Praying Formulas

Zach Alexander Flickr cc
I thought this photo was funny. A sidewalk prayer booth complete with a nicely padded kneeling stoop. Kind of the opposite of praying in your room behind closed doors. It makes me think of the Pharisees Jesus said prayed loud in the streets for everyone to hear.

By Tiffany Deluccia

I can be guilty of praying on the go far more than in my room with the door shut. Or how about the rehearsed two sentences that run through my head before I eat a meal? Talk about a prayer formula. There’s nothing intimate, calming and focused about it. We need time to shut out the world and talk to God. Slow down. Distraction-free.

“For your Father knows the things you have need of before you ask Him. In this manner, therefore, 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 this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one. For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.” Matthew 6:8-13

Jesus knew we’d struggle with prayer, so He spelled out for us exactly how to do it. The Lord’s prayer that begins in Matthew 6:9 isn’t for repeating (despite all my experience reciting it as a team before AAU basketball games); it’s for following. It’s not a formula, even though you may have heard it called the “model prayer.” It was Jesus’ way of showing us what He talked to God about, and how he approached Him.

When you’re in your room, world barred out by your door latch, and you’re not sure where to start — read this verse and follow suit. Learn how to approach God. He’s very approachable, believe it or not.

Tell God what He means to you, why you love Him. Align yourself with His will; pray it will be done in your life and in your world.

Ask for what you need. Jesus says in verse 8 that the Father knows what you need before you ask. But He still tells you to ask. Asking is your heart’s way of saying you rely on God to meet your needs instead of yourself or someone else.

Repent and forgive. Ask God to show you anything in your life that isn’t of Him. Ask Him to show you any bitterness you’re brewing. You won’t have a huge revelation in this area every time you pray, so don’t feel like you have to nitpick yourself for every tiny thing. Get in the habit of asking and trusting God to grow you in holiness and reveal to you things that need attention.

(For all of you who struggle with guilt, don’t allow yourself to be tempted! God doesn’t beat you up for mistakes or require you to apologize repeatedly and serve penance. He just wants your heart and your love! You should never leave a time of prayer feeling like you were run over by the Mack truck of guilt.)

Ask God to lead and protect you.

Acknowledge the whole world is His.

Jesus gave us a model for connecting with God and for hearing from Him — His own model for communicating with His Father. What an incredible gift! If there’s one thing I need to do more in 2014, it’s pray. Will you join me?

Photo Credit: Zach Alexander via Flickr cc

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