This is part two of a post that began on Monday and can be found here if you wish.
So then, if we shouldn’t pick and choose different lines out of the Bible to make one glorious prayer that will get us exactly what we want, how should we pray?
David brings up Matthew 6:5-8 where we learn we are to not be like the hypocrites (Pharisees) making sure others see us praying and go into our inner room because the Father sees what we do in private. We are not to use meaningless repetition and remember that our Lord knows what we need before we ask.
In Matthew 6:7-13 Jesus’ instructs his disciples by giving them what we commonly call “The Lord’s Prayer”. If you break this prayer down to its bones you can easily see the directive. We should:
- Begin our prayers with praise, adoration, and worship. One of the neatest things that’s come out of being a BSF group leader has been during our leader’s meeting every Saturday morning. When we gather to pray, we break into smaller groups of 3-5 and begin with praise. We tell God who He is. Obviously He knows who He is, but I find it very special to bring my heart into a right relationship by telling Him I know He is faithful, the Alpha and Omega, my Healer, my Rock, my Fortress in times of trouble. David Arthur puts it this way: “We’re telling our heavenly Father that He is God and we are not. He is the one who gives and we are the ones who receive. This demonstrates to both God and to our own hearts that we are dependent on Him.”
- Move into thanksgiving. Next we move into a period where we thank God for who He is and what He has done. I thank Him for the gift of His Son, the indwelling of His Holy Spirit, answering previous prayer, or His handling of a particular situation. I might thank Him for His timing (which is perfect) and for helping me to wait and submit to His timing. I may even thank Him for what I know He will do. All of the gratitude puts my heart in the right place. God is bigger than me and I trust Him completely.
- Seek. If you follow the prayer that Jesus laid out you will find that we are to seek His will, His guidance, His provision, His forgiveness, and His protection. Then do just that:
- Lord, may your will be done and help me to accept it if I cannot understand it.
- Lord, please give me wisdom in (___) situation …
- I need … (requests for yourself and others)
- Please forgive me for … (or help me to forgive ___)
- Lord, protect me (and others) or do not let me …
There are a myriad of other “ways” to pray as well. There is the ACTS model (adoration, confession, thanksgiving, supplication) and my tried and true model (from a 1984 version of the NIV Disciple’s Study Bible from Cornerstone) PTCPI – which of course doesn’t spell anything but stands for praise, thanksgiving, confession, petition, intercession.
Another favorite of mine is to pray actual Scripture. If you are unfamiliar with the Psalms I want you to get in there and devour them immediately! But, if you don’t know them very well, you can actually Google “psalm for ____” whatever you’d like to pray about … justice, mercy, comfort, love, safety, etc. and it will return a bunch that you can look up. For our purposes, I went ahead and Googled “psalm for healing” and chose Psalm 103 out of the list that appeared.
A quick read of the psalm shows me that the best verses for what I want to pray are 1 through 5. I find that this psalm actually begins with praise and we read (in the HCSB),
My soul, praise Yahweh, and all that is within me, praise His holy name. My soul, praise the Lord, and do not forget all His benefits.
~ Psalm 103: 1-2
It’s interesting to me that I chose this particular psalm from the list in Google. Whenever a word in Scripture is repeated three times, in this case “praise,” it becomes emphatic or superlative. Usually you’ll see “holy, holy, holy” meaning God’s otherness – that he is completely and unequivocally separated from sin. In this case the thrice repeated “praise” is the highest form of worship … the utmost praise upon praise upon praise. At the end of verse two we also read that we aren’t to forget His benefits meaning His blessings. What a perfect example to how I started today’s post! But I don’t mean to lecture. What you would want to do is pray this psalm – and I mean, make it personal between you and God.
Here’s how I would do it: My soul, praise Yahweh! With all I am, my heart, my body, the very fiber of my being, I praise you my heavenly Father. You are like no other. There is no one higher than You. You have always been and You always will be. How comforting that is to me. Your name is above all names now and forevermore. Oh my soul, praise my Lord and Savior! My Rock and my Redeemer. You chose me from the beginning of time and have brought me to this day. You have been with me throughout my life and know what is still to come. I can be secure in my future Lord, because you chose me, have sanctified me, and love me with a love I can’t even fathom. The peace I feel from that knowledge is unmeasurable. Glory! Thank you, Father.
I could go on but you can see how I took these two verses and made them personal. And that’s all any good prayer is, a conversation between you and the Almighty. If you’ve never prayed this way, I urge you to try it. You will be amazed at how, with the opening of your heart and God’s very own words before you, your own words will just flow. Some of my most satisfying prayers have been prayed in this manner.
On Friday we’ll wrap up prayer … aww … must we? I so love this discipline!
Praying your hump day is full of love and laughter!
** Image from The Bible Miniseries – I use it because we know that Jesus liked to get away by himself to pray.