Sunday, February 9, 2014

How to pray

Click on to, type in practically any "how to" question and up will pop an array of answers, many in easy to follow, step-by-step directions.
Take for example, "How to Make a Peanut Butter and Jelly Sandwich: 4 Steps." First, you get your ingredients together: bread (usually one or two slices per sandwich, the site says), peanut butter and jelly or jam. Next there are steps accompanied by video. Step one: spread peanut butter evenly onto one slice of bread using a knife. Easy enough. Step two: spread jelly or jam evenly onto the other slice of bread with a teaspoon or knife. Step three: press the two slices of bread together. Step 4: enjoy your easy and yummy looking sandwich!
Well, thanks to wikiHow we all now know how to make a proper and delicious PB&J. But maybe you had already mastered that delicate technique. Maybe you are onto more complex culinary dishes. Maybe you want to roast a duck! Well, do not fear, wikiHow has seventeen steps to easily guide you through the process.
WikiHow contains a wealth of knowledge and it doesn't end in the kitchen. Did you know that you can get marital counseling on wikiHow? "How to Communicate to Save Your Marriage: 14 Steps" is here to rescue your failing marriage - in simple and easy to follow steps, accompanied by pictures. And you thought you had to shell out a hundred dollars an hour for some "specialist" with a degree and a couple of letters by their name. Not so. All you need is an internet connection.
WikiHow teaches the communication-impared how to utilize specific "tools" to improve communication with one's partner. Time, an understanding attitude, patience and empathy are the fundamentals of what wikiHow deems "good communication" and the fourteen steps they outline are built on these principles. Put them into practice and you just might be able to save your marriage.
The basic principle of communication being key to marriage success isn't unique to wikiHow. Books, websites, counselors and magazine articles love to talk about how communication is crucial and how couples can improve their communication with long walks on the beach, date nights, heart-to-heart talks and being willing to say, "I'm sorry." WikiHow breaks it down into steps. Other resources break it down into one hundred and one conversation starts or five love languages. Some authors even try to fix a broken marriage by not talking about it - a real book that gets rave reviews if you ask readers on!
Are self-help books and step-by-step instructions really the key to communication success? In putting all of the focus on husbands' and wives' ability to talk are we missing the truly severed communication system?
Our most fundamental and important communication partner is God. All the other lines of communication are secondary. Husband and wife, mother and daughter, best friends - they all matter but our communication with God is not only the most important, it is the key to all the rest of our communication success.
Is there a wikiHow on how to communicate with God? In fact, there is, but you don't need an internet connection to learn how to talk with God. Just open your Bible and learn from Jesus.
Jesus took time alone, separated from His disciples and then, to pray. In Luke 6:12 a simple sentence tells us exactly what Jesus did, "In these days he went out to the mountain to pray, and all night he continued in prayer to God." Jesus stepped away from the world around Him so He could step into a more intimate exchange with God. He chose the solitude and quiet of a lonely mountaintop to talk with God. 
Not only did Jesus display in His actions how to communicate with God, but He laid it out with words as clear to understand as a wikiHow article. In the Sermon on the Mount He told us exactly how we are to pray: 
 “And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full.  But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.  And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words.  Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him. This, then, is how you should pray: “‘Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done,  on earth as it is in heaven. Give us today our daily bread. And forgive us our debts,  as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one" (Matthew 6:5-13).
Jesus made it undeniably clear in His words spoken on the Mount that communication is key. Taking time set apart to talk with God and listen to Him speak is of vital importance to the health and wellbeing of our relationship with Him. Jesus displayed the necessity of good communication in His words and deeds. Even as He was dying on the cross to save you and I from our sins, He spoke to His Father. He cried out to Him in honest and heartfelt communication. Jesus Christ, sinless, blameless and perfect, reached out to God and searched out God's voice. If it was vital to His life, how critical it is for ours as well! 
All good relationships require good communication. Both our earthly relationships and the relationship with our God in Heaven. To know how a friend or loved one thinks and feels you must talk to them. So how can we expect to know God if we never talk to Him and, more importantly, listen to Him? The lines of communication must be open. When we follow the directions and example of Jesus' prayer life we will have the successful communication that is the hallmark of a good relationship. 
WikiHow can't provide the secret to successful communication in marriage by giving a list of steps. Let them guide you on how to make a PB&J but leave the communication to the Bible. Jesus has already given us the guidance and direction we need. By following in His footsteps and obeying His words we can have the most precious of exchanges by communicating regularly, wholeheartedly and passionately with our Father God. 

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