gracious God, thank you for your gift of prayer. Help me to rejoice always, pray continually, and give thanks to you in all circumstances. Amen.

Written by Briana Belding-Peck, Family Ministry Coordinator

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