Have you ever prayed and then found yourself wondering if God really heard it? Is He really paying attention? Do prayers make a difference or is life more of a “what will be will be,” existence? Have you ever been asked to pray in public? Maybe you were so nervous that you ended up stringing together some holy sounding words that would be approved by those listening. You were more concerned about praying the right words, that you forgot to whom you were directing your prayer. When you finally got to the “amen” you inwardly breathed a sigh of relief that it was all over. Did it really matter anyway?
Have you ever been hurting so badly that you cried out to God with your concerns and your requests, but when your prayer was over, you walked away with your head still hung down in dejection and worry? Have you ever stopped praying altogether for awhile, concluding that you feel the same whether you pray or not, so what difference does it make?
Prayer is probably one of the most misunderstood things in the Christian’s life. Even the disciples, having been with Jesus day and night for weeks, watching Him slip away alone to pray, didn’t understand it. In Luke 11:1, we read, Once, when Jesus had been out praying, one of His disciples came to Him and said, ‘Lord, teach us to pray.'” Following that request, Jesus gives them a model which we call today, “The Lord’s Prayer.”
There is so much to be discovered in this model prayer, but for now, let’s note only one thing: This model prayer begins with focus on God, “Our Father who art in heaven.” It ends with focus on God, “For thine is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever, amen.” I suppose we could say it’s sort of like a spiritual sandwich. There’s so much goodness in between, but it’s the bread that holds it all together.
By all means, give your concerns and worries and requests to God; just be certain to remember a very important factor in your praying — focus more on Him than on what you need or want from Him. Unless it’s an emergency prayer, don’t make a habit of rushing before Him; spend time just breathing in the beauty of His presence. There is something peaceful about the presence of God, even in the midst of life’s troubles. It’s the stillness of His presence, and our worship of Him in His presence, that prepares our hearts to receive from Him. Without focus on God, we will find it nearly impossible to feast on the goodness He offers — it’s the bread that holds the sandwich together.