What is the purpose of prayer?
We have begun a 7-week series on prayer. As we began this series last week, we talked about two methods of praying that people have found helpful as tools to structure their time of prayer. The first was built as an acronym of the word ACTS. This structure for prayer is Adoration (entering into God’s presence and praising God for who God is), Confession (once we affirm who God is we realize how far short we fall of God’s character and nature thus needing to confess), Thanksgiving (for the many blessings that a holy God has given to us a less than perfect people) and then Supplication (presenting to God the concerns and needs we have in our own lives and those who we carry in our heart).
The second tool was what was called “The Hand Prayer.” The ‘thumb’ is for those closest to us. The ‘pointer finger’ is for those farthest away. The ‘tallest finger’ is for those with great responsibility and/or power. The ‘weakest finger’ is for those in need. The ‘little finger’ is for me, the least of these, and the concerns I have in my own life.
This being said, the process of prayer is not necessarily the purpose of prayer. In Matthew 6:1-18, Jesus talks about 3 spiritual disciplines that were an essential part of the spirituality of the Jewish people during his day: Almsgiving (6:1-4), Prayer (6:5-15), Fasting (6:16-18). Almsgiving, the third part of stewardship for a good Jew in Jesus’ day following tithes and offerings, was often done with fanfare. Jesus essentially said, “It’s not about you. Giving to help others is about HELPING OTHERS and not people seeing that you are helping others.”
In like fashion, fasting is about deepening one’s intimacy with God and not letting people see that you are doing something to deepen your intimacy with God. Again, it is after Jesus was shouting, “It’s not about you!! It is about you hearing what God wants to say to you.”
And prayer? If we are honest, don’t we often approach prayer as if it is all about us? Doesn’t scripture teach, “Cast all your cares upon him because He cares for you?” (1 Peter 5:7) Isn’t that the purpose of prayer? Don’t we pray to attempt to get God to do our bidding, to meet our needs, to serve us? Yes and no. YES, as God’s children, we certainly have the freedom to come into God’s presence and present our needs. YES, we certainly have the expectation that God will answer our prayers in accordance with His will (John 15:7; Matt. 7:7-8; James 4:3; 1 John 5:14-15). As Jesus taught, “Ask and ye shall receive that your joy might be full” (John 16:24).
There is also the NO!! In John 15:7 the premise for God answering our prayers and meeting our needs is “If you abide in me and my word abides in you, then….” The answer comes out of a relationship with the One of whom I am making my request. In the section on prayer in the lesson from Matthew, the section we have come to title “The Lord’s Prayer,” Jesus begins telling us that prayer begins with focusing on God and God’s Kingdom. Our first request is that God’s kingdom comes and God’s will is done on earth as it is in heaven. “It’s not first and foremost about you!” In light of this focus on God’s will and God’s kingdom I would propose to you that the purpose of prayer is to transform us into think and desiring God’s will and not using God as a heavenly genie who gives us our wishes as we rub the pearly gates with our prayers. Certainly something to think about.
As we pray together the prayers I have written for the ministry and mission of our church, we are presenting ourselves to the Lord and asking Him to shape our hearts, lives and practices of this church to align with His will. Prayer is a tool God uses to shape us into the people God wants us to be. This is certainly true individually. I believe it can also be true for us as a congregation.
May God bless us as we stand in His presence together through prayer.
News & Events
Sunday, October 22nd:
9:00 a.m. Bible Study in the Chapel, Acts 18
Monday, October 23rd:
5:30 p.m. Handbell Practice
7:00 p.m. Choir Practice
Tuesday, October 24th:
7:00 a.m. Men’s Bible Study and Breakfast
Wednesday, October 25th:
L.A.M.B.S. will meet in Fellowship Hall at 10 a.m.
Bible Babes will meet in Fellowship Hall at 12:30 p.m.
Check out the Events Calendar for more upcoming events.
Prayers for the Life of My Church
Over the next several weeks our congregation will be receiving a prayer during worship service with the idea that we will all be praying for the same thing on the same day. This Sunday you will be given our first prayer with a ring attached. As we work our way through the next several weeks, we will be adding prayers to our rings. If you would like the prayers via email or snail mail, please contact the church office.
Trick-or-Treat Street will be here soon!
FPC will be participating in Whitefish’s Trick-or-Treat Street again this year. Please consider bringing a bag of candy into the office to donate to this fun children’s event. Volunteers will be needed to pass out candy. There is a signup sheet in Fellowship Hall or contact the church office for more information.
Church Information Class
Sunday, October 22
11:30 a.m. -1:00 p.m.
This class will provide some background on the origins of the Presbyterian Church, a review of its central beliefs, a look at how a Presbyterian Church organizes to do the work of the Lord and a look at our local congregation, its vision and mission. This class, although focusing on information, is also a great step toward membership in this church, making this “officially” your church home.
Please let the church office know by Friday, October 20th if you are planning on attending so the proper amount of materials can be prepared. Also, if you need assistance with childcare, please let the office know as well.