3 Prayer Principles to Help Your Prayer Life
As you continue to grow in your Quiet Time with God, one thing we need to focus on is how we communicate with God. Prayer can take many forms. For example, sometimes we talk to God with little phrases all throughout the day. It’s a sort of running conversation as we go through our day. Another type of prayer is formal recited prayer. I experienced this type of prayer on a three day spiritual retreat called The Walk To Emmaus. I have to admit, it was a type of prayer I wasn’t used to. At first, I didn’t get much out of it. But by the end of the retreat I began to appreciate the value and the beauty of this type of prayer. A third type of prayer occurs when we come before God in a more direct, personal and intimate manner. This is different than a brief conversation in the midst of my day’s activities. This is a focused, distraction free time when God and I can “do some business”.
Let me suggest that you begin by rereading pages 4-11 in your CLASS 201 book. Once you’ve done that, let’s look at three prayer principles Jesus taught in Matthew 6:5-8 (NIV):
“And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by men. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full. But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask Him.”
- PRAY SECRETLY
Jesus couldn’t stomach public prayers made for the purpose of impressing others. Instead, He instructed us to pray in private (“go into your room, close the door”). Why? I think there are a couple of reasons:
- Praying in private minimizes distractions.
Distractions are deadly to prayer. Voices, music, TV, ringing phones, kids, pets – you name it. Jesus knows how our minds operate. And He advises us not to bother fighting distractions (because, most often we will lose), but to avoid them. Find a quiet place where you can pray without distraction.
- Identifying a private place.
If you identify your place to pray and begin using it regularly, it takes on a
special spiritual significance. Your prayer place, even if it’s a laundry room, cubicle at work, or deck, becomes to you what the Garden of Gethsemane became to Jesus – a holy place, a place where you meet with God. Obviously, there isn’t anything holy about the place itself. It’s holy because of what happens there.
- PRAY SINCERELY
Jesus contrasted the mindless repetition of pagan prayers with sincere, heartfelt communication with God. God doesn’t need us to use language we’re not used to or religious jargon we really don’t understand. He doesn’t want us to use phrases without thinking about what they really mean. He wants us to simply talk to Him as we would to a loving Father – authentically, personally, straight from the heart. Psalm 62:8 (NLT) says, “Pour out your heart to Him, for God is our refuge.”
- PRAY SPECIFICALLY
Jesus followed-up His advice about praying secretly and sincerely with a model prayer that demonstrated how to pray specifically. Please go through the specific elements of Jesus’ model prayer on pages 6-8 in your CLASS 201 book. Remember, the Lord’s Prayer was given as a model. It is not a magical incantation for getting God’s attention. It wasn’t intended to be repeatedly recited (though there’s nothing inherently wrong with reciting it.) Jesus gave it to us as a pattern to show the various elements we should consider when we pray.
I hope this helps you get your Quiet Time off to a great start this week.