When Jesus spoke these words: “This then is how you should pray: Our Father…” he in some sense revolutionised the relationship people could have to the LORD (the Creator, YHWH, the God of the Bible). No longer would you need to go through the hoops before having someone pray on your behalf (a la the temple), and suddenly God was Father, a relationship which is caring, providing, nurturing, formative.
We need to remember this when we think of prayer. Just as cold, hard systems don’t work in your usual relationships – unless you’re talking about a functional relationship (like the person at the toll booth, where you greet, give money, take change, thank and drive) – cold, hard systems won’t work in your relationship to God. Just like any deepening relationship, it needs to be cultivated, grown, worked at and invested in for it to be what God intends for it. That being said though, just as we often need help to improve our earthly relationships, we can think through ways in which to enrich our prayer life, and get better at communicating with our Father.
Here are some tools which might help you:
- PrayerMate. An App which functions as a prayer diary. Every day you pray for a decided-upon number of things. These can include people, ministries or anything you decide to pray for – and you can choose pre-written prayers, or Bible verses to pray through. Pro’s: It’s structured, it’s clear, you don’t need to struggle for what to say, and you can make sure to pray about important things. Con’s: like any list, it can become rote and impersonal (but that’s a danger for most things – and something you’ll need to work at). The fact that it’s an App on your phone means you’ll need to be disciplined to ignore messages, alerts and all the other distractions that come with a Smartphone while you pray.
- Pray the Psalms. Every morning you choose a Psalm to read. As you read it, you think through something (one thing – or more if you can), that this Psalm is telling you about God. You then use that one thing to Praise God for, to Thank God for, and to Ask God to make more real for you. This is a great place to start developing your relationship to God.
- Pray the Bible. In conjunction with any daily reading, such as the Explore notes, or “Daily Bread” or whatever you use, do the same as you’ve done for #2 above. In addition to the prayer points in your reading, think through what the Bible passage tells you about God, and speak to Him about that.
- Four G’s and an F. In an Afrikaans speaking church in Pretoria, they speak of “Vyf G’s” (Five G’s) about God that can be used to pray about. Four of these translate into G-words in English, one doesn’t…but that will have to do. When you speak to God, thank Him or praise Him that he is: Great, Gracious,Good and Faithful. Ask Him to help you live for his Glory. Identify aspects of your life that highlighted any of these characteristics of His, and be specific with them. Open up!
- Pray the sermon. Start taking notes during the sermon on Sunday if you don’t already. As you listen, try to think through what God is telling you about Himself, or about what He has done, or what He likes / doesn’t like. Jot down some points under these headings, and use them to formulate your prayers for the following week. Pray about these things for you personally, for your Growth Group, for the Church family, and for anyone else you want to.
Why did Jesus die? To pay the price for our sins – yes? But why? So that nothing could stand in the way of a relationship between you and God, the one who made you. If Jesus died to ensure eternal life for those who believe in Him – then this is eternal life: “That they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.” He died so we may relate to God, speak to Him…know Him. Our prayer life reflects this relationship, and like any other one, it’s one that we can work at. May we all get to know our Father better.