It’s Monday Grace!
If you were the devil, wouldn’t you want to try to stop people from talking with the Lord? And, if you couldn’t outright stop them from praying, wouldn’t you want to make prayer into a duty or a chore? This is just what I think the devil has done for many people, even many sincere believers.
When we were connected with the legalist teachers, prayer was taught as a formula and a duty. We could look down on Catholics with their rosaries, but never understand that we did the same thing with our repetitions and shallow cliches. In fact, many prayers uttered in groups or families were ways to make the speaker look more spiritual. Either that or opportunities for mini-sermons.
Basically, prayer became something to endure rather than enjoy. I remember as a boy when our home pastor would pray. We were supposed to stand. He loved to pray! He was a good man who knew the Lord, but I think he sometimes forgot about the rest of us. We stood and, unless we held onto the pew in front of us, would begin to waver back and forth until it felt like we might fall down. It was a relief when it finally ended.
Is that what prayer is? An endurance test? Or a duty? Or a way to show off? I don’t think so.
We were told something many readers may have heard. The word ACTS is a way to remember how to pray: adoration, confession, thanksgiving, supplication. Then we were told to have equal amounts of each and keep our prayers in that order. Only after we had satisfied the requirements of the others would we bring our supplications, our requests, to the Lord. So, if we came in our worry or shame or need and circumvented the “right” process, our prayer was sinful. Anyone remember that?
I think the devil liked that one. It was so spiritual, yet made real prayer so distant. It was superior to the way anyone prayed, even the folks in the Bible. But, hold on, if it is different from the way the people of the Bible prayed, why is it taught? In fact, who says this is a better way? Hmmm.
Now, I am not against these four kinds of prayer. There are times when I just stop to give my Lord the adoration I feel in my heart. There are times when I come to Him with confession. These are good things. If this was a list of the kinds of prayer, I would be happy with it. But that was not the way it was presented.
When you consider the way people prayed in the Scripture and the way believers have prayed over the centuries, a formula like this misses the mark. Many of the Psalms, for example, are prayers. How many of them use this formula?
This is not the forum to teach in depth on prayer. I may write more on it someday. But here’s my suggestion. If you look at the prayers of the Bible, you will see that most of them have two simple parts, the same parts you would naturally bring to the Lord. Ready?
Ask Him and thank Him.
That’s it. I confess that I have not done an exhaustive study on all the prayers of the Bible to come to this. You are welcome to do that and correct me, if you think I am wrong. As I see the natural flow of prayer represented in the lives of those people who interacted with the Lord as a real Person, I see them asking and thanking. Yes, there are other kinds of prayer, but the people came to the Lord in their need and asked for His help. Then they thanked Him.
Sometimes they thanked Him and then asked. Sometimes they just asked.
When you are in need, the Lord wants you to call out to Him. He asks you to pray. He doesn’t expect you to go through seven steps to reach His heart, or even four. He expects you to bring your need. Bringing your need to Him, trusting Him with the cry of your heart, is real prayer. Not only is there nothing wrong with it, it is what He expects.
Don’t let the evil one take prayer from your life. Don’t let him make it into something you dread. Instead, allow your heart to connect with the Lord who loves you. Share with Him the concerns of your heart. Thank Him for the assurance of His love.
Prayer is a lifeline to the Lord. Through it, the burdens of our hearts are shared with the One who truly cares and can do something. And, yes, be prepared to listen for or watch for His response. He loves you.
“Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:6–7, NKJV)