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.
Like a number of Christ-followers who attended church from the time their names were finger-painted on the cradle roll, I cut my teeth on The Book of Common Prayer that guided our congregation through years of prayer and worship services. I have a true respect and fondness for the path of endurance this book has forged through the history of Christ’s Church as well as staunch admiration for the individuals who sacrificed their own lives to save its life and keep it moving along that path.
But have you ever stopped to realize that, as valuable a resource as this book is to us, the Bible – Scripture itself – is our original and most useful prayer-book? It never fails to offer thought-provoking motivation for communicating with God and, in fact, even gives clear instruction as to how we are to go about that communication. Stay with me for a moment even if you’re not the chatty type. Take the challenge to reach deeply into the Word of God and I can guarantee that there will never be a lull in subject matter for your conversation with Him.
One of the most well known models for prayer comes from Christ Himself and follows immediately on the heels of today’s passage of focus. Matthew 6:9-13 is a passage so familiar to many believers that it can often be quoted from memory as The Lord’s prayer. Take time to read – really read – its words from the NIV, then note the observations that follow.
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
Every word of every line overflows with meaning and insight. Consider, for example, the concepts they teach in regard to forming a habit of sincere and genuine prayer.
- The passage keeps things simple. If you’re looking for impressive vocabulary words, lengthy sentences or in-depth literary structure, you won’t find them here. Its frame and vocabulary are as simple as the heartfelt cry of a child to his or her Father. The take-away here is that we need to avoid feeding a desire to impress God and simply talk to Him.
- The passage covers every area of the Christian lifestyle. Despite its aforementioned simplicity, its scope is amazingly broad – covering everything from glorification of God to human relationships and our own day-to-day needs to our past, our present, our future. Even better, it allows us to invite God’s involvement into every nook and cranny of our lives.
- The passage focuses more directly on God than it focuses on us. Most of us at some point have tended to pray as if it’s all about us – ourselves, our family, our friends, our foes – so let’s admit it and resolve to correct it. God absolutely wants us to bring our care and burdens to Him, but at the same time there is a higher level in prayer that brings us a unique joy. It is at this level that we set aside our to-do list and talk to God about His to-do list; for example, His will for our lives.
- Finally, keep in mind that this passage is an outline or model on which we are to base our prayers. Unless we spend time fleshing out the framework, we risk its words serving as a second-hand recitation instead of a conversation we actively and deliberately pursue. Christ Himself demonstrates this idea in His own prayer as recorded in John 17.
Conclude Day 11 by reading Christ’s prayer in your Bible or online here, then answer the following questions and documenting your PRAYER conversation for today in light of your reflections.
How does Christ flesh out the framework for The Lord’s Prayer in His own prayer?
What examples, if any, does He set that you would like to incorporate into your prayer
Please see Day 1 of the series for suggested content regarding the PRAYER conversation associated with this series.
Praise and Thanksgiving:
Copyright 2017 Carole Anne Hallyburton. All rights reserved.