Don’t pray religious prayers

Yesterday we celebrated Thanksgiving, and many of us gathered with family and friends to share a meal. And yes – historically, Thanksgiving is a time people gather to give thanks to GOD, but for me, that is every day, all day.

Note: visit Hillsdale College to learn the history of Thanksgiving

No, this post is not about the “day” of Thanksgiving but the heart of prayer.

I was recently at a public meeting where people with “titles” gathered and shared thoughts about November 8th and things going on in Indianapolis. When it was over, a person approached me and asked, “What is it that you do?” Thinking for a moment about how to justify my being there, I said: “I am an intercessor, and I connect people that have needs with people who can fill those needs.” A bit confused, the woman said, “Oh, you’re an organizer,” and then walked away.  

I know who I am, though when I look around the room and see all the “titles,” I may forget – I am a redeemed child of God and in constant dialog with Him. Knowing that I can rightly do so, not because of anything I have done – but everything to do with what Jesus has done. 

I was asked to pray yesterday when we gathered around the delicious food. Surprised, I spoke a brief prayer. I didn’t overthink it until later when condemning phrases began to swirl in my thoughts.

Phrases like:

You missed the opportunity to thank Jesus for your redemption.

You didn’t thank God for the people in the room and how important they are to you.

You didn’t even ask God to help unite the United States.

These harassing phrases accused me of failing or even missing the opportunity to represent the Kingdom of God.

Trying to brush thoughts off of me and not to allow them to rise above the knowledge of God – in other words- not let these condemning words take precedence over what God says about me. I realized that those words were coming from a religious spirit.

Some people might be asking;  But Georgia, isn’t that how we are to be, religious? Years ago, I would have said; yes. Today though, I say no, this isn’t how we should be.

As I understand the Old and New Testament, I realize that the ‘religious’ Teachers and Pharisees had issues with Jesus’ ministry. With the legalistic traditions, they failed to understand that Jesus fulfilled the scrolls they routinely read publicly and taught from. He was making it easy for people to connect with God personally.

An article on 4-10-2015 on the: Living For Jesus Alone Ministries website explains the differences between being a Christian and being a religious person. You should check it out.

Being religious is to rely on your ability to do things that would grant you “right” standing before your god. Whereas being Christian is acknowledging your inability to have “right” standing due to our sinfulness and accepting Jesus as the son of God, our Savior and Lord.

It doesn’t stop there. That is the beginning of the Christian walk. As you spend time in a relationship with God the Father, Jesus the redeemer, and Holy Spirit the helper, a person begins to be transformed. In other words, their heart begins to change, and instead of having the sinful nature listed in Eph. 5:19-21, they have the spirit of love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (Eph 5:22-23).

So, what does all of this have to do with prayer at the Thanksgiving table?

When people gather for the holidays with family and friends,  there are individuals from all walks of life. Prayers are not to convey arrogance or even judgment. That is not the heart of Christ. Also, it doesn’t need to be wordy.

Unfortunately, in the past, I had to pray about everything each time I had the opportunity to join others, bowing my head and folding my hands to pray. Over the years, I have learned to allow Holy Spirit to give me direction in my prayer time.

There are many areas in today’s world where we can make our requests known to God, and there is a time and a place for each.

I want to remind everyone that when we pray over food during the holidays, let us be grateful to the Lord God for the many provision he has placed in our lives; most people can agree on that. Also, let us ask God to bless the food to nourish our bodies; again, everyone can agree. But above all, let our prayers be sincere and come from our hearts, not just words we believe everyone expects us to utter.

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