I think the very hardest prayer for me to pray is the Lord's prayer.
Not that I don't know it or forget it... but if I'm not careful I can rattle it off in no time, thinking about my grocery list or what I have to do and not at all being present in the prayerful moment.
I was raised Catholic (and am blessed for it) and no one could polish off a rosary quicker than me!!!! Okay, that chore checked off my list! This beautiful act of devotion and prayer and meditation and I turned it into a chore!!!
It wasn't until I put my faith and trust in the Lord Jesus for my salvation, that I longed for a deep and intimate prayer life...
In Jesus' day Jews had prayers that were both spontaneous and traditional. Jesus would pray the same prayers at certain times of day... every day. For centuries, these prayers have changed very little.
Many believers today prefer spontaneous prayer, than prayer that often feels like we are just going through the motions. Many people feel that rote prayer is often hollow and meaningless.
We need to take a lesson from the Jewish rabis. They developed a concept called KAVANA.
Kavana means direction, intention or devotion. It carries with it the beautiful word picture of setting your thoughts and everything in us in the direction of God. It means to pray a memorized prayer with every fiber... with our whole mind, will, emotion and intellect. It is praying with our whole heart!
If we practice kavana in prayer, every part of us is straining towards God and every word we say has our complete attention.
Even though we might have said the Lord's Prayer a million times, when we pray practicing kavanah our focus is so intense... we are expecting to see or feel or know something... an insight from the prayer that we had never noticed before.
I think kavana is practicing the presence of God!
In every Jewish synagogue there is an ark (an ornate cabinet) that holds the scrolls of the Torah and often above it is a plaque that says...
KNOW BEFORE WHOM YOU STAND
We all would do well to remember this... whether we are praying or not!
Don't forget the God of the Universe, the King, the Majesty is who we address in prayer!
Kavana can also go beyond prayer. It can apply to our life in general. We can
practice the presence of God in our lives... every minute!
Shouldn't we live every second with love and devotion and INTENTION for the Father? If we can pursue God with our whole being and heart what a life it would be!!
One of my favorite scriptures is Romans 12 :1
Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship.
Paul is saying... Look at what God has done for you!!!! He has blessed you and ransomed you with the blood of His Son. He cares for you and loves you with an everlasting love. He lavishes upon you undeserved blessings upon undeserved blessings! You did nothing to deserve this. It is only because of who HE is that He has mercy on you!
Because of this knowledge the only reasonable response to what God has done for you is to give all of you over to Him... like a sacrifice! You can worship God with your whole body and whole life for all of your life.
Now that's living out the concept of kavana in a big way!
As we enter this time of National prayer and Thanksgiving... pray with every fiber in you... run hard after God... and live for Him as a way of worshiping Him.
Practice the presence of God and KNOW BEFORE WHOM YOU STAND!