The Heartbeat of Life with God: Prayer – August 10, 2023
When you think about prayer, what comes to mind? Maybe it’s our beautiful liturgy. Maybe it’s a favorite spot in your house where you pray. Maybe it’s an experience you had with God. Maybe it brings negative thoughts of conviction or guilt because you think, “I should pray more.”
Oftentimes we pray selectively. The average person’s prayer life goes up exponentially when there is an major life issue, problem, or choice. There is nothing wrong with this, but why don’t we have the same fervor for prayer when things are going along fine in our lives?
I’ve always felt I want to go deeper in my prayer life. This isn’t driven out of a desire to be more religious, but of desire to know God better and to be changed by the Holy Spirit from the inside out. One way I challenge myself to go deeper in prayer is being around people I know, or reading about people I don’t know, who have or had a vivacious prayer life.
Christiane, my wife, is one of those who challenges me with her prayer life. There are other ancient and not-so-ancient mothers and fathers of the faith that challenge me. Christiane and I are going to be writing together the next couple weeks of emails about prayer, giving examples from church leaders both current and long past, who teach us to pray.
Our hope is that by reading these you will be encouraged in your own prayer life, not out of guilt, but out of joy for the opportunity to grow in intimacy with the God of the Universe, who loves you and wants to commune with you.
To follow in Jesus footsteps, we want to start talking about prayer the way he did when the disciples asked him to teach them how to pray. We can find a number of different types of prayer within the Lord’s prayer.
Below we can see a diagram Christiane adapted from the prayer course, a website dedicated to teaching people how to pray. Pete Greig, one of the leaders in this movement, is a Anglican Priest from England, very familiar with unanswered prayer (as his wife has battled health issues for years) and very persistent in growing in intimacy with God. He and his team also run an app called Lectio 365, if you want to download a free prayer resource on your phone.
When we look at this diagram, I can’t help but notice how we start and finish approaching God in prayer with praise and thanksgiving! It is such a wonderful model for all of our prayers.
The first part of the Lord’s prayer (left side of the chart) follows thanksgiving with a desire to align our hearts with God’s will. We long for His Kingdom to break through circumstances, we surrender, and we contemplate seeing what God has already determined in heaven take place on earth.
The second part of the Lord’s prayer (right column) gets more personal. It is a picture of what’s like to be loved by God. We come to Him asking for specific things (petition), having already surrendered our will. We move into repentance in any way our may not yet be aligned with His. And, we continue in His love as we ask for protection from the enemy.
This prayer puts our faith in action every step of the way. It also centers our hearts in praise and thanksgiving, regardless of circumstances. It teaches us practice gratitude, not just for what He has done, but for who He is (yesterday, today and forever!) and who He calls us to be.
Our challenge as we pray this prayer as often as we do in our liturgy in worship, or in our personal life is to pray it slowly so we can think through these categories. We can pray it often so our mind is conformed to these thoughts throughout the day and the Holy Spirit can bring to our mind specific things for which to pray. Let’s also remember this model as we pray our own personal prayers.
Keep your eyes open for more opportunities to grow in prayer. We will soon be talking about a prayer training, and other ways we can pray for our community.
One opportunity coming very soon is Open Personal Prayer before and after the 12:10pm Thursday Eucharist service. This will start Thursday, August 24, 11-1pm in the Narthex. Come and pray. Come and be prayed for.
I look forward to this spiritual journey as we continue to grow in being a house of prayer together.
Blessings and peace,