Monday, March 06, 2006

The Way to Pray

I'm guessing you've heard of parents who washed their kids' mouths out with soap. Still in the military the enlisted approach officers with saluting respect. Children ought to talk to their mom and dad a certain way. But more than anything, we ought to talk to God like He has told us. Personally, I have often felt in need of guidance in going to God in prayer. What could we say to Him that He would want to hear, that would even respect and love Him enough? Not one of us need to guess on this. The Lord told us exactly how we are to pray in answer to a point blank request from His disciples in Luke 11: "Lord, teach us to pray, as John also taught his disciples" (Lk. 11:1). If you care about talking to God, and you should, then you also are interested in how God wants us to pray to Him. As clear as the teaching of the Lord Jesus Christ is, I still hear very few people who follow His model. Who could know more about what the Father wants to hear, than His Son. Who could be better on this subject? Obviously, no one. Let's think about this text together.

In v. 1, He starts: "When ye pray." Prayer technically is asking. His model is one of asking. When He says, "When ye pray," that means, "When ye ask." We don't go to God demanding, but requesting. For that reason, when I pray, I begin everything with a request. This is a way that we respect God and His sovereignty. Some might think this is a little picky, but shouldn't we be about prayer? We require a certain manner of speaking to communicate respect. As we go to God, going with requests gives Him that respect. So even when I begin praise, I ask God to be praised. We leave it up to God whether to accept our prayers. He has promised He would, but that doesn't mean we should try to tell Him what to do. Here's an example of the verbiage: "Dear Father, I ask that You would be praised, glorified, lifted up to Your rightful place of power and might and wisdom and honor."

Do you ever hear people start their prayers like this: "Dear Jesus" or even "Dear Lord"? Jesus tells His disciples, "When ye pray, say, Our Father." The Lord Jesus tells us to direct our prayers to the Father. The Scriptural model is not talking to the Son or the Holy Spirit. Several songs published in hymnbooks contain prayers directed to the Holy Spirit. That doesn't even please the Holy Spirit, let alone God the Father. All Scripture came from the Holy Spirit, so He told us to pray to the Father in Luke 11 as well. I couldn't guarantee you that God hears prayers of those who direct them at the wrong Person in the Godhead. Why not regulate your personal worship of the Lord through prayer by what He said, instead of by your feelings or opinions? Direct your prayers to the Father.


Titus Quinctius Cincinnatus said...

Excellent points, Bro. Brandenburg.

And I was beginning to wonder if you'd exited the blogosphere!

Jerry Bouey said...

Not trying to be argumentative, but what about examples in the Bible of people addressing Jesus in prayer? Or would you say that was only acceptable because they were dealing with Him in person?

For the most part I do address the Father in prayer, but sometimes the other two persons of the Godhead - like if I am praying for power in my preaching, something I know that the Holy Spirit specifically accomplishes. Though often I will pray along these lines instead, "Lord, please fill me with your Holy Spirit as I prepare this message and preach, and work in the hearts of those who are listening" (ie. referring indirectly to the Holy Spirit rather than directly).

This is an issue I have heard a myriad of opinions on, and your blog brought up some questions. I would rather pray the Bible way though, hence the questions. I have never really analyzed or made sure I was praying one specific way, so this does make me think a bit and wondering about my prayer habits. Thanks for your input.