Uncomplicating Your Prayer Life
“One day Jesus was praying in a certain place. When he finished, one of his disciples said to him, ‘Lord, teach us to pray, just as John taught his disciples.’” Luke 11:1 (NIV)
Recently, I was eager to resume a consistent Wednesday-night church routine. But my mood soon shifted while perusing my church’s upcoming schedule of weekly activities.
A new, 30-minute prayer meeting, followed by Bible study, had been added. Thirty minutes? I can barely pray for five minutes. Actually, without distraction, make that one minute.
For half an hour, I would be expected to close my eyes without falling asleep, focus my attention on God rather than my grocery list and engage in a one-sided, silent conversation with the Lord.
We’re told, “Prayer is just talking to God.” Well, if that’s all there is to it, then why do I, a natural talker, find it so difficult? For years, I believed my prayers weren't good enough for God's ears or to take up His time. They lack structure and are far from a spontaneous flow of eloquent phrases sprinkled with Bible verses. So, consoled by God's sovereignty in my circumstances — He’s in control; He’s got this — I eventually convinced myself it really didn’t matter if I prayed at all.
That is, until I came upon our key verse, Luke 11:1: “One day Jesus was praying in a certain place. When he finished, one of his disciples said to him, ‘Lord, teach us to pray, just as John taught his disciples.’” Jesus had just finished praying, apparently in the presence of His disciples. Eager to be like Jesus, they asked that He teach them to pray.
Notice two things about their request: First, they, too, desired to communicate with God through prayer, and second, they knew they needed guidance.
Although prayer may be as simple as just talking to God, it is also a learned skill; it takes time, work and practice. The disciples were with Jesus day in and day out. Of all the things they could have asked Him to teach them — how to heal, teach or perform extraordinary miracles — they asked how to pray.
To teach them, Jesus gave the disciples (and us!) the Lord’s Prayer. We find the Lord's Prayer twice in the New Testament, not only in Luke 11 but also in Matthew 6, nestled among the rich passages of the Sermon on the Mount. There, Jesus breaks down the essence of Christian living, including a very clear example of how to pray.
By comparing the Lord's Prayer in Matthew 6 to Luke 11, we see that the words are similar but not exactly the same. This slight difference indicates that our heart's posture toward the Lord is more important than our actual words. Here are some ideas on how to draw nearer to the Lord through prayer:
- Acknowledge God’s splendor and glory, and bow before Him in humble adoration, for He alone is worthy of worship and praise.
- Thank God for His generous provision, including the grace by which He has saved us and sustains us every day. All we have comes from Him.
- Confess and repent of sins we have committed against a holy and righteous God, believing He fully forgives and remembers our sins no more, thus enabling us to forgive others.
- Invoke God’s power to fight Satan and resist temptation, standing firm in the face of spiritual attack.
- Ask God to help us to be Christlike examples in all we say and do, extending grace, mercy and love to others throughout our day.
Prayer is personal, just like our relationship with the Almighty through faith in His Son, Jesus Christ. Prayer is also a privilege, allowing us 24/7 access to our heavenly Father, made possible only by the sacrifice of His Son on the cross for our sins. Remember, the Lord is much more concerned with the attitude of our hearts than the actual words from our lips. Life is complicated, but our prayer lives need not be.
Heavenly Father, thank You for giving us the gift of prayer. When we don't have the words, let us be filled with the Holy Spirit who prays on our behalf. Let us be a people who communicate with You regularly, taking all requests to You. In Jesus' Name, Amen.
TRUTH FOR TODAY:
Romans 8:26, “In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans.” (NIV)
Do you ever wonder, “What is the point of waiting?” When you find yourself stuck in between what your life is and what you want your life to be, it is hard to imagine God will bring any good from this. We've been there, friend, and that's why we created this free, five-day devotional. While We Wait: 5 Devotions to Find Purpose in the Midst of Waiting will help you discover purpose for the circumstances you didn’t ask for and the seasons you don’t want to be in. Click here to download now.
REFLECT AND RESPOND:
Daily distractions present one of the biggest hindrances to our prayer lives. What are some things that keep you from communicating with God?
Set a reminder on your phone to pray at a certain time every day, or place a sticky-note reminder somewhere you’ll see it regularly. And in the comments, share with us your thoughts about today’s devotion!
© 2021 by Laura Bailey. All rights reserved.