Have you noticed how many books have been written over the years that teach us about prayer? There’s a good reason for that. For many of us (including myself), prayer is not something we’re particularly good at. Oh, sure, I know all about the importance of prayer, the power of prayer, even the purpose of prayer but I still really suck at praying.
I hear about how you should be persistent in prayer. Pray without ceasing, bring all your requests before God and He WILL answer them. I know all about that and I believe that to be true with all my heart but yet I can’t say I pray unceasingly.
I know that it is a vital discipline to draw close to God and seek His Will but I still find myself at wits end to pray the right words at the right time. I listen to others pray and I marvel at how easily the words seem to slip easily from their lips. The eloquent words of others praying leaves me breathless and I can’t help but feel even more inadequate at expressing myself to God in prayer especially in front of others. I’m a writer but a pray-er? Uh, uh.
I often ask others to pray for me and my needs because I’m so bad at it myself. I’m terrible at ad-libbing. I stumble, stutter and lose focus and can’t seem to remember all the people (by name) to pray for, or to express how magnificent and worthy of worship God is (like David does in Psalms). I get so tongue-tied, I feel like I’ve gone in a big circle of repeating myself and feel flustered and frustrated by my inability to express myself. I WANT to pray, but I just suck at it.
I had been lamenting my inability to pray cohesively when our Pastor gave a couple of messages about praying the Lord’s Prayer. “Everything”, he said, “that we need to pray about is encapsulated in that one prayer.”
As I have been praying these words regularly during my quiet time, I have drawn closer to the Father as never before:
“Our Father” (You are amazing. Your works are masterful. Your creation is beautiful.)
“in heaven,” (You are Lord of Heaven and Earth. I cannot fathom Your greatness. You love me with all my faults and died for me so that I may one day be with You in Heaven. I am so unworthy of Your grace but You abound in grace!)
“Hallowed be Your name.” (Your Name is above ALL names. I am so honoured and privileged to come to You in all humbleness, knowing that whatever I request in Your Name will be done according to Your perfect will.)
“Your kingdom come.” (I long to dwell with You throughout eternity! The Kingdom of Heaven is at hand! Hasten that day, but show me how to redeem the time here in the meantime, so I can be used of You while I am walking this journey road on earth.)
“Your will be done” (I sometimes have a long “wish list”, Lord. You know my needs before I even speak them. Give me patience and faith to know that You have heard me, You WILL answer, but only according to Your will and timing because You know what is best for me.)
“On earth as it is in heaven.” (Father, grow me up so that my life will show Christ living in me. Allow me to experience You in Your fullness here on earth as well as in heaven. Give me a passion for Your Word!)
“Give us this day our daily bread.” (You are the Bread of Life. You are all I need.)
“And forgive us our debts,” (Forgive the many things I do each day that may disappoint and not be honouring to You.)
“As we forgive our debtors.” (Allow me to show the same kind of love and forgiveness to others as You have shown to me.)
“And do not lead us into temptation,” (I fall into the trap of sin when I am not close to You as I should be. Draw me close, keep me focused on You!)
“But deliver us from the evil one.” (The enemy prowls around like a hungry lion waiting to devour me. I must be always on my guard against him. If I submit to You, Lord and resist the devil, he will flee!)
“For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever.” (You are the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. I need not fear because You are in control now and forever. Your rod and Your staff comforts me!)
“Amen.” (May the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart be acceptable to You, O’Lord, my strength and my redeemer. Psalm 19:14)
I pray every night for my family and most importantly thank the Lord for everything he’s given us. I also thank him for past answered prayers and try never to forget them in detail. Some of my prayers are unanswered now and it seems like they are taking so long while I watch someone suffer for years. I’m confident the Lord has a plan and trust in him. Still I pray with my own words. I say the Our Father usually once but mostly thank the Lord for his goodness and direction in my life. My attention span isn’t good either but before I fall asleep at the end of the day I make a point of praying. I also chant my favorite lines from a Christian song over and over and it puts me to sleep.