2015-06-08

The Right Way to Pray Effectively from the Lord's Prayer

The Lord's Prayer was Jesus' answer to His disciples request (Luke 11:1). Hence, it is the model for our prayer. It provides answers for the 5W1H of prayer. If we want to have effective prayer, we need to follow the model.
This post is a summary and reflection of our group study of the longer post An In-depth View of The Lord's Prayer - Learning from Tim Keller. To help us to understand something better, we can use the
The Basic Thinking Framework 5W1H. The order is Who-Why, What, How, Where and When. So let's follow the order to discover the treasures hidden in the Lord's Prayer.

Who-Why - From Relationship to Purpose - We do out of the Overwhelming Love within.

Prayer is between God and us. But Jesus told us more about this relationship. It is a Father and Child family relationship. It is not a business transactional contractual relationship. A business relationship is performance base such as you work to earn your salary from your boss; you pay to get the goods. When you pay, your goods cannot be denied. If you don't, you get nothing. In a family relationship, you don't do to get accepted. You get accepted first and you perform as a response to the love you received. You don't perform to earn your love. Sadly, in many family, the parents tend to use love as a mechanism to get obedience and performance from their children. They make a secured and wonderful relationship into an insecure one and creates fear, anxiety and stress. It degrades the purpose and identity of a member of family. Family members has privileges. It takes priority over business relationships. Your child can call you anytime and can interrupt your business meeting to talk to you.

On what basis can we be sure that our prayer will be heard and answered? Definitely not by performance because God is self-sufficient and need not anything from us. But as a Father, He has responsibility to care for our needs. As a child, we have responsibility to response to our Father love and teaching. While we do nothing to earn the love that we already have, the love compels us to do something to bring glory back to Him who loves us. We act out of the overwhelming love inside.

The purpose of prayer is then to be with our Father (Our Heavenly Father), worship Him (Hallowed be thy Name), and to know His will (His Kingdom and His Will be on earth).  The leads to the What of prayer.

What - To Worship and to Know His Will
Hallowing His Name is like the first 4 commandments of the Ten Commandments of God .... namely, Only ONE triune God, No other idols, No dishonour God's Name and Keep the Sabbath of rest and worship of God. Putting GOD as first priority from which and upon which we organised our parts of life like spouse, family, career, relationship with people, money, pride, will lead us to a balanced and fruitful life. Disruption of such a priority arrangement will leads to imbalance, stress, sickness and failure in different aspects of our life. To put our lives back in order, get rid of our idols and have God in the central and most important place.

How do we put God in the central place of our lives? Seek His Kingdom and His will and His righteousness (Mat 6:33) first. We worship first and then seek His will. If we don't worship and know His power and love for us, it is very difficult for us to want to know and much less to obey His will.

His will for us, the general and our specific calling, becomes the mission statements for us. His Kingdom's ways of righteousness become the methods and guides for our 'how' to achieve His will.

How to Pray 
We are NOT to pray for others to see how pious we are; i.e. not to seek our glory in prayer.
We are NOT to blindly repeat in many words as if God is hard of hearing or we can earn our answers by our effort.
Yet, we are not to loose hope but to continue in expectant prayer if we fail to see the answers. Luke 11:8-9 knowing for sure that he who seek shall find and who ask shall be given.

The sequence of prayer is:

  1. Know you are praying to your heavenly Father as a son.
  2. Worship & praise for who God is and His love for us.
  3. Intercession for His Kingdom and Will to be done on earth and for us in particular.
  4. Petitions for our needs to fulfil His will for us. We ask for the following 4 things.
    1. Daily Resources - needs for foods, shelter, health, wealth to do His will.
    2. Relationships with People - Forgiveness of our mistakes, and failures and harmonious relationships with others through forgiving one another starting with us and drawing upon the Father's love and grace empowerment for us.
    3. Overcoming Temptations and trials and Separating ourselves from evil.
    4. Protection from Evils and overcoming the evils.
  5. Praise and Thank givings for the answers. God is in charge forever and forever.
Most of our prayer begins with our needs first. But that is wrong. We must know His will for us first that we may know what are really needful and what are not. Of course, we know generally that His Will is for us to be well and Jesus assured us with His words that the Father knows even before we ask. Even so, we need to ask to show our desire and agreement to His will for us. 

Where should we pray?
In secret place where we are not seen and not disturbed. Yes, we can pray as a group. The admonition in Matthew 6 not in public places, is for us not to use prayer to gain self-glory. As long as we come together as a group to pray purposely for His will, it is OK. 

When should we pray?
The request for resources, bread, is daily. We are encouraged by Paul to pray without ceasing as in
1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 (NKJV) 16 Rejoice always, 17 pray without ceasing, 18 in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. 
So, we can pray any time, any where, and every time. At least, do it daily.

Conclusion:
The purpose of our prayer is to communicate with God, to know His will and to be empowered to do His will for His glory reveal through our work in Him. Our needs should be evaluated according to His will for us. A large part of our prayer life should be in organising our lives around Him and His will for us. Since His will is in His Word, a careful studying of His Words, the meditation of His Words, is actually prayer too. When we know Him and His will, our intercessions and petitions will be right and we have the confidence that they will be answered affirmatively.

Remember, the right way to pray is
 Father relationship -> Worship & Praise -> Intercessions -> Petitions -> Affirmation with Praise & Thanks giving.

Lim Liat (c) 8 June 2015

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