Today at church, the pastor gave a sermon on prayer based on the scripture reading from Luke 11: 1-13. The pastor was saying that the Lord’s prayer is a model prayer from which we can emulate when one prays to God. So within that passage of the Lord’s prayer, there are several qualities that can be identified. First, it identifies God’s interest as the priority of the prayer as shown from the words ‘your kingdom come’. The pastor juxtapose this quality of prayer with prayers which he says are self-centred in nature, which in the pastor’s words, are due to the sinful nature. It got me thinking of the kind of prayers that I usually say to God. I would usually say the Lord’s prayer in the morning. I added in the Lord’s prayer to my daily routine because I was concerned that I might not be praying enough about God’ kingdom in my own constructed prayers, and it would be best to copy wholesale what is said in the Lord’s prayer. I do try to be as deliberate and thoughtful when I say the Lord’s prayer, reflecting upon the words when I mention the Lord’s prayer. I would usually have to pause for a moment at the part about forgiving the trespasses of others. It causes me to think how I should respond to people whom I feel have wronged me in the past if I truly forgive them. Also, it does cause me to reflect upon the sins that I want God to forgive me for. I guess I could spend more time reflecting when I pray the part about ‘your kingdom come’ because I feel that for the most part now, I simply recite those words, probably with the attitude that God will bring the kingdom on his own initiative and I am simply welcoming it with my words.
I used to say only the following as my morning prayer – “Lord, at the beginning of this new day, let not my will but yours be done, for I have no true knowledge about what will bring me true happiness. Grant me the self-discipline to do whatever you will. Bless and protect my friends and my family. Amen.” Now, I say this prayer after the Lord’s prayer. I suppose one might think that my way of saying prayers sounds mechanical, but I find having a routine prayer nice because I don’t have to think too much when saying my prayer. I guess, in this latter prayer of mine, I am reminded to trust in God’s good will for me, even as if life might not seem to be going so smoothly for me. I constructed this prayer when I was in Junior College, and back then, I was quite a proponent on the virtues of self-discipline as a way of accomplishing things, so I included it in my prayer. And one thing that worries most in life is the safety and well-being of my family members, as well as my friends’, and by praying the last phrase, I am also reminded to be concerned for them, and prayer is the least I could do to effect my concern.
Now, I have a constructed prayer for meals that I believe Christians might criticize as the self-centred kind. It goes – ‘As I partake this food, bless me with good health, good strength, good intelligence, good looks, good social skills, good wisdom. Bless me with your presence and your guidance. Thank you for the food. In Jesus name I pray, Amen.’ I made up this prayer when I was in secondary school, and I think it has kind of stuck with me. I guess I really do wish for God to bless me with a lot of good things in life, and shouldn’t the least I should do if I really want these good things is to ask them from God? Now, I try to structure some personal praying time with God that is not composed in nature during meal time if there is no one eating with me.
It seems I got carried away with talking about my personal prayers, so I shall end my writing on it with my bedtime prayer. I get it from a wallpiece that I see in my bedroom which shows two little cartoon children kneeling down to pray. It goes – “As I lay me down to sleep, I pray thee Lord my soul to keep, guard me through the starry night, and awaken me at morning’s light.”
I have been rather angry at God these days for not healing me from my tension headaches, and from tinnitus. Sometimes, when the anger kicks in, I would refuse to pray to God. But then when the angry thoughts go away, and I have that thought that God is a kind god after all, I would pray to God again. I am quite confused about my religion at the moment, and do struggle with doubts about the existence of God. I guess I just want God to heal me of my tension headaches, and of tinnitus as well.
There were other things said by my pastor for his sermon. He mentioned this phrase which I thought quite beautiful – “The tithes of a church may build it up, but it is the tears of prayers that gives it life.” Another thing mentioned was about the intercessory function of prayer for other people. The pastor referenced the part about Abraham praying for God to spare Sodom and Gomorrah if at least a quantity of righteous people could be found. The pastor went further by referencing the Romans passage about how no one on earth is righteous. I have become apprehensive of too far-flung a reference of biblical passages in order to make a point, but I guess what the pastor is trying to say is that we should pray for everyone on earth because everyone requires intercessory prayer for their unrighteousness. I just say that I am a quite apprehensive about imputing the same sort of unrighteousness of Sodom and Gomorrah on everybody, and think that unrighteousness over there is different from the unrighteousness used in that Romans passage.