How to pray…

When you pray, do not babble repetitiously like the Gentiles, because they think that by their many words they will be heard. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him. -Matthew 6:7-8 (NET2)

I spent many years in a twelve step program that would end most of its meetings with the Lord’s Prayer. That was an easy one for me, because I had been saturated with it growing up in an Evangelical Lutheran church. We were taught to recite it at an early age, as well as to learn several other liturgical things in keeping with tradition at that time. In both the church and meetings reciting things became habitual, requiring little or no thought. Of course, they were of ill effect –because they did not come from the heart (and, in most cases, not the brain either).

I will not sit here and write that repetition is of no avail, because that is not true. I will, however, plainly state that it is pointless — if no thought or conviction goes into it. Even music, in a worship setting, should be a form of prayer to God.

Sometimes, Christians get very “religious” when praying to God and somehow transport themselves back in time to when old King James English was being read and spoken. Apparently, they think that God will pay more attention if prayers are framed with “thees and thous.” Of course, most of us are fully aware that such things are not necessary. We have many examples of prayers that we can model our own on, if we need a starting point. Perhaps the best place to start is in Matthew with the LORD’s Prayer. Jesus has given us the model of a perfect prayer with which we can begin our prayer life with God.

So pray this way: Our Father in heaven, may your name be honored, may your kingdom come, may your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us today our daily bread, and forgive us our debts, as we ourselves have forgiven our debtors. And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one. “For if you forgive others their sins, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others, your Father will not forgive you your sins. -Mt. 6:9-15 (NET2)

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