Tuesday, June 29, 2010

"Teach Us to Pray" - My Article in the Southside Messenger

Spirit & Truth # 184
“Teach Us to Pray”

By Rev. Greg Smith

Charles Spurgeon, known as the “Prince of Preachers,” knew that the most important thing in his meetings was not preaching—it was prayer. It was said that he once took a group of students on a tour of his building, showing them the “power room” of the church. Instead of a furnace, he showed them a room full of people praying, just before the service where Spurgeon was to preach. Without prayer, Spurgeon knew his preaching would be in vain. Jesus’ disciples also knew that. They could have asked Jesus to teach them anything—how to heal, how to cast out demons, how to preach. But in Luke 11:1 they asked Him, “Lord, teach us to pray.” Jesus had sent them out to do all those other things, but they knew that without prayer they could not accomplish any of it.

So Jesus gave them the Lord’s Prayer as a model for their prayers. Many of you know the Matthew 6:9-13 (King James Version) passage by heart:

Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name.
Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors.
And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil:
For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen.

I pray the Lord’s Prayer at some point at least once a day. It has become a part of my regular prayer life. While the Lord’s Prayer is a good prayer to pray, exactly as it is written in the Gospels, it is meant not only as a word-for-word prayer, but as something more. The Lord’s Prayer is a prayer guide that, if used properly, can keep your prayer time alive and interesting for prolonged times of prayer. Prayed verbatim, the Lord’s Prayer takes thirty seconds. But when it is used as a prayer guide, the Lord’s Prayer can last as long as your kneeling posture can endure.

To use the Lord’s Prayer as a prayer guide, just pray each line of the prayer and then expand the main thought of that line into your own words. Spend the first five minutes praising God. Then spend the next five minutes focusing on God’s kingdom in your life, and seeking God’s will. Pass the next five minutes asking the Lord to take care of your daily needs. Then focus on confession and forgiveness for the next five minutes. Tell the Lord the things that tempt you, and ask for help dealing with temptation and evil for the next five minutes. Then finish up with five minutes of praise—and voila! You’ve prayed for half and hour!

We’ll spend the next few weeks talking about just how to do this. I hope you’ll join me for the adventure that is the Lord’s Prayer. I pray that God will bless you through it.

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