One of the home runs my parents hit in my spiritual upbringing was teaching my younger brother and I to pray well.
No excuses, no cop-outs. Every night, we’d hit our knees by our bedside, whether we’d just gotten home after driving for three hours or not. We’d pray with conscious effort, perhaps using our own ideas, perhaps utilizing a list – a good strategy to rescue our precious prayer targets from the fog of forgetfulness and cement the entire thing in intentionality.
They also wouldn’t usually allow us to pray the Lord’s Prayer, no matter how often we asked to.
That might sound a little weird. But back then, we weren’t begging them to allow us the Lord’s Prayer because we understood the power, simplicity, and holiness of it. We were begging for it because we’d memorized it, and thus it was easier. Always looking for the path of least effort as kids. Satan uses this back-door strategy against even adults: rote memorization can be a counterfeit to true engagement with God.
Instead, Mom and Dad had us pray consciously, only occasionally reciting the Lord’s Prayer and calling it a night.
OUR Lord Jesus declared that “men ought always to pray and not to faint,” and the parable in which his words occur, was taught with the intention of saving men from faintheartedness and weakness in prayer. Our Lord was seeking to teach that laxity must be guarded against, and persistence fostered and encouraged. … Cold prayers have no claim on heaven, and no hearing in the courts above. Fire is the life of prayer, and heaven is reached by flaming importunity rising in an ascending scale. – E.M. Bounds
There’s a lot of mystery in prayer, but I’ve oft wondered how many points we Christians leave on the field through prayer that is glancing, distracted, half-formed. Satan always wants us distracted. I’ll tell you right now, if I want to find fascinating things to daydream about, or suddenly gain great clarity on a totally irrelevant matter, or remember all the errands I need to run tomorrow, all I need to do is start praying. The enemy will instantly step in and switch on his alliance with my corrupt mind, deluging me in myriads of minutiae to distract me.
I know we have the encouragement that the Spirit “also joins to help in our weakness, because we do not know what to pray for as we should, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with unspoken groaning” (Romans 8:26). But the laziness will still need dealing with. God has extended us a bridge; the need is great. Why do we dither about?
Today, if I pray the Lord’s Prayer, I do so because I understand it and have been trained in its meaning. May we all be lit on fire this week to pray as if we mean it.
I’m glad you tuned in today. If you found this post to be of value, please feel free to share it on social media. Thanks a bunch!