2 Corinthians 11:1-11; Psalm 111:1-4, 7-8;Matthew 6:7-15
This is how you are to pray. (Matthew 6:9)
Have you ever seen a toddler playing with a shape sorter? It’s a common toy with blocks shaped like triangles, squares, or circles and corresponding holes for the blocks to pass through. It is a very simple idea, and yet until the child has practiced and developed coordination, it can be difficult for him to align the shapes correctly to fit through the holes.
Sometimes prayer can feel like trying to fit the right block into the right hole. How am I supposed to pray? What should I pray for? What is successful prayer? Jesus, teaching his disciples about prayer, distilled it down to its essential elements: Keep it simple. Practice. Align yourself correctly. The Lord’s Prayer, so familiar, is not just a beautiful prayer; it models for us what prayer should be.
For example, more words don’t always translate to better prayer. In fact, the less we speak in prayer, the more time we have to listen to God. Sometimes our words—even though well-intentioned and devout—can drown out the words that God wants to speak to us.
It’s in quiet and simplicity that we will be able to line ourselves up with God’s will and his thoughts. We can worship him (“hallowed be thy name”) and submit ourselves to what he wants (“thy will be done”). Then we can trust him to provide for us as we pray each day (“give us this day our daily bread”) and realign ourselves with him and others (“forgive us … as we forgive”). As we give the consistent effort in prayer to shift our wants and needs and viewpoint, our Father will give us a deeper sense of what is on his heart and what is in his mind.
That’s the key to “successful” prayer! As we spend time with God, submit ourselves to him, and listen to him, he makes us more like him. Our worship gains more depth. Our intercession expresses a greater trust in him. Our repentance changes us. Like a child developing his skills, we find ourselves better able to fit the right block into the right hole—and growing closer to the Lord in the process!
“Lord Jesus, thank you for teaching me to pray without pretense. Help me follow your direction, and keep my prayer simple!”~WAU