Thursday, March 1, 2012

Prayer

When I was praying the other day, I noticed that my prayers were phrased as commands, in the grammatical imperative:

"Keep me safe."
"Help me find an apartment."
"Give me peace."

As I reflected on this way of praying, I found that it seemed kind of arrogant and mean. Who am I to command the Almighty to do anything? The notion is ludicrous. So then I started adding qualifying phrases to my prayers like:

"Keep me safe, please."
"Help me find an apartment, if you want to, if you have the time or interest, because I know you have a lot on your plate."
"Give me peace, so long as it's not at the expense of someone else's peace."

Frankly, these sorts of prayers sounded lame and silly to me. So, for a while, I literally didn't know how to pray, or what to pray for, which is a strange place to be in of you are the sort of person who prays, which I am.

And then I remembered that part in the Bible where the disciples ask Jesus how to pray, and he tells them the "Lord's Prayer" which is this:

Our father, who art in heaven,
Hallowed be thy name.
Thy kingdom come,
Thy will be done,
On earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread,
And forgive us our trespasses,
as we forgive those who trespass against us.
And lead us not into temptation,
But deliver us from evil.
For thine is the kingdom,
and the power, and the glory,
forever. Amen.

I thought about that prayer for a while and noticed that the only material thing I am to ask for is "daily bread" i.e. sustenance. This totally makes sense with Jesus' way of approaching life, which was day-by-day, living simply and humbly.

When I realized this, I felt the peace I was seeking. I don't need to ask for an apartment or financial security or any of the typical American concerns. All I need to ask for is bread enough for today. And that is enough.

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3 comments:

  1. Fantastic and something I need to remember as well.

    In our children's ministry we teach them the five finger method for prayer

    1. Your thumb is nearest to you so begin your prayers by praying for those closest to you. They are the easiest to remember. To pray for our loved ones is, as C. S. Lewis once said, a sweet duty.

    2. The next finger is the pointing finger. Pray for those who teach, instruct and heal. This includes teachers, doctors, and our church leaders. They need support and wisdom in pointing others in the right direction. Keep them in your prayers.
    3. The next finger is the tallest finger. It reminds us of our leaders. Pray for the president, leaders in business and industry, and administrators. These people shape our nation and guide public opinion. They need God’s guidance.

    4. The fourth finger is our ring finger. Surprising to many is the fact that this is our weakest finger, as any piano teacher will testify. It should remind us to pray for those who are weak, in trouble, or in pain. They need your prayers day and night. You cannot pray too much for them.

    5. And lastly comes our little finger, the smallest finger of all, which is where we should place ourselves in relation to God and others. As the Bible says, The least shall be the greatest among you. Your pinkie should remind you to pray for yourself. By the time you have prayed for the other four groups, your own needs will be put into proper perspective and you will be able to pray for yourself more effectively.

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  2. This was a very nice thing to read today. Thank you :)

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