Faith Column: What is prayer?
Prayer is talking to God. At least that is the simple definition Christians have become accustomed to. Prayer is very simple and yet complex.
At the Journey, we have been focusing on “The Lord’s Prayer” for several years in an effort to take a next step in our individual and corporate understanding and experience of prayer.
What we call “The Lord’s Prayer” is the rendering found in the Bible in Matthew chapter 6 in the middle of the “Sermon on the Mount” — Jesus’ longest recorded discourse.
There is another rendering in Luke’s gospel in Chapter 11 and is in response to the disciple’s request: “Lord, teach us to pray …”
The two renderings take place about a year apart and are similar, but not exactly the same, leading me to conclude that as much as Jesus is encouraging us to recite these words He is also (and maybe more so) teaching us a pattern for prayer.
The pattern looks like this:
• Reverence — Our Father who art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name
• Response — Thy kingdom come; thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven
• Requests — Give us this day our daily bread and forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us
• Readiness — Lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil
Prayer should begin and be seasoned with worship and adoration of the God of the universe who has privileged us, in Christ, to call Him Father. This Reverence of God and His name should evoke a Response of submission, confession and repentance — God’s will be done (not mine) and His kingdom come.
After we have worshipped well and surrendered completely, we are ready to make our Requests. When we are centered spiritually this way in prayer, we can ask in faith and know that God hears us and cares and our petition will not be selfish.
In the book of James we read: “… You do not have because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, so that you may spend it on your pleasures …”
The last part of the pattern Jesus gave us in His prayer is Readiness. It is interesting to note that most of the times we read about Jesus praying, especially when he was alone praying, the following scene is an interaction with a person or people who need supernatural intervention.
Jesus seems to have understood the importance of being “prayed up” before encountering this crazy world in which we live. If there is ever a time to be prayed up, it is now!
Prayer at any time for any reason is a good thing. Silent prayer, corporate prayer, prayer before meals, meetings and ministry and in blessing of people and events, prayer born out of distress or despair, joy and celebration; praying without ceasing — it’s all good and appropriate.
My desire for myself and those I lead is to take a next step of understanding of and experience in prayer; prayer that is scripture fed, Spirit led and worship based.
Pastor Len Browning is the lead pastor at the Journey Church in Craig. He may be reached at email@example.com.
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