You are about to read Part III of a three-part series about prayer. If you need to catch up or want to review click here for Part I and click here for Part II.
Backing Up a Few Steps to Clarify Something
I wrote something last week that I want to clarify before moving on with today's final thoughts on prayer. As I reread the previous post, I noticed that I said, Jesus didn't give specifics about physical posture or exact wordings. Either no one read this, everyone understood what I meant in the context, or you nice readers don't want to challenge me in the comments, because I read it and thought, but He did give us the Lord's prayer, which sure seems like exact wording, doesn't it? What I mean by saying Jesus didn't give us exact wordings is this, though the Lord did instruct us how to pray by the Lord's prayer, there was no "magic" in it, so to speak. Jesus did not instruct us to repeat specific prayers in particular ways to get God to do things our way or somehow earn His favor. Jesus instructed us to pray to relate to our Father who is in heaven, rightly, sincerely, submissively, and trustingly. Perhaps my clarification was unnecessary, but I wanted to get that out there before moving on to some concluding thoughts on prayer. Here we go, then!
Hope and Encouragement for our Prayer Lives
As I thought about prayer for this seminar, I realized that what I want is for prayer to be formulaic. Like getting paid for hours put in at work or getting candy for the coins I put into a vending machine, I want to know how long to pray and what words to say to get the desire result. I want to be able to box it up real nice like. But we all know prayer is not like that.
Prayer is dynamic because it's communication within a familial relationship, a familial relationship with the God of the universe. As such, prayer is a means of spiritual transformation, not a business transaction.
Do you want it to be formulaic like me? It seems like it would be so much easier, doesn't it. But then it would be just as moving and life-changing as punching a time clock at work or paying for my goods at Target. In prayer, we submit to a loving Father, not to a tyrant demanding that we pray certain ways to earn his favor or to a stranger to whom we're stating our prayers in exchange for specific results. We're talking with Our Father, in heaven who is holy and set apart from us, but who also calls us into relationship with him through His Son who (as we've seen in Scripture) showed us what a praying life looks like and instructed us how to pray.
3 P's for the Road
To some degree, we've only scratched the surface of what we can glean from Scripture about prayer. This series is not exhaustive, but I do pray it has been an encouragement. To help you have some mental hooks to hang on to when you think about prayer in the coming weeks, I want to leave you with three P-words:
- PERSON - When you pray, you're talking with a person, God. That's awesome, in the truest sense of the word.
- POSTURE - There are many ways you can physically arrange yourself to pray, but when I say posture I'm thinking about heart-posture. Let that posture be one of trust in the God to whom the prayer is addressed, believing He hears and anticipating how relating to Him will transform your life, others' lives, and the world in which we live.
- PRAY! - To borrow from Nike: Just Do It! We all have room for growth in our prayer lives, but no matter how awkward, hard-hearted, or inexperienced we feel, we need to pray. God does the work, we show up. It's not like going to class, it's a relationship!
Resources to Spur You On
What would a seminar be without some suggested resources?
- The Bible - Nothing is better fodder for prayer than getting to know the Word of God! The more we read, the more accurate picture we get of the real God, chasing away fantasies we have about what He might be like or lies the evil one would have us believe about Him. We also find examples of prayers in the Psalms and instruction in passages we looked at through this series.
- A Prayer Partner - Accountability to pray and knowing someone is praying with and for you is so uplifting. My friend, Carol, who lives in a different state suggested we do this a couple years back, and it's been such a blessing to exchange prayer emails and mourn and rejoice together, though apart. You could also find a local friend and meet regularly to pray together.
Some other books & a pamphlet:
- A Praying Life: Connecting with God in a Distracting World by Paul Miller
- Too Busy Not to Pray by Bill Hybles
- Fresh Wind, Fresh Fire: What happens when God's Spirit Invades the Hearts of His People by Jim Cymbala
- Think of Our Lord Speaking to You by Good News Publishing (special thanks to my friend Lydia for directing me to this)
If you have other great resources that have aided your prayer life, don't hesitate to leave a comment for me and fellow readers. Thanks for joining in on this mini-series!
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