“Do you know anything about this?” I asked Cyndi the other day. “No,” she replied, “but I’ll google it.” I suspect this is a familiar conversation. Over half of the world’s population use Google. And 77% of google users will search for something on Google at least 3 times per day.
And if you use Google to search, you’ll see a lot of Google and YouTube advertisements.
We are inundated with messages intended to convince us that we’re in need of whatever the source of the message is selling. By 2007 persons using social media and email were seeing around 5,000 ads every day. Today the average online person sees around 10,000 ads per day.
Most of us have learned the hard way that even if we decide to purchase whatever the message is selling our feelings of satisfaction are short-lived. First, our satisfaction is short-lived because the barrage of messages doesn’t stop. And whether abruptly or subtly, each message reminds us of deficiencies in our appearance, our vehicles, our homes, our entertainment, and in nearly every aspect of life.
From a need for a prescription, better hair, a more powerful truck, or a more comfortable bed. How can we ever feel like we’ve arrived when we’re always traveling to the next store to buy whatever we’re told we’re missing.
And even when we feel satisfied our satisfaction is short-lived. Our satisfaction is short-lived because that which truly satisfies us cannot be purchased from somebody else. The result is that we feel lacking and convinced that we’re never enough. Recent surveys suggest that somewhere between 70 and 80% of us report feeling inadequate.
So I’m guessing that feelings of inadequacy often show up in our prayers. “Lord, help me to be more,” fill-in-the-blank. And why not ask for that new truck while on the topic of inadequate. After all, Jesus said that we should expect to receive what we ask for in prayer (Matthew 7:7).
Father, Lord of heaven and earth! I thank you because…
There is no doubt from scripture that Jesus prayed often. But one difference from the prayers of Jesus and my own is the absence of requests for self-improvement. And in the first of six actual prayers of Jesus, found in scripture, His focus is on God.
Father, Lord of heaven and earth! I thank you because you have shown to the unlearned what you have hidden from the wise and learned. Yes, Father, this was how you were pleased to have it happen… (Matthew 11:25-26).
Depending on where you believe Jesus’ prayer ends there is more to this lesson than these two verses. Jesus was speaking to a crowd and now He is addressing you and me. Jesus says a prayer that is heard by the crowd right after sharing His reflection on how some of the smartest and most powerful people around missed the obvious.
Jesus travelled from town to town teaching and performing miracles that included healing incurable illness and disability. Yet, a large number of eye witnesses seemed to miss the point altogether. By way of illustration, Jesus reminds the crowd that some of the least knowledgeable and a few of the worst offenders believed what they saw and heard. But their revelation is a divine gift that they didn’t earn by their own efforts.
Instead, salvation that comes from knowing that Jesus Christ is God is simply a gift. The facts are so straight forward that they confuse the wise. And God’s message is often overlooked by the comfortable.
Jesus said “Unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 18:3). When I think of children I think of potential and possibility. I feel like children come into the world so much smarter than adults because they haven’t learned limitations. And, as a result, they still believe anything is possible and they learn to navigate life at lightening speeds.
In Jesus’ first prayer in scripture He gives thanks and praises God for divine wisdom on display. For He knows that unless we’re able to let go of the regrets, hurts, disappointments and failures we miss the offer of grace coming from Jesus. And perhaps even harder, unless we let go of the successes, accomplishments, one-ups, wins, and trophies, we miss out on the humility that allows God to be in charge.
Do you want to improve your prayer life? Take a tip from Jesus and begin your prayer letting God know that you notice divine wisdom even when you don’t understand it.
Praise God from whom all blessings flow. Praise God all creatures here below. This week, try starting your prayers with praise.
Each Sunday during our series, Pray, we’re collecting prayer requests. You can submit a request online from our website home page. In addition, prayer request forms are located around the church and during water and food giveaways.
You can join us each Sunday in person or online by clicking the button on our website’s homepage – Click here to watch. This button takes you to our YouTube channel. You can find more information about us on our website at FlintAsbury.org.
A reminder that we publish this newsletter that we call the Circuit Rider each week. You can request this publication by email. Send a request to connect@FlintAsbury.org or let us know when you send a message through our website. We post an archive of past editions on our website under the tab, Connect – choose Newsletters.
Content for this series is based in part on:
Robert L. Morris, Jr.. Pray Like Jesus: What We Can Learn From the Six Recorded Prayers of Jesus. Bloomington, IL: Westbow Press, 2019.