25 July 2008

Tell 'em to pray, but don't show 'em how?

Last Tuesday I led a small group discussion with young adults. We explored different ways to pray as I had become aware that some in our group knew they should pray but had never really been shown how to pray. We can assume too much.

Why do we do that? We teach people to walk, to swim, to drive; why not to pray?

Artwork by Michael Leunig

The Psalms are a great way to see into the hearts of other people who knew what it was to be honest and open with God.

Look at this one as an example.
Psalm 139:23-24 Search me, oh God, and know my heart; try me, and know my anxieties; and see if there is any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.

Or try this time tested format for the components you might weave in to your time with God:
Praise/Adoration: God focus. “Leave me out of it!”
Confession: Bring me in at my rightful level, on my knees, not in guilt, but in gratitude!
Thanksgiving: List ‘em! Ferret them out and bring them in!
Supplication: Bring in others. Feel their pain and pray like I care.

•Lost. •Suffering. •Lonely. •Fearful. •Sick. •Wounded. •Conflicted. •Transitional.

What about looking closely at how Jesus taught His disciples to pray?

Cynthia Heald writes in Discipleship Journal:

Pray the Principles of the Lord's Prayer.
When one of Jesus' disciples said, "Lord, teach us how to pray," Jesus responded by providing His disciples with a model of prayer—known as the Lord's prayer—that contained six main elements. The first three relate to God: He is our Father, our King, and our Master. The last three concern us: our daily bread, our forgiveness, and our protection from temptation and evil. These elements can be prayed simply with few added thoughts, or amplified with scriptures, hymns, or songs. This pattern of prayer can take a few minutes or a few hours. The Lord's prayer helps me focus on the essentials. It helps me to remember that my prayers do not always have to be long to be good.
DJ Issue #106 July/August 1998

For more ideas and tips, check out Pray Magazine, also by Navpress.

And let's stop assuming people know things when they don't and they shouldn't necessarily. That's about as dumb as thinking non-believers should act like Jesus followers!
Why would they? Why would we want them to?

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