Aloha Friday Message – March 8, 2013 – Modeling prayer

1310AFC030813 Modeling Prayer

Read it online here, please.

Hebrews 4:16Let us therefore approach the throne of grace with fullest confidence, that we may receive mercy for our failures and grace to help in the hour of need.

Today we are called upon to collect ideas from a variety of sources and share some insights into building a confident and effective prayer life. I got a little kick-start from a man we heard about in a recent MBN message, Dr. Peter Marshall. Here is a short passage from the same book, “Mr. Jones, Meet the Master.

I read the story of a woman who was trying to find God. She had a certain dream, which she dreamed more than once, namely, that she was standing in front of a thick, plate glass window.

As she looked at it, she seemed to see God on the other side.

She hammered on the window, trying to attract His attention, but without success.

She grew more and more desperate, and began to call him, and found herself shrieking at the top of her voice.

Then a quiet, calm voice at her side said, “Why are you making so much noise? There is nothing between us.” (Mr. Jones, Meet the Master, pp 143-44)

Elliot'sPrayerYes, it is true. Nothing can separate us from the Love of God, and that means – since God is Love, He places no obstacle between us and Him. And yet, we stumble through prayer sometimes as if it were a terrible ordeal, or breeze through prayer as if it were a recitation of some sort with no depth of meaning. Sometimes we feel that we need to learn how to pray so that when we pray we don’t just babble and we don’t recite platitudes and we don’t go away thinking, “Well, if that didn’t work, I don’t know what else will!” Really? Let’s take a look at the anatomy of a prayer. For instance, how do you start?

  • Dear God … Um, Hi God, it’s me. You know, “The Sinner in Apartment D-316?”
  • Jesus, I come to you today to ask for your help with my nut-case neighbor.
  • Almighty God, we come to you today to thank you for sparing us during this latest winter storm.”

So what kinds of “things” go into a prayer, and how can we learn to build a prayer that flows, that is both Biblical and relevant, and one which isn’t so convoluted we don’t even remember what we said? I’m going to suggest a simple outline and give some examples. Here’s the outline:

  1. Greeting
  2. Praise
  3. Thanks
  4. Petition
  5. Confession/Profession
  6. Closing

#1 – Greeting: Name the person to whom you address your prayer: God, Father, Jesus, Holy Spirit, Blessed Trinity, Lord, Master, Gracious and Loving or Almighty or Holy (plus any of the preceding), any opening like that is fine. I have said before my favorites are My El Shaddai and Abba.

#2 – Praise: Hallowed be thy name, you alone are Holy; you are our awesome God, Omnipotent and Omniscient Creator, Lover of my soul, source of all that is Good, Great, and Just Judge of all mankind, and so on. What is there in my heart and mind that just totally wows me when I think of Him? How can you combine that with the Greeting? They can work together. Here is one that was inspired by a popular contemporary Christian music group – the Hemphills – in the 80’s:

Father, we worship you as One in the Love of the Spirit and the Son.
Jesus, we honor you as Lord by all of Heaven and Earth adored.
Spirit, we love you as our Friend and giver of Love and Gifts without end.

#3 – Thanks: We thank you for all your gifts, thank you for hearing my prayer, thank you for all your blessings, thank you for subduing my enemies, thank you for this day / this life / this world / this family / this spouse / this (everything). To borrow a line from a Gospel chorus … “Thank you, Lord, for saving my soul / Thank you Lord for making me whole. / Thank you Lord for giving to me / Thy great Salvation so rich and free.” Yes. You can quote another’s prayer as part of your prayer especially if it’s a song!

#4 – Petition: This is the part we’re pretty good at. In fact, truth be told, this is almost always where most of us start. Even if we don’t usually pray the “gimme” prayer, we pretty much expect God to pop up like the genie in the bottle and grant our wishes. A care, a house, a victory over an enemy, something to suit our passions, You know what to ask, and the Bible tells you how to ask – with faith, believing that you will receive it, and in Jesus’ name. But we’re not quite to that closing part yet. Sometimes the best petition is to ask God for guidance, for the grace to see and do his will, or for direction about what he would have us do next. Another is to prepare your heart for his Presence.

#5 – Confession/Profession: “What? I’m not Catholic.” “What is there to confess?” “What do you mean, ‘confess’? And what could I profess that God doesn’t already know?” You know that part in the Lord’s Prayer “Forgive us our debts (trespasses) as we forgive our debtors (those who trespass against us)? That is a confession of our sinfulness. “Lead us not into temptation (Do not put us to the final test): That is a confession of our weaknesses. But deliver us from evil (from the evil one): That is a confession of our awareness that we are sinners redeemed by Grace through the loving protection of God. What does that sound like outside of the Lord’s Prayer? When you pray the Apostles or Nicene Creed, your profession of faith, you declare publicly what you believe. You can declare that privately in your personal prayer as well.

Master, I do not know how to pray so that my prayers are pleasing to you, but send me your Spirit to pray with me. I know my sinfulness. Grant me faith to overcome sin and to live in your presence at all times. Look into my heart, Holy Spirit, and remove all that is offensive to you. Cast me not out from your presence O God, but in your mercy save me from my sins. I confess my love for you, my Lord and my God. I place my trust in you. You are my hope and my Joy. In you alone do I find comfort and peace. In you, O LORD, I am made whole. Jesus, I trust in you. Jesus, I love you above all things and persons, and I desire to receive you into my heart and soul. Sprit of the Living God, I surrender my entire life to the Holy Trinity without reserve. O God, you are my God and I will always praise you.

#6 – Closing: Jesus told us to pray in His name, and that’s pretty easy: In Jesus name. Amen. In your most precious name, we pray. As the Lord taught us, we pray in His name, Amen. In faith believing, we place our trust in you, Jesus. As you have commanded through your Son, Jesus Christ, we pray in His name, AMEN. In the Power of the Blood of Jesus we humbly pray. Amen.

We don’t always have to be so formal, though. Here’s one that circulates around the Internet every so often:

=*+*=*+*=*+*=*+*=*+*=

Heavenly Father, Help us remember that the jerk who cut us off in traffic tonight is a single parent who worked nine hours that day and is rushing home to cook dinner, help with homework, do the laundry. And spend a few precious moments with her children.

Help us to remember that the pierced, tattooed, disinterested young man who can’t make change correctly is a worried 19-year-old college student, balancing his apprehension over final exams with his fear of not getting his student loans for next semester.

Remind us, Lord, that the scary looking bum, begging for money in the same spot every day (who really ought to get a job!) is a slave to addictions that we can only imagine in our worst nightmares.

Help us to remember that the old couple walking annoyingly slow through the store aisles and blocking  our shopping progress are savoring this moment, knowing that, based on the biopsy report she got back last week, this will be the last year that they go shopping together.

Heavenly Father, remind us each day that, of all the gifts you give us, the greatest gift is love. It is not enough to share that love with those we hold dear. Open our hearts not to just those who are close to us, but to all humanity. Let us be slow to judge and quick to forgive, show patience, empathy and love.

=*+*=*+*=*+*=*+*=*+*=

And once we learn to converse with God instead of simply giving him a To-Do list, then our prayer life becomes a source of constant joy. Therefore, Beloved, pray for one another that God will give all of us “the will to do small things with great love.” Remember, God – all three Persons – knows everything, is everywhere, and is all-powerful. Knowing these things, we also know God is always with us, around us, and in us, and we have no need to shout or doubt. We can be confident that He reads and hears our heart’s longings.

Whatever, whenever, wherever, whoever, however, if ever, forever — at your service, Beloved.

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About Chick Todd

American Roman Catholic reared as a "Baptiterian" in Denver Colorado.

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