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Teach Us to Pray

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Olivia Ransome
Highlands High School Student

Beware of practicing your righteousness before other people in order to be seen by them, for then you will have no reward from your Father who is in heaven. “Thus, when you give to the needy, sound no trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may be praised by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you. “And when you pray, you must not be like the hypocrites. For they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, that they may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward.  -Matthew 6:1-5

At a young age, I tended to believe that prayer was meant only for when we wanted to thank God for blessings or when we desired something or wanted an outcome to go a certain way, which of course is more than applicable, but my knowledge of prayer lacked the fundamental benefits that prayer encompasses. As I grew in my faith as a believer and developed a relationship with the Father, my view on prayer changed completely. Others believe prayer is meant only for a singular use, when we’re in times of trouble or when we seek worldly praise from others (vs. 5). But prayer is far from that. Prayer is a genuine gift from God, a way in which we can communicate with the Father privately and grow our relationship with him. He is our friend who we can go to in times of trouble, but also in times of happiness and joy. 

Through prayer we can also listen to what God has to say to us as well, and let him lead us through our actions. Jesus emphasizes as well in Matthew 6:5 that prayer should also reflect a certain private intimacy between us as believers and God. There is something so intimate within the walls of prayer that we should long to pray in private long before we do so in public. It is good to pray in public, but our prayers should always be genuine prayers before the Father, with intentions to please only him.

Today, let us examine our intentions behind prayer through prayer and answering various questions, as we begin to fully understand the true meanings that come along with it.

  • What does prayer mean to you?
  • When do you most often go to God in prayer? Through trials and tribulations? In joyful times? When seeking appraisal?
  • How does knowing that prayer helps grow and deepen your relationship with God change the way you think about prayer and when you pray?
  • How has prayer changed your relationship with God?

Prayer: Lord, we often come to you with wants or desires, or when seeking praise from the wrong things, but transform us through your love to seek just you and only you. Lead us to pray, with intentions of a deeper and stronger relationship with you. Give us a heart longing for more of you and to learn more about you. Let us pray to you not for our own praise, but for the utmost praise for you. Through our struggles Lord, let us cling to you for strength in prayer. Let going to you privately in prayer be our default when we are caught in times of trouble. Lord, thank you for giving us the gift of prayer, so we can flourish in the fullness of your spirit and advance our relationships with you. 

Posted by Olivia Ransome with
in Faith, Fear

Come, Follow Me. Don’t be afraid.

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Charles Palacios
Men's Group Leader

Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men. -Matthew 4:19

Come after me, and I will make you become fishers of men. -Mark 1:17

Do not be afraid. From now on you will catch men. -Luke 5:10

Most people focus on the “fishers of men” part of these verses and rightfully so. They are indeed an extension of the previous commandment relating to the harvest, and a direct reference to the mission of disciple making. However, rather than focusing on the results of the work, catching men, I’d like us to look at the condition of the heart as we begin to fish.

The Greek word Jesus uses here for “come”  is deute. It means come here now! It’s possible to hear this word as the voice of an angry father compelling his wayward son to ‘get over here’! But I think a better example is that of the dad beckoning with his hands and compelling his child to run with him into the amusement park saying, ‘come on...this is going to be great’!

Opitso is the second Greek word that means literally to follow behind or get behind. Jesus is saying, ‘I’ll take the lead, you follow’ or ‘I’ll show you how, just do what I do’. This is important to understand because unless we let Jesus lead the way in our life, it’s likely we will get lost along the way. Here I am imagining a father teaching his son to tie his shoes. “Just do what I do,” the father says and then slowly models the movements. Or perhaps we could imagine a father and son many years later standing in front of a mirror with faces full of shaving cream. The father says, “Just do what I do,” and carefully models the strokes. Now in both cases, the son could do whatever he wants including the opposite strokes, but to what end?

Finally, phobos, which means fear. It’s where we get our word phobia. The Greeks had a god named Phobos who always accompanied Aris the god of war. We have all felt afraid in our lives, so that is easy to understand. But another meaning of this word is to withdraw or separate one’s self, to flee or remove one’s self or to avoid because of dread. A child who thinks there is a monster under his bed or in his closet might flee from his room and run and jump in bed with his parents.    

So in a nutshell, Jesus is saying, ‘Come with me now, I’ll lead the way, stay close, you have nothing to fear’! This is a command. When followed, the result will be that we will catch men.  

There are three conditions of our heart which often hinder us from obeying this command: Hesitant (not being ready now), Defiant (not submitting to follow Jesus’ lead), Wandering (not staying close to Jesus, our leader).  

Which of these conditions, if any, are you most familiar with?

Prayer: Lord, it’s my desire to want to follow you.  Yet, you know my heart and you know that too often fear enters and hinders my following.  Give me the sensitivity to hear your voice.  Give me the courage to stay close. And help me simply follow You, in faithful and loving obedience.

Posted by Charles Palacios with

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