How do you pray?
Do you set aside intentional time, sit with a list of prayer concerns, and go straight into intercession? Do you pray spontaneously throughout the day as random needs present themselves? Do you only pray on Sundays when the pastor leads you? Do you say grace at meals?
Prayer is such a personal and individual thing. At its heart, prayer is simply our opportunity to speak with our loving parent who is always ready and able to have any conversation we desire. I know God has heard my most complex and my silliest, simplest prayers, and I am so grateful for his love and attention … especially when I am running up a big hill and pray, “Oh, Lord, just get me up this hill. Amen.” The fact that I am sitting in a chair writing this morning is evidence that God has gotten me up every big hill that I have ever encountered in my life. Thanks be to God!
When Jesus instructed his disciples how to pray in a passage that we refer to as “the Lord’s Prayer,” he was offering a basic outline for how we might fashion our prayers. There is no right or wrong way to pray. Scripture assures us that God even hears our prayers that are expressed in “sighs and groans.”
26 In the same way, the Spirit comes to help our weakness. We don’t know what we should pray, but the Spirit himself pleads our case with unexpressed groans. (Romans 8: 26)
So let us take a moment to unpack Jesus’ prescription for prayer:
Matthew 6 (Common English Bible)
9 Pray like this:
Our Father who is in heaven,
uphold the holiness of your name.
Point 1: acknowledge God’s holiness.
10 Bring in your kingdom
so that your will is done on earth as it’s done in heaven.
Point 2: Ask for God’s will to be done in your situation.
11 Give us the bread we need for today.
Point 3: Ask for what you need.
12 Forgive us for the ways we have wronged you,
just as we also forgive those who have wronged us.
Point 4: Ask for forgiveness but be ready to offer that same forgiveness to the people around you who have hurt you. Yep, that’s what it means.
13 And don’t lead us into temptation,
but rescue us from the evil one.
Point 5: Petition God for his protection against all manner of evil that comes at you in the form of temptation.
Jesus offers this short outline as a place to start when we sit down to talk to our Father. It is important enough to be included in every protestant denomination’s order of worship and worship liturgies, including weddings and funerals. But do you know what is even more important than reciting the Lord’s Prayer? Just talking to God.
Take some time today to have a conversation with your Abba today. Use words if necessary.