The “Right” Prayer

There are few things as messed up in the Christian life as prayer.  One of the most important parts of our life is placed in bondage by rules and standards.  As we continue to look at odd things people learn in church, I want to take a couple days to consider this:

“The right prayer will change God’s mind.” 

What do you say when you pray?  Do you say the right thing?  If you feel that your prayers are not being answered, is it because you might not be praying right?   When you really need God to act, do you have the right kind of prayer?

Some teachers say that prayer is the way to get God to do what you need Him to do.  But, they say, you have to pray in the right way.  We all know that we are not supposed to pray with our eyes open, right?  Hands folded, eyes closed, head bowed.  Some say we are never to stand in prayer, but always to kneel.  Sometimes, if we really need something, we should lay right down on the ground or the floor, flat on our face before God, they say.

Some teach that we should always use respectful language, formal words from the King James Version.  God responds better to “thee” and “thou,” I suppose.  Some say that we should keep our mouths closed, never actually speak.  Others say that God will hear better if we shout.  Loud prayers are the best for them.  Some, of course, believe that the only real way to pray is in your spiritual tongue, which only God understands.

Then, of course, we have the words that should be said.  Should we always confess our sins, as some say?  Should we just ask for what we need or should we bargain?  Some teach that we should start with Adoration, then Confess our sins, then Thank God for what He has already done, and finally bring our Supplication or request.  A.C.T.S.  They even give us an acronym so we will remember.  And, in some of the older and more formal denominations, prayer is a litany of memorized words repeated as praise and request together.

So, you see, if God is like our dads or our bosses, we will want to approach Him in the right way if we are to get Him to change His mind.

Now, imagine that you have an urgent need.  Something tragic is happening.  You want God to act and fast.  Do you shout?  Do you plead?  Do you take the time to confess your sins?  What if you pray in the wrong way?

Can you feel the bondage here?  Do you think God wants you to be worrying about how to address Him or what posture you should use?  In the midst of crisis, you need Him.

More tomorrow…

7 Comments

Filed under grace, heart, Legalism, Relationship

7 responses to “The “Right” Prayer

  1. Rebekah Grace

    Sometimes I’m so taken aback that I don’t know what to say. I’m so lacking in Bible verse memorization, theological knowledge, and overall ability to take Bible stories of old and bring them into our very modern world to help make sense of them, to us, today. But, when I read stuff like this, I wonder…..who do we think God is anyway? If I have to ‘get something right’ now, today….why did Jesus come all those years ago? Could it be that God knew a need before we did? Imagine!

    Sometimes I’m still so stuck in my ‘rebellious’ label and have had some validate it for me, that I assume my simplistic attitude towards the entire Christian life is wrong, or rebellious.

    Looking forward to more on this. Thanks!!

    • You know, if seeing the Christian life as simple is rebellious, then I am certainly rebellious with you. Jesus said the yoke was easy and the burden was light. Few people have experienced that in the legalist church.

  2. I remember an old radio program with J. Vernon McGee. He spoke once on the topic of prayer position. I don’t know where he got this:

    “The proper way for a man to pray,” said Deacon Lemuel Keyes,
    “And the only proper attitude is down upon his knees.”
    “No, I should say the way to pray,” said Rev. Doctor Wise,
    “Is standing straight with outstretched arms and rapt and upturned eyes.”
    “Oh, no; no, no,” said Elder Slow, “Such posture is too proud:
    A man should pray with eyes fast closed and head contritely bowed.”
    “It seems to me his hands should be austerely clasped in front.
    With both thumbs pointing toward the ground,” said Rev. Doctor Blunt.
    “Las’ year I fell in Hodgkin’s well head first,” said Cyrus Brown,
    “With both my heels a-stickin’ up, my head
    a-pinting down;
    “An’ I made a prayer right then an’ there– best prayer I ever said,
    The prayingest prayer I ever prayed, a-standing on my head.” 🙂
    God bless you J. Vernon McGee.

    • I have always had a soft spot in my heart for Dr. McGee. In fact, I just bought a complete set of his radio program on mp3 at a thrift store. He had a lot of wisdom.

      So did you memorize that little poem? It is great! I have never heard it, but I really like it. Thanks so much for sharing it!

  3. Suzanne

    There have been so many rules about prayer that it has become to me more like writing a message and sticking it in a bottle and throwing it into the vast wide ocean. I hope against hope that it will get there and even if it does, do I dare hope for a response?

    • That’s actually a Biblical image, from Ecclesiastes 11. In the rough times of our lives, the “if anyone’s out there” prayer may be all we have. Sometimes we just throw all hope on the belief that He loves us. And maybe that’s the most sincere prayer of all.

  4. i’ve found this video about “Praying Earnestly”

    – grace and peace

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