Prayer is one of the cornerstones of Christianity, yet it is also one of its great mysteries. The fact that we each have, as individuals, personal access to God, the creator of the universe and every living thing in it, is as astonishing as it is miraculous. But the power of prayer is undeniable, as anyone who has had a prayer answered will tell you. But to many, especially those new to faith or as yet still exploring the call of God to faith, it can be a daunting prospect.
I can vividly remember when I first came to faith the prospect of addressing God filled me with awe and struck me dumb. It was the hardest thing I had to come to terms with as I embarked on my journey into faith. The answer to my concerns, like so many things, I found in Jesus teaching, and specifically in Mathew chapter 6 verses: 5-15. This is the part of the ‘Sermon on the Mount’ where Jesus addresses prayer, and he says:
Again when you pray do not be like the hypocrites; they love to say their prayers standing up in the synagogue and at street corners for everyone to see them. Truly I tell you: they have had their reward already. But when you pray, go into a room by yourself, shut the door, and pray to your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you.
In your prayers do not go babbling on like the heathen, who imagine that the more they say the more likely they are to be heard. Do not imitate them, for your Father knows what your needs are before you ask him.
This is how you should pray:
Our Father who in heaven.
Hallowed be your name.
Your kingdom come.
Your will be done
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our trespasses,
as we forgive those that trespass against us.
And lead us not into temptation,
But deliver us from evil.
For thine is the kingdom,
the power and the glory, for ever and ever. Amen.
There are many translations of the Lord’s Prayer but this is my favourite. At some point in time we will look at the prayer in more detail on this blog. But for now this prayer and the passage that precedes it are to me ‘The Dummies’ guide to prayer and praying, everything you need to know to get you started in a life of prayer. In his own words Jesus, fully aware of the problem I faced, told me how to pray, where to pray and what to pray, he could not have made it simpler for me. And the clincher, that released me from my inhibitions was where Jesus tells us that even before we open our mouths that; ‘your Father knows what your needs are before you ask him’. So just relax open your heart and mind to God and repeat the words that Jesus teaches us to say and leave the rest to God. The answer you get may not be what you expect, it maybe yes; it may be no; it may be not yet or it may be no because I have something better in mind for you! But your prayer will be answered in God’s own time.
Later we will explore ways of how to develop a prayerful relationship with God.
In the meantime you may find some of the prayers listed below helpful, just click on the heading to read the full prayer:
- Prayer of submission to Our Lord Jesus Christ
- Prayers for children
- Prayer of Saint Columba
- Prayer for young people
- I cannot do this alone!
- Forgive me!
- Prayer for those suffering from depression
- Prayer for those in despair
- Prayer for the broken hearted
- Prayer of encouragement in times of trouble
- Lord Jesus help me to love!
- Closer to you Lord Jesus
- Prayer for a study group
- The Methodist Covenant Prayer
- A Poem About Prayer
You may wish to read a sermon preached on ‘Prayer’ in August 2010 as a further guide to understanding the basics of prayer.