(Jesus said) “And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full.
But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen.
Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. 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. This, then, is how you should 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 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.”
DID YOU KNOW?
First century Gentiles commonly believed long prayers coaxed and appeased their gods to action. This idea had made its way into Jewish thought. In contrast, Jesus is presenting God as a relational Father who listens to prayers of anyone who seeks Him—whether long or short, repeated or fresh.
1 | THE PROBLEM WITH PRAYER
Prayer doesn’t feel real when God doesn't feel real. God is closer than you think.
“God did this so that they would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from any one of us.”
“Earth’s crammed with heaven,
And every common bush afire with God;
But only he who sees, takes off his shoes—
The rest sit round it and pluck blackberries....”
—ELIZABETH BARRETT BROWNING
2 | THE POSTURE OF PRAYER
Prayer becomes real when I get real.
“Then Abraham spoke up again: “Now that I have been so bold as to speak to the Lord, though I am nothing but dust and ashes, what if the number of the righteous is five less than fifty? Will you destroy the whole city for lack of five people?” “If I find forty-five there,” he said, “I will not destroy it.”
“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.”
“Prayer is when your deepest desires and hopes and fears leak out of your mouth with no inhibition. It’s when you talk to God with the edit button in the off position and you feel safe and heard and loved.”
—JOHN MARK COMER
“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.”
“You’ve kept track of my every toss and turn through the sleepless nights, each tear entered in your ledger, each ache written in your book.”
3 | THE PRACTICE OF PRAYER
CREATE A DESERT
“God walks ‘slowly’ because he is love. If he is not love he would have gone much faster. Love has its speed. It is an inner speed. It is a spiritual speed.... The people of God were taught the truth of bread and the word of God in the wilderness as they walked three miles an hour by the three mile an hour God.”
• Identify distractions
• Set aside a daily desert time & place
• Practice real life desert moments
TRY DIFFERENT EXPRESSIONS OF PRAYER
- Read prayers written by other people. Consider:
- Every Moment Holy – Volume 1 by Douglas McKelvey
- The Valley of Vision by Arthur Bennett
- Pray through the Lord’s Prayer (Matthew 6)
- Pray one scripture for a week
- Write out your prayer in a journal
- Read a book on prayer
- How to Pray: A Simple Guide for Normal People by Pete Greig
- If You Will Ask by Oswald Chambers
- Prayer by Timothy Keller
- Download the Lectio 365 Prayer App and start your day with a guided prayer session
- Pray in the Spirit