Praying to Myself

Talking to Self

I talk to myself, a lot. Sometimes out loud, which entertains those around me, but most often silently, within the confines of my own mind.

My internal monologue runs pretty constant and ranges from the mundane – “Should I run by the store now or will it be less crowded later?” to the more challenging – “What do I need to do to resolve a conflict with a coworker?” After consulting with myself, I’ll decide on a course of action, or I’ll put the problem on the bottom of a mental stack and deal with it when it pops up again.

In some ways it’s the most natural thing in the world to do – to ruminate on your problems, to  contemplate what you’re going to do. I suspect most of us do this without even trying. At least that’s what I said to myself.

But then my internal monologue was interrupted by these words:

You seem like you do a really good job carrying on a monologue in your head. The great privilege for every believer and my hope for you is that your life becomes a constant dialogue with your Father in heaven.

This wisdom came via a mentor of my friend Neil Tomba, which he shared in a recent sermon on prayer. You can get the whole message here: “The Parable of the Midnight Friend”.

I’m afraid too often I think of prayer as something we do together in church. Or if you’re really serious about your faith, prayer is a set time in the schedule for Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving, and Supplication™. Viewing prayer only this way tends to make prayer an activity, a task to be completed before we get on with other stuff.

In the sermon Neil points out that when Jesus taught his disciples to pray, He taught them to begin with, “Our Father …” – a highly relational approach to prayer that encourages us to pray like young children who freely pour out their requests to their mom or dad throughout the day. Seen this way, prayer isn’t just a scheduled activity, but an ongoing conversation with our Father in heaven who gives good gifts to us every day.

Something to think about … and something to talk to the Father about.

Heaven’s Work

The third day He rose again from the dead. He ascended into heaven and sits at the right hand of God the Father Almighty.

Apostle’s Creed

That’s a lot of sitting and waiting for the end to come. But Jesus isn’t waiting around watching youtube videos. He’s praying, for you.

Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us. Romans 8:34

Consequently, he is able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them. Hebrews 7:25

I like the way Jaroslav J. Vajda says it in the hymn Up through Endless Ranks of Angels:

Death destroying, life restoring,

Proven equal to our need,

Now for us before the Father

As our brother intercede;

Flesh that for our world was wounded,

Living, for the wounded plead!

Jesus’ last words on the cross were “It is finished!” And indeed His work of atonement is finished. But Jesus’ work continues in heaven as He prays for us on earth. Take comfort in whatever you face today: He knows, He’s praying.

Asking for What You Already Have

If we’re forgiven in Christ, why does Jesus tell us to ask for forgiveness in the Lord’s Prayer? Why do we need to ask for something we already have? Is our forgiveness dependent on our asking?

Martin Luther provides a helpful thought in his teaching on the Lord’s Prayer:

“There is here again great need for us to call upon God and to pray, “Dear Father, forgive us our trespasses.” It is not as though He did not forgive our sin without and even before our prayer. (He has given us the Gospel, in which is pure forgiveness before we prayed or even thought about it [Romans 5:8].) But the purpose of this prayer is that we may recognize and receive such forgiveness.”

The Large Catechism, The Lord’s Prayer, 88-89