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How to Relate to God: Prayer

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Pastor Ed Allen is preaching a series going through the seven habits for building balanced spiritual lives.  Today he began focusing on the second habit in the "Up" direction:

Practice creative devotion.

This week, we're starting at the beginning, with Prayer, the language of our connection with God.

We looked at Matthew 6:5-15.

Jesus isn't pointing out the difference between irreligious people and religious people; he's pointing out the difference between religious people and Christians.

The Right Motivation for Prayer

Religious people approach God as merchants, in a business-like relationship with God, to earn social capital or benefits.

Christ-followers approach God as lovers.

The almost awkward language of lovers is all over Jesus' teachings.  It's not a negotiation or exchange.  Lovers like to approach in secret.  Merchants almost never burst into praise!  They don't throw their hearts open with trust.

A merchant's relationship depends on what they have (goodness, knowledge, the right words, good deeds).

As a lover, my relationship depends on who God is.

The Right Basis for Prayer

Every interaction has rules or engagement.  What will cause my prayer to be heard?  Getting everything right?  Being good?

Religious people approach God as a boarder.  They're looking to present a fair and even exchange.  They think getting what they want from God depends on their performance.

Christ-followers approach God as a child.

It's based on commitment.  Jesus using "Our Father" was profoundly intimate language.

Being a Christian is not a change of behavior; it's a change of status.

You can tell if you have a boarder's mentality by how you respond when your prayers aren't answered right away.  If you get angry or anxious, you may be approaching God like a boarder.

We may wonder, "What am I doing wrong, that God didn't answer?"

Or we may say, "I did everything right!  How dare God not answer?"

"Give us this day our daily bread" doesn't sit well with Boarders or Merchants.  They need to plan way ahead and control things.

Praise and trust come naturally to Lovers and Children.

Things to try this week:

1)  Try some new practice in prayer. 

Find the time to draw near to God -- like a lover, like a child.

2)  A prayer exercise we're going to try corporately:

At 1:00, pray for 1 minute about our $1 million challenge.

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Does anything strike you after thinking about this sermon this week?  Tell us about it in the comments.

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