If we are going to pray well, we need to know something about the one we are praying to.
So here's the first lesson in prayer: God loves to reward us.
Do you mind if I say it again? God loves to reward us.
I repeat myself, because the first lesson of prayer is that God loves to reward us.
"Anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him." (Hebrews 11:6, NIV.)
Look a few verses around the Lord's Prayer and you will find the word 'reward' seven times.
Some people might object to this: isn't it better to serve God without looking for a reward? Well, I guess it depends on the kind of rewards that you are looking for.
Jesus starts his famous sermon by listing people that God will reward .... people who will be called God's children, people who will be filled, people who will see God.
So here's the second lesson in prayer: do it to please God. Don't try and impress others, for God won't reward you for that.
Try it now, or soon. Take a few moments to pray. Make it your sole aim to please God. Tell him you want his rewards.
As the season of Christmas comes to an end, one more thought about angels.
Angels get a lot of press in the Christmas story. They are the news announcers, telling people what God is doing and telling them the right way to respond. You are going to have a baby ... don't be afraid to marry her ... go to Bethlehem ... flee to Egypt etc etc.
And they don't stop their work when Jesus grows up. They help him at the hardest times. They are there at the resurrection. But they are not just there for the big events.
Jesus tells us not to look down on the little ones who believe in him. He means the people that others don't notice, the people we think are not important or significant. Don't despise them, says Jesus. Their angels in heaven always see the face of the Father in heaven.
Do you feel insignificant? There are angels looking after you who always see God's face. Do you look down on others? They have angels who always see God's face. When Jesus was reduced to nothing, the angels were there. He has now approached the Father with the holy angels.
I believe in angels. But it's not just about believing in them. It's about believing they are there for the ones that are written off. And for the ones who are under attack. I need to hear their message again.