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Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. -1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 English Standard Version (ESV)

“So if God is all knowing and God cares about us, why does God tell us to ask? Why doesn’t God just do it and stop our suffering now?” That was the question the 22-year-old mom asked to me. She did not know why God had made her life so tough. Her boyfriend was on and off with drugs. Her baby had so many health problems. And now the car had broken which meant she could not get easily to work in Spirit Lake. I gave her a list of folks that might offer to carpool with her. And then I was quiet. Can I pray with you anyway? I asked. So we did. Right there on the street.

Ever wondered about her question? We all know that prayer is something essential to follow Christ. Christ himself prayed often. Modern psychology tells us that prayer/meditation is a key aspect of Wellness—no matter if we are religious or not. It is a stress reduction thing but more, only in sleep and meditative prayer does our body’s healing functions turn on. Only in prayer do we tend to let go of worries and touch God. We are made to pray (Psalm 139 - so wondrously made!)

Jonathan Edwards, the reformed preacher in the mid 1700s in America, wrote often of prayer. His was a time of “awakening” and changes in standard spirituality and religious practice, of political turmoil and uncertainty.

And he preached that the Spirit of God asks us to pray. Why? He gave two reasons:

To stop and pray directs us to dependence on God, to stop and turn to God instead of ourselves. To Pray is to worship, which is what we are to do, our only purpose really (to glorify God and enjoy him forever) And this turning orients us not only to God’s presence but also to the community God has gathered around us—so pray with and for others too, and ask them to pray for you as well. And take it all to God.

To get us ready to receive God’s actions and Words. Prayer actually makes us grateful, a state that modern science says releases anti-stress hormones and endorphins, which produces peace and wholeness (the Hebrews called that Shaloam). Prayer shows us not that we deserve anything, because God is not bound to listen. Instead it shows us that even though unworthy, God DOES listen and God DOES help us. We learn to stop and be present and rely on God.

That young woman asked me if there was a special way to pray, and I told her no—just be with God, talk it out with God, and then listen to God in quiet for a bit. She took a big sigh and stopped and told me—“I am made to pray? I am made to pray. God made me to pray.” Take some time this Lent and Pray!

- Pastor Tim

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