2023 January February A Word of Hope by Lisa Hall

Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. (Phil. 4:6 NLT)

Prayer is a gift – an invitation from God for us to come to him with every circumstance of our lives. Prayer is our response back to him, affirming our faith in him, his power and his goodness. He invites us into a relationship where we can learn to know him intimately. Consequently, we discover not only who he is, but who he says we are – his precious and beloved children whom he welcomes to talk to him about everything.

I’m so thankful that God desires these conversations because I need to talk to him. I’m a verbal processor, so I need to talk things out in order for me to analyze and arrange my thoughts and plans. I figured out very early in life that God was real, told the truth, was faithful and could be trusted – and I began to talk to him. But I wanted to hear from him too. And so I began reading the Bible and conversing with him about everything I was reading.

As I studied the Word, I saw how much God cared about people, how they felt and what they were going through. In Chapter 1 of 1 Samuel, Hannah pours out her soul to the Lord longing for a child. Her grief and anguish were so deep and outwardly visible that the high priest thought she was drunk. But God heard her desperate cry and reached out to her. He sees us in our pain. How has God heard your cries to him and answered you?

I saw the heart of Jesus as he wept over the death of Lazarus, had compassion for the sick and gave respect to women. Not only does God see our hearts and come alongside us, but he also longs to share his heart with us. How often do we stop talking in prayer and ask him what is on his heart? We must learn to listen, too, if we want true intimacy with him.

When our first reaction to every circumstance in life is to take it to God immediately, he can help us gain perspective – his perspective. When we choose to invite him to have access and control of every aspect of our lives, we discover the beauty of abiding and remaining in him (John 15). When he is in us and we are in him, we will feel his strength. His peace can fill our minds and hearts.

This year we will look deeply into what it means to pray. Together we will discover the power of praying Scripture and God’s promises back to him. As we study the names of God and the “I AM” statements in the Bible, we will pray with greater clarity and power when we understand the characteristics of the God to whom we pray. We will also look at prayer as worship, praise, warfare, confession and intercession. And I am excited to look together at the ancient paths of Lectio Divina, which involves listening prayer and reflection.

Prayer is our communion with God. In what ways are you seeing the need to connect with and commune with God in your own life? How is God asking you to come to him in prayer for our world?