Now, Jesus was praying in a certain place, and when he finished, one of his disciples said to him, "Lord, teach us to pray..."
Perhaps you have never prayed before except in anguish or terror. It may be that the only time the Divine Name has been on your lips has been in angry expletives. Never mind. I am here to tell you that the Father's heart is open wide. You are welcome to come in.
Perhaps you do not believe in prayer. You may have tried to pray and were profoundly disappointed... and disillusioned. You seem to have little faith or none. It does not matter. The Father's heart is open wide. You are welcome to come in.
Perhaps you are brusied and broken by the pressures of life. Others have wronged you and you feel scarred for life. You have old painful memories that have never been healed. You avoid prayer because you feel too unworthy, too defiled. Do not despair. The Father's heart is open wide. You are welcome to come in.
Perhaps you have prayed for many years but the words have grown brittle, cold. Little ever happens anymore. God seems remote and inaccessible. Listen to me. The Father's heart is open wide. You are welcome to come in.
Perhaps prayer is the delight of your life. You have lived in the divine milieu for a long time and can attest to its goodness, but you long for more... more power, more love, more of God in your life. Believe me, the Father's heart is open wide. You, too, are welcome to come higher up and deeper in,
Consider this prayer from Richard Foster: Dear God, I am so grateful for your invitation to enter your heart of love. As best I can, I come in. Thank you for receiving me. Amen.
When Jesus disciples asked him to teach them to pray, he modeled the Lord's Prayer.
I usually pray the Lord's Prayer before I go to sleep at night. One of the problems with the Lord's Prayer is it is too familiar. We don't pay attention and before you know it, it's done. Your heart wasn't in it. You just repeated a bunch of words.
So, to help myself with this problem, I went for a ride on a cruise ship, The Norwegian Pearl. On this ship they had a them called "Free Stylin'". When you went for dinner you could eat at different restaurants. You didn't have to sit at the same table or eat with the same people. You could "Free Style".
And that is what I do with the Lord's Prayer from time to time. I free style. I improvise. I play jazz to keep it fresh.
Now, I'm going to tell you something scandalous, sometimes I pray the new version of the Lord's prayer, "Our Father in heaven, holy is your name..." Then I might pause and tell God that his name is great throughout the world or sorry about not keeping your name holy when I sliced my golf ball into the water hazard... my point, you can keep your prayer life fresh by changing it up, by improvising.
Now, I am going to give you my model for prayer. This is what I do in my prayer life, not that you have to follow it but its part of learning about prayer. I hope you have your own model or are "Free Stylin'" in your prayer life.
You may have heard of ACTS:
A - Adoration
C - Confession
T - Thanksgiving
S - Supplication (praying for others)
It is simple. It is concise. It is easy to remember.
My acronym is CTPFPSNC !
C - Confession & Forgiveness
T - Thanks
P - Protection
F - Family and Friends
P - Prince of Peace and Past Congregatons
S - Suffering Ones
N - Nations
C - Church
It is a terrible acronym. Mostly I think of my prayer life as a path I follow.
I like to pray my longest prayer of the day in the morning. I don't have one particular place to pray. I pray when I walk the dog, when I'm driving, when I'm at church... You may want to find a particular space and time. I have one major time and then continue throughout the day.
I usually start off my Thanksgiving with a thank you for your love, patience and mercy with me. Thanks for life, health, faith, peace, salvation... I like to keep the list going throughout the day and pray for God to provide for the whole world and that I might have a thankful spirit.
Pray for protection. If you are a worrier, add this to your prayers. Waht are you afraid could happen to you or your loved ones? Add it to your list. Then ask for protection and ask for help that you don't live in fear. Ask God to be a shield, rock and fortress around you and your's. Thanks for your time together and for past protection.
Family and Friends. I name names before God. Got worries about those close to you? Bring it to God. Thank him for hearing your prayer. Remember with thanks the good things about family and friends.
I also pray for Prince of Peace and former congregations that I've served. I pray for people, pastors, ministries and activities. When people ask me to pray for them, I put it on my phone or into my computer. I pray.
The world has many suffering ones. I pray for them, for their help, hope and healing. I pray for people in hospitals, hospice, nursing homes, mental institutions.
I pray for the nations - peace, justice, economic order, care of creation, good government, good medical, judicial, law enforcement people. I pray for the spread and reception of the Gospel. I pray for troubled places. I pray for military personnel. I try to pray for the nations, for the U.S.
Finally, I pray for the church, for its unity, mission, health, renewal and love. It's very tenuous when people get together. I pray for God's Spirit of love, that we would leave behind our opinions and judgments and focus on God working in us and through us. I pray for church bodies, ministries, leaders. I pray daily for our church council, worship team, preschool, Sunday School, VBS, committees and for new members...for our future.
My prayer list constantly changes. I Free Style. I don't expect you to pray like I do. If you're done in a minute, that's fine. Pray like you and pray for God to help you grow in tour prayer life.
And here's another thing. Just be still and listen to God. That's hard. It's a busy world. We have a million thoughts but try it for 10 seconds and tell God you are listening for him. Keep trying to stretch.