Is There a Way I am Supposed to Pray?
It’s funny. When asked one of the number one things many people say is the most uncomfortable time during Thanksgiving is the prayer. Prayers should not make us uncomfortable! We are actually told in the bible not to worry about everything and to pray, yet the prayer is what has got us worried?!?!
That is backward if I have ever heard anything.
But when there is a specific way to our prayer that fits more in line with tradition than authenticity- well let’s just say it makes those who left that tradition/ religion/ church have moments of ugh, rather than peace with the Lord.
All we are doing is saying Thanks for this meal and thanks for this family. How fancy does it need to be?
I don’t think I would really care or know the difference if I hadn’t had prayer experiences with some utterly amazing women where it was genuinely a completely different level of prayer. For me, they changed what it means to pray.
As an ex-Mormon, we didn’t pray like that. I was never in a room with 10+ other women who were literally praying to God like He was in the room with us. My beautiful friends prayed for each other, for others, with thanks and repentance with all their hearts. When they pray God IS in the room with us. It blows my sox off. The first time they all started praying, I was more uncomfortable than ever for the first minute, but the peace of Jesus is unlike anything else and when they lay it all down He is there!
Which makes going back to a prayer with others who are still part of the church seem a bit different. It means something different.
But is there a way we are supposed to pray?
This is what Jesus had to say…
I don’t have prayer all figured out. I am no one to judge, but when I do pray I try to speak to God, as genuinely as possible. I listened to a great sermon a while back on the Lord’s Prayer. Here are the notes I took on this. I loved it and the Lord’s prayer (which always reminded me of going to Catholic church with my grandma) now is hung in my prayer closet to remind me of the importance of prayer and what Jesus asked of us.
Let’s jump in…
Talking to Jesus- Prayer
At the beginning of this passage, Jesus straight-up tells us not to be a bunch of hypocrites. I admit, the more I read the bible the more I am shocked and have to laugh about how plain its text is. Don’t be a hypocrite. What is being said here is prayer is and our prayer life is having unselfish actions and no selfish expectations. Our reward for our prayer is getting to have the amazing creator of the universe listen to us. He is our reward. No matter what happens from there, whatever He does with our prayer is His will and His peace for us.
Our public prayer life should be an overflow of our private prayer life. The intent is to speak with God, not to have a better prayer than others. It’s not to use the perfect terminology, the specific words you have been told to say, or to receive praise from others for having the best format. Prayer is about giving it to God and His will, not about our posterity.
What should we do? What should our prayers include?
Should we resight this prayer exactly how Jesus does? I’m going to say no. Not because the prayer is not beautiful, complete, and perfect, but because that is not what Jesus is intending. I am not a theologian or pastor myself, but all holy men I have heard speak on this agree. What Jesus is giving us here is a framework on how to pray. In fact, He specifically says not to use ‘empty phrases’. He wants it to be authentic.
1) Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.
First, we need to give our God the glory. This is the creator of the universe we are talking to. We are giving it to Him, but it is His will. Our surrender to His glory is first.
2) Give us this day our daily bread,
Ask for our Needs. Who can we turn to, but to the Lord? He wants us to lay down our needs. He wants us to recognize we can’t do it alone. Do not be afraid to ask Him. We can’t and we are not expected to do this all on our own. That is the basis for all who believe in our Lord- we have to lay it all down at the foot of the cross and ask Him, the creator of the universe and the sovereign ruler of this world to take our problems because we will never be strong enough on our own. He asks us not to worry, but to give it all to Him.
3) and forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.
Ask for Forgiveness. We are sinners. We will never be perfect, no matter how hard we try. We are only perfect through Him.
4) And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.
Ask for Guidance. We cannot lean on our own understanding. We must lean on Him and He will make our paths straight.
5) For yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen
Again, Give Him the Glory. Finish your prayer with His praise.