Prayer is both talking to God and listening to God.

There are many ways to pray and many occasions for praying. The early followers of Jesus asked him to teach them how to pray; and in response, Jesus gave them a prayer, what we now call The Lord’s Prayer or the Our Father. It is the best of all prayers, and Christian people have been praying this prayer in public and in private from the very first years of the Christian movement (some 2000 years ago!). Most congregations pray it together, in unison, when they gather for worship; we do that at Providence each Sunday morning.

Most Christians memorize the prayer:

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.
Forgive us our sins,
as we forgive those who sin against us.
Lead us not into temptation
but deliver us from evil.
Yours is the kingdom, the power,
and the glory forever.
Amen.

This prayer functions as a guide to prayer, but also as a summary of what we believe as Christians and also of how we are to live.

There are many other wonderful prayers in the Bible, good for us to pray during times in our own lives when we need help or direction or just want to give thanks. Jesus told a story of a man who prayed,

 

“Lord, be merciful to me a sinner.” We all need to pray that prayer more often than we wish!

In the collection of Psalms, there are prayers of praise, like this one: Bless the Lord, O my soul, and all that is within me, bless your holy name” (Psalm 103). Those are just the opening words of a wonderful prayer of praise, a prayer that does us good to pray many times.

 

In one of his letters, Paul the Apostle writes this description of his prayer: I pray that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ … may give you a spirit of wisdom and revelation … so that … you may know the hope to which God has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance among the saints, and the immeasurable greatness of his power for us …” (Ephesians 1:17-19). This prayer speaks of our hope of life eternal, that God has granted us the power to transition from this age to the age to come.

Then there is the prayer Jesus prayed just before he was arrested and killed: “Let this cup [of suffering] pass from me, but not my will but yours be done.” And later, while hanging on the cross, Jesus prayed, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.”

These are all good prayers; they can be useful as we stand or kneel to pray. But God also hears our prayer, with whatever words we use to confess our need and call out for help. God knows our heart and our desire even before we pray. God hears and answers our prayer, especially as we ask for clarity about what we should do or for direction about where we should go.

We at Providence invite you to pray with us, as we seek to know God, to follow Jesus, and to live in the Spirit of joy, gratitude, and service—and in this way, to find our purpose and significance by living in awareness of the life to come.

Let your requests be known unto God.

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