Tag Archives: how to pray

Chatter and Groanings

Several years ago my oldest boys and I were on a trip and my wife was home with the younger boys.  The youngest was just beginning to talk.  He was often quite serious about things and, as they were praying in the evening for us, he decided to chime in.  He prayed in some unknown tongue, with a fervent heart, rattling on to Jesus.  No one but Jesus knows what that little guy, just one year old, had to say that day.  We had a safe and very special trip.

God hears the prayers of those who look to Him.  He knows our hearts.  He knows what we are trying to say, even when we can’t get the words just right.

 Likewise the Spirit also helps in our weaknesses. For we do not know what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. Romans 8:26

Have you ever been too distraught or too confused or too overwhelmed to pray?  Have you ever entered the presence of the Lord with groans?  If you have, then you know that the Spirit is able to take those sighs and groanings to the Father on our behalf.  He hears and He understands.  When we don’t even know what to say, He says it for us.

The Lord loves you.  He loves to have you come to Him.  He wants you to be with Him.  He wants to bless you, protect you, and care for you.

Prayer is not magic!  We do not have incantations of words to memorize for certain actions or results.  We must never think that way.  There is not a magical formula for us to use in order to receive what we need.  Prayer does nothing for us by itself.  Prayer is simply a tool we use to connect our hearts to the Lord’s heart.

And if groaning is acceptable, then what difference would it make what posture we use?  Would loud groaning be better than quiet or silent groaning?  Do you see how silly some of these teachings are?  Our Lord loves us and He hears us when we come to Him.

I believe that God hears the prayers of infants who come to Him.  I believe that God hears the prayers of people suffering from mental or emotional illness or impairment.  I believe God hears us when we don’t know what to say or say the wrong thing.  I believe God listens past the words and hears our hearts.

Our heart to His heart.  That’s what prayer is.

Your thoughts?


Filed under Freedom, grace, Legalism, Relationship

The Lord’s Prayer

It is a particular shame that we have ruined the Lord’s Prayer.  When the disciples came to Jesus to ask Him to teach them how to pray, He gave them something simple.  But first, He told them not to pray like the hypocrites and the heathen.  How did the hypocrites and the heathen pray?  Well, they prayed so that others could hear them and they repeated the same words over and over without regard to what they were saying.  Some of them thought they would get special blessings from many repetitions.

So Jesus said not to pray like that.  But what did we do?  We took the words, the example, He gave the disciples and we memorized it so we could say it together in church.  We made the Lord’s Prayer a vain repetition.  But it wasn’t meant to be that.  It was meant to be an example.  Jesus said: When you pray, pray like this.

Read the words of the Lord’s Prayer as given in the Message.  See if it doesn’t feel a lot more like a friend talking with a friend:

Our Father in heaven, Reveal who you are.

Set the world right; Do what’s best— as above, so below.

Keep us alive with three square meals.

Keep us forgiven with you and forgiving others.

Keep us safe from ourselves and the Devil.

You’re in charge! You can do anything you want!

You’re ablaze in beauty! Yes. Yes. Yes.

Matthew 6:9-13

What do you think?  Would that pass the muster as an example of prayer today?  It is almost random in structure, just like our thoughts.  It is simple, just like we are.  It is specific and general at the same time, just like our concerns.  I think Jesus gave us an “off-the-cuff” prayer, not something for us to formalize and make the official prayer of our faith.

Sometimes an impromptu prayer is the very best kind.

What do you think?


Filed under Freedom, Legalism, Relationship

Stop Praying!

Does God require a certain type of prayer?

Over the past few years of counseling, I have encountered a surprising number of people who told me that they could no longer pray.  They had come out of a legalistic home and prayer had been part of that structure.  Now, every time they tried to prayer, they felt so full of shame and bondage that they had to stop.  It wasn’t just that they were bound to a certain method of prayer; it was that prayer itself had become bondage.

This must be one of the most pernicious and most effective strategies of the evil one.  Prayer is our lifeline.  Our ongoing conversation with the Lord who loves us and is with us is a vital part of our Christian walk.  If the evil one succeeds in taking prayer from us through his lies, then we have lost something of great value.

So here’s an idea of what I tell people: Stop trying to pray.  Just stop praying. 

Instead, just stop once in a while to think about the fact that the Lord is with you and He loves you.  He accepts you and does not condemn you.  He is your friend because He wants to be your friend.  He has only good thoughts toward you.  This is Jesus, who lived a life much like yours and who is with you to walk with you through your life.  He is God and He is good and He smiles when He thinks of you.

Now, if you just sit there and enjoy His presence with you, that’s fine.  But if you feel like talking to Him, go ahead.  Just don’t pray.  He will hear you.  You can ask Him questions.  You can tell Him how you are feeling.  You can tell Him what has upset you.  You don’t have to do anything.  You don’t have to close your eyes or fold your hands.  Just talk with Him as you would a friend—if you want, you don’t have to even do that much.  You certainly don’t have to pray. 

And then listen for Him to respond.  He might speak deeply into your heart.  You might hear words of love.  He may arrange circumstances as an answer or send someone to walk with you.  But He does love you and He will answer you.  You don’t need to pray.

Now, of course, if they talk with Jesus in that private time, they are certainly praying.  But they don’t think of that as prayer because prayer had all kinds of baggage from the past.  So get “prayer” out of the way.  Just bring them to Jesus.

Your thoughts?


Filed under Freedom, grace, Legalism, Relationship

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…


Filed under grace, heart, Legalism, Relationship