Hello – Entering the Conversation

Readings for this week June 5 – 9
Click here for a pdf of this week’s readings

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Day 1 – The Lord’s Prayer

Silence, Stillness and Centering before God (2 minutes)

Scripture Reading – Matthew 6:5-13

When it comes to prayer, it makes sense to start with the prayer that Jesus himself gave us. Relationships don’t grow – or even happen! – without communication, and that goes especially for our relationship with God. Putting it as simply as possible, prayer is the way we communicate with God. We get to know God as we talk about life with him and listen to and act on what he says.

The prayer commonly known as the Lord’s Prayer is an example of prayer that Jesus gave specifically to his followers as a model and guide of what to pray and how to do it. Note how Jesus’ example begins with ‘Our Father’, not ‘my Father’, a reminder that prayer is a community thing, part of our sharing of life together. In fact, if we’re serious about sharing our entire life with God and with others, no doubt we will end up praying about many aspects of our lives and other’s lives – and also for the things that God lays on our hearts. We can pray about absolutely anything and everything.

There is nothing too difficult or complex for us to bring to God. We can ask forgiveness or help, tell him how much we appreciate him, or simply wait in silence. All these and more are part of prayer. Prayer is a two-way process. Not only can we talk to God about anything that concerns us, but he has much that he wants to talk to us about.

Questions to Consider
What does the Lord’s prayer mean to you? How is it and its pattern of prayer a part of your life?

Prayer
Pray through the Lord’s prayer today.

Conclude with Silence (2 minutes)


Day 2 – God Talked First

Silence, Stillness and Centering before God (2 minutes)

Scripture Reading – 2 Kings 22

When we think of God communicating with us we often think of prayer – and only prayer, and only in specific ‘time-set-aside’ prayer. But while regular prayer is hugely important, God also communicates to us in a multitude of other ways. In today’s reading King Josiah and the Israelites discovered God’s message to them through the Bible, through God’s written, inspired word to his people.

God also speaks to us through the created world, through his son Jesus and through the Holy Spirit. He speaks in the circumstances we face and through people we meet. In the story we just read, God had spoken to the Israelites through his written word, even though they had forgotten it. This shows us two things. It shows us that communication with God starts with him, not with us. He spoke first because he wants to share life with us long before we seek him out – in fact, right from the beginning of creation. Even though the Israelites of King Josiah’s time were unaware of it, God had already told them what he wanted them to know.

So much of what we need to hear is right there waiting for us in the Bible; so much of what God wants to say to us he has already said, and says to us again and again each time we seek him through his word. When we read it, we grow in our understanding of how to live in light of God’s amazing redemptive love.

Questions to Consider
What are the different ways God has spoken to you? How has he been speaking to you this week?

Prayer
Lord God, help me understand the ways you want to speak to me, and help me hear from you in more ways through each day. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Conclude with Silence (2 minutes)


Day 3 – Are We Listening?

Silence, Stillness and Centering before God (2 minutes)

Scripture Reading – 1 Samuel 3

It seems like the default factory setting on our view of prayer is ‘speaking to God.’ Most of us find it very easy to slip into the habit of seeing prayer as the time when we talk to God about our stuff, our concerns and dreams. And while we absolutely should and must talk to God, we must also always keep in mind that God is absolutely passionate about speaking to us. As we read earlier this week, prayer is communication – two-way communication.

Even when we don’t listen at first, God is determined to get his message through. The Bible is full of examples of God speaking to people: he spoke to Balaam through a donkey, he talked to Moses through a burning bush, and he got King Belshazzar’s attention by writing on a wall. God has a huge variety of methods. We don’t need to worry about whether God wants to talk to us—he will do whatever it takes to get through to us. What might need work is how well we listen.

God called Samuel several times before Samuel responded to him. God didn’t give up on talking to Samuel, and Samuel didn’t give up on trying to understand what was happening and what he needed to do. We need to learn to know God’s voice and listen to it, as Samuel eventually did. When God speaks, it’s vital that we are ready to hear.

Questions to Consider
What is God saying to you today? What specific words does he have for you?

Prayer
Heavenly Father, help me to listen to you more so I can know more of what is on your heart and be more like you. Grow my heart to be like yours. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Conclude with Silence (2 minutes)


Day 4 – Hold on Tight!

Silence, Stillness and Centering before God (2 minutes)

Scripture Reading – John 15:7

Jesus once said that when we pray in faith we can move entire mountains. Is this simply illustrative hyperbole, or might Jesus have been serious? Either way his point was serious: anything is possible through prayer. When we pray, says Jesus, we can ask for anything we like and get it. But there’s a condition…. we need to be in close relationship with Jesus. What does that mean? The Message says, ‘Live in me; make your home in me.’ The Contemporary English Version of the Bible says, ‘Stay joined to me and let my teachings become part of you.’ When we stay close to Jesus we get to know and understand him, and together we begin to create something wonderful. We can talk with God about anything and everything—big or small, simple or complex.

Jesus says we need to spend a lot of time reading and understanding the Bible. As we read his word, listen to his voice and begin to practice his love, even what we pray for will change. We take on his interests and begin to want the same things he wants. We’ll find ourselves praying first and foremost for the things on God’s heart and the things that concern him. The closer to Jesus we remain, the more we are transformed to be like him, and the more our prayers will also be transformed into his prayers. Our prayers will be answered and we’ll be keen to pray more.

Questions to Consider
What is something you have been praying about for a long time that you feel is unanswered? How does it feel to be still holding on? What do you think Jesus is saying about this?

Prayer
Sovereign Lord, give me the strength and wisdom to know when to hold on and keep praying and persevering, and when to let go. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Conclude with Silence (2 minutes)


Day 5 – The Unwanted Answer

Silence, Stillness and Centering before God (2 minutes)

Scripture Reading – 2 Samuel 12:15-23

If God is good (which he is) and likes to give his children good things (which he does), and if we are faithful (which we manage sometimes!), surely our prayers would always be successful? But as we all know our prayers don’t always get the answers we want. What happens when things go wrong? What do we do when the answer to prayer is hard to take? Sometimes it just doesn’t happen. No matter how right the request seems to be, or how urgent, our prayers aren’t answered the way we’d like. Prayers seeking God’s healing for the very ill and dying often fit this situation, something that David knew all about that. He watched his child die in spite of his desperate prayers for a different outcome.

Jesus also faced this reality at the Garden of Gethsemane. Although he understood that his father’s plan was not going to give him an easy way out, he still begged God to spare him the pain that was coming. Yet as distressed as he was Jesus found the strength to tell his father, ‘Not my will, but yours be done.’ Sometimes we don’t like what God says to us. Living with consequences can be deeply painful. But God still has a plan for us even then, beyond the pain and hurt and confusion. We need to accept this and trust God to comfort us as he walks beside us.

Questions to Consider
In what areas of life do you find it hardest to pray, ‘Not my will but yours be done’? How can you offer these areas to God and submit them to him?

Prayer
Almighty God, help me pray “your will be done” even when it’s hard. Give me the strength and courage to let you be God and king of my life. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Conclude with Silence (2 minutes)