Tuesday, December 14, 2010

"How" versus "What"


“This, then, is how you should pray ... "
Matthew 6:9



Prayer requires more of the heart than of the tongue. ~Adam Clarke

I have been driven many times to my knees by the overwhelming conviction that I had nowhere else to go. ~Abraham Lincoln



The scriptures have much to say on the subject of prayer. Even so, I often find myself at a loss to understand it.

We choose well when we look to the Lord's Prayer as a model, but I wonder if that particular prayer, and others like it of our own design, are not used much like a repetitious incantation - a spell-like manipulation - instead of the intimate dialogue between oneself and God that it's meant to be. I merely wonder.

A word search through the New Testament on the many references for pray and prayer, very quickly morphed into some "aha!" moments for me. I began to see some things about prayer in a different light.

I wish I could tell you this is what prayer is, or this is how prayer works, or this is how to get the most out of prayer. Many have; and there's a voluminous plethora of books on the subject that do (some VERY good). I cannot.

What I do know is that Jesus did not tell us so much about what to pray as He did about how to pray - both in word, and in demonstration. He gave us a model, yet we nowhere see Him using that model as a prescription to be prayed out again-and-again.

His prayers, and presumably our own, fit the occasion, the need. They are intimate dialogue - communion - with the Father; the privileged conversations wrought between the Sovereign of All and we who call Him Father.

I like both the how and what of that ...

God sent his Son, born of a woman,
born under the law, to redeem those
under the law, that we might receive
adoption to sonship.

Because you are his sons,
God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts,
the Spirit who calls out, “Abba (Daddy) Father.”

So you are no longer a slave, but God’s child;
and since you are his child, God has
made you also an heir.
Galatians 4:4-7

And when you pray, do not use vain repetitions
as the heathen do. For they think that they will
be heard for their many words.
Matthew 6:7

Prayer is not merely an occasional
impulse to which we respond when
we are in trouble:
prayer is a life attitude.
~Walter A. Mueller

12 comments:

Rebecca said...

intimate dialogue/privileged conversations... Sadly, many of my "prayers" do not fit this description. But I KNOW this IS the Father's desire.

Do you remember the old hymn "Sweet Hour of Prayer"? One verses says:

And since He bids me seek His face,
Believe His Word and trust His grace,
I’ll cast on Him my every care,
And wait for thee, sweet hour of prayer!

Janette@Janette's Sage said...

Prayer has been my theme this year as God moves me more in this area. As I prayed last night for someone with cancer I asked the Lord if my praying was more for me than them....meaning I learn so much by praying for others. I step out of "Me" thoughts, I learn compassion, I learn about God's sovereignty, I learn to lift others burdens...I am the one that is blessed. He changes my heart when I pray.

Thanks learned something from you...as always!

Sonja said...

As you know by now, this subject is very dear to my heart. If you don't mind sending me an email with your address, I would like to send you the book on dad's life called "Everything by Prayer". Prayer and revival were his 2 life long passions, and now there are schools of prayer around the world using his material. Oh I learned so much from watching their lives and hearing them pray.

Hugs!

Diana said...

I love Walter Mueller's quote!!!

Beth.. One Blessed Nana said...

I love this so much! Prayer is just the most amazing thing. I love the quote by Oswald Chambers that says, "Prayer doesn't equip us for greater works, prayer IS the great work!"

Just a little something from Judy said...

"Prayer is a life attitude"...what a perfect definition of a very special privilege. Ongoing conversation with my Heavenly Father is the greatest gift in my life. Great post!

Debbie said...

Prayer is a matter of the heart. Sometimes the best prayer I can utter is "Help me". There have been moments like that. But I love to spend time with the Lord. Sharing what's on my heart (even though He already knows) and then reading His Word. I also use my journal to write down what I learn or any inspiration He gives me. I also love His Promises and I remind Him of them often. :)

Blessings and love,
Debbie

Grace on the Narrow Path said...

Prayer releases power to witness miracles.
Your family is still in my prayers., I know your John will be missed.
Blessings,
Bren

"Just Me - NC Beth" said...

This was so good! I've always known that prayer works!! I speak from experience!! :o)

~Beth

~*~KIMBERLY~*~ said...

Yes, LORD! I love you Father God will all I am and with all I have. In Jesus' name, amen.

elaine @ peace for the journey said...

Prayer is the great privilege of my heart. I don't have a great formula along these lines. I just talk, and God listens. God talks, and then I pray for the good sense to listen.

Keep to it, Sassy Sister. You bless me with your willingness to explore the scriptures and lean into your learning.

peace~elaine

Susan J. Reinhardt said...

Hi Kathleen -

I think the term, "prayer," sometimes makes people freeze.
"Conversation with my Father," says it all for me.

Blessings,
Susan :)