“When you pray, don’t be like the hypocrites who love to pray . . . to be seen. . . . But when you pray, go into your inner room, shut your door, and pray to God, which is unseen. And God, which sees what is done in secret, will reward you.”
Notes for Contemplation as You Use this Devotional:
- In this wisdom from the “Sermon on the Mount” by the Gospel Writer called Matthew, Jesus teaches that prayer is a personal process, a divine, private connection with God.
- Jesus also reminds us not to show off or look for God outside of us. Rather, he suggests that we turn within to feel God’s presence for ourselves. This helps us better access our divinity, tune into our intuition, and avoid seeking God on a throne in an imagined heavenly sphere.
- Jesus prayed knowing that he always had this constant connection; nothing could separate him—or us—from God. To Jesus, God was the compassionate, loving source, support, and sustenance for all people.
- No matter what our specific desires or needs, our prayers often fall into these categories:
- Assurance: Feeling a sense of calm and peace, knowing that all is well.
- Clarity: Seeing what is and what we can do, even if we don’t like what we see.
- Discernment: Knowing what to choose and how to act.
- Guidance: Being led in ways which are best for us.
- Demonstration is your evidence of what does or doesn’t work in your life. So, don’t pray to change God by beseeching or bargaining. God is neither a short-order cook nor a magician. And, don’t diminish yourself by praying with an ain’t-it-awful, it’ll-never-get-better, I’m-a-miserable-sinner attitude. Jesus never put himself down.
- Instead, pray affirmatively, directing your attention to God as the presence and power which imbues you and all the Universe with divine life. As Jesus did, know that you’re a worthy, deserving, divine child of God. Then you’ll better see beyond challenges and recognize your ability to act on your own behalf.
- Your reward is always answered prayer, though you may not receive your exact request when and as you expect. For example, you may pray for a raise to pay off debt, but realize that you’ll receive more money and fulfillment from a side hustle.
- There are several styles for praying. Here’s one example:
- Find a time and place to be quiet and still, so you can turn your full attention to God.
- Relax and rest comfortably.
- Reflect on your needs and what positive outcome you want.
- Imagine and visualize your request being fulfilled, without striving to know every detail.
- Allow a feeling of serenity, knowing that your prayer is being answered.
- Affirm that the absolute best is happening for you and through you.
- Then, release your prayer, giving thanks that what you desire is now unfolding.
- As Rev. Dr. Johnnie Colemon teaches in an inspiring collection of her sermons, It Works If You Work It, “God works through you, but you must make contact with the divine in your own consciousness [mindset and awareness] before it can come into expression. . . . Unless and until you make the contact within yourself, the energy cannot flow through you to get the work done.”
As you reflect on your life and circumstances, ask yourself:
- In what ways am I connecting with God?
- List, word map, or illustrate all the ways.
- What are my current prayer requests?
- List, word map, or illustrate all your prayer requests.
- When I reflect on all my prayer requests, what am I expecting God to do?
- List, word map or illustrate whatever you’re expecting.
- When I reflect on all my prayer requests, what steps am I taking to act for my own well-being?
- List, word map, or illustrate everything you’re doing.
As you use this devotional, open yourself to a deep, inner awareness of God. Focus on what’s true: that God is all good, everywhere present, all the time, always, and in all ways. Remember, too, that it isn’t enough just to pray. Be willing to do your work. Trust the assurance. Accept the clarity. Discern what’s best. Then, go forward in faith as you are guided. Also, try journaling or illustrating how your prayers are answered as you rejoice in your own prayer process.
© 2023 – Rev. Jennifer L. Sacks – All rights reserved.
Photo from Shutterstock by Andrew Roland.