Thursday, May 2, 2013

I Want to Pray

Today is the National Day of Prayer. It's a day where we are likely to hear messages to God lifted up across radio and television stations, in our town squares, and in our nation's capital. It's 5:30am in Houston, I've just driven to the airport, and my own radio produced a constant chain of prayers throughout the drive. Prayers for our nation; prayers for peace; prayers for our houses of worship; prayers for our children; prayers for our men and women in uniform. 

It got me thinking. Lately I've been having a lot of conversations with friends about prayer. Maybe it's because we celebrated Easter recently, or maybe it's because my friends feel comfortable talking about such things with me. If the latter, it warms my heart. But either way, many of you have told me that in times of great joy, sorrow, or stress you want to pray, but you don't know where to start. 

And I get it. If you don't talk to God all the time, saying a prayer is like striking up a conversation with a stranger about the deepest secrets of your heart. With the added complication of, you know, God being God. It's awkward, and it's intimidating. My conversations with you lately have reminded me why there are so many books of prayers. Just search on Amazon and you'll find over 100,000! Here's the truth: people want to talk to God. But many just don't know how.

I could spend thousands of words setting your mind at ease about that. I could tell you that God knows your heart, and you can't screw up prayer. I could tell you that you can do it on your knees because your mind is in a humble place, or with your hands lifted to the sky because your mind is in a joyous place, or with no outward signs at all, at your desk, because that's where you are and that's where you need Him.

But instead, for today, I thought I'd just let you see my prayer for National Day of Prayer. It's yours if you want it. I hope it blesses your day. And please keep asking me about prayer.

Heavenly Father,

Today is a day when people are thinking about You. That's good in so many ways, but especially because today people are thinking beyond themselves and reflecting.

Father, we're grateful. We are so richly blessed. In our families, in our homes, in all the many benefits we have access to living in this nation. Help us be grateful. Help us remember all of the things that we have, the things that matter, and help us rejoice in them.

Father, we're also mindful. We're mindful of the men and women who protect our freedoms, even when it costs them their lives. We're mindful of the families of our protectors. God, please bless them. Please comfort them; they sacrifice much for us. Please help us know how to help military families, and please bring their soldiers home safely.

Father, we're mourning. We're a nation struck by recent tragedy, and we're people struck by personal tragedies of some kind every day. We can't make sense of it. We don't understand it, and the losses weigh heavy on us. Please comfort us. Give peace to our troubled hearts. And help us reach out to the people facing tragedy and show them love. 

Father, we ask that You be with our leaders, in our churches, in our communities, and in our governments. Give them wisdom. Help them know what is right, and have the strength to do it. Help them seek justice, yet love mercy. God, please help us respect and support them, even when we disagree with them. Help us believe the best of people, especially our leaders, and know that in the end Your will be done. 

We are a nation divided, Lord, in many ways. Some of them needless, born of an unwillingness to listen, and a willingness to assume the worst in people.  Help us resist the impulse to these things Lord. Give us strength of our own convictions, but also a willingness to listen. Help us believe in the goodness of people and have an open mind to others, a heart to understand.

We ask for peace, dear Lord, in our hearts, in our homes, in our communities, and in our world. Help us actively seek the place where we can coexist with people, all of Your children, despite differences. Give us wisdom. Give us a heart of humility.  Give us the mind of Christ.

Please bless our families, dear Lord. Bless our marriages, keep them strong, and filled with love. Please bless our children. Help us know how to raise them to be people who know You, who show Your love to the world around them, and who make a difference.

Above all things, Lord, we ask for love. Help us appreciate the love in our lives. Help us to love our families, our friends, and our neighbors well. Help us show love and kindness to other people remembering that You love all mankind, and we are Your hands on this earth.

In Christ's name I pray all these things,

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