So when you pray, you should pray like this: (NCV) Matthew 6:9a
In some ways, Harold Henderson could be considered a book worm. He can often be found at the local library or book store looking for a book he hadn't read yet. Yesterday while at the book store he found a book that he was sure would revitalize his life and maybe even the Pupperville Church and all for only $5.95 plus tax.
After spending most of last night pouring through the book, he decided that he needed to go to the church and find Randy. When he got to the church he found Randy in his study praying. Instead of being quiet and letting Randy finish his praying, Harold started shouting with excitement, “Randy, Randy, Randy, I've got it, I've got it, I've got it.”
“Excuse me!” Randy said as he looked up in disgust, “I'm praying.” “Perfect!” Harold squealed in delight, “what are you praying about?” “I was praying about my Sermon for Sunday,” Randy told him, “Or at least I was until you interrupted. I hope this is important.” “It is, It is.” Harold chirped back.
“Okay,” Randy said, “What is so important that you had to interrupt my pray time?” “It's this new book I got about pray.” Harold told him, “It's called “Prayers For Every Occasion. And it,s absolutely fantastic. It's got prayers for everything including one on preparing a sermon.” “Well, I suppose that could be handy.” Randy said, “How does it go?
“It's right here on page 52.” Harold said as he flipped to the page. “It goes like this - Dear Lord, I'm stuck here in my study, While my kids are getting muddy, I'd rather be out there, Than sitting in my chair, So help me with my sermon, So I can be with Herman.” “Isn't this great” Harold said after finishing the prayer “And there are hundreds more.”
As Harold carried on about all the different prayers he had found in his new book and how he thought everyone in the church should have a copy of the prayer book so they could recite the prayers, Randy decided to interrupt him and ask him if he had a prayer for when you're about to be eaten by lions or for when you're in the belly of a sea monster.
Without missing a beat, Harold promptly found a prayer for both situations. After reciting them Randy asked him if he thought Daniel or Jonah would have been satisfied with reciting those prayers. After thinking about it for a moment Harold said they would have like the prayer on page 76 better and than skipped off to tell someone else about his new find. As for Randy, he decided to stick with his own prayer.
There is a prayer found in Matthew 6 that has been mistakenly called the “Lord's Prayer” and recited as if its our prayer. The prayer in Matthew 6 is neither the Lord's prayer (why would He have to ask for forgiveness) nor is it our prayer to recite but rather a model to help us know how to pray and yes we are to pray for in 4 of the 5 verses preceding this prayer Jesus uses the words “when you pray,” not if you pray.”
Of course, not everyone is familiar with prayer. Two men were out walking one day. One guy challenged his buddy by saying, “If you’re so religious, let me hear you quote the Lord’s Prayer. I’ll bet you $10 you can’t do it.” The second guy responded, “Now I lay me down to sleep, I pray the Lord my soul to keep. And if I die before I wake, I pray the Lord my soul to take.” The first guy pulled out his wallet, fished out a $10 bill and muttered, “I didn’t think you could do it!” - How many of you can remember learning this prayer as a kid. How many of you, if challenged in such a way could recite the “Lord’s Prayer?” - Mt 6:9-13 puts it this way in the 'Our Father who is in heaven, Hallowed be Your name. 'Your kingdom come. Your will be done, On earth as it is in heaven. 'Give us this day our daily bread. 'And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. 'And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.' (NAS)
When you look at this model you might notice that it's not full of fancy words or ramblings. Fancy words and ramblings are for those who only want to look good, to look religious. Jesus warned against such praying just before he gave us this model.
We also find this prayer in Luke where Jesus' disciples are recorded as having asked Jesus to teach them how to pray. What they didn't ask was teach us a prayer to recite. There's a big difference between knowing how to pray and how to repeat someone else's words. Prayer is to be personal, it is to be one on one with God. Can you imagine one of these two characters from the Old Testament reciting some packaged prayer.
- While it wasn’t by his choice, Jonah got away to pray, one on one with God, in the stomach of a fish - Jonah 2:1-9
- While he had nothing to do with it, Daniel was about to be executed. Time for some one on one with God, - Daniel 2:20-23
The ship was sinking and the captain was passing out the life belts. Suddenly he called out to the passengers, and asked if anyone there knew how to pray. A preacher among the passengers eagerly announced that he did. "Thank goodness for you," said the captain. "We are short one life belt." - Time for fancy prayers? Time for reciting the “Lord’s Prayer?” What would you be doing on such an occasion?
James 5:16b says The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much. Maybe the reason a righteous man’s prayer accomplish much is because they're not someone else’s, they’re his from the heart. So, how about you? Are you ready to pray your own prayer?
Here's Something To Ponder
- Do you repeat some patterned prayer just to say you prayed?
- Are your prayers from the heart?