🙏 Teach us to Pray
In the last few weeks life has radically changed. Before the national pandemic and everything shutting down, life was a busy mess of running from work, church, school, kids’ soccer games, and many other things. For most of us, life is scheduled chaos as we run from one thing to the next. As a pastor, many people tell me their lives are so crazy it’s hard to slow down and make time to be quiet before God. To pray and reflect on what God is doing in their own heart. But then, almost overnight, everything shut down. Life stopped for most of us. No more running from one thing to the next. No more sports, school, or hurry. We were forced to stay home, forced to spend time with family, forced to slow down.
While this season is a real challenge and a horrible pandemic, I think God may want to use it in our lives, as He always does. Previously, most of us lived a hurried life. A life that robs us of the capacity to be fully present. Present with those around us and present with God. John Mark Comer in his recent book, The Ruthless Elimination of Hurry, quotes Dallas Willard, “Hurry is the greatest enemy of the spiritual life in our day. You must ruthlessly eliminate hurry from your life.” So, in this moment, I believe one of the things God is pressing in on us is to be present. My prayer is for God to use this time in our lives to grow us in being fully present with Him.
One way, a very important one, for us to be present with God is to pray. Prayer helps us feel God’s presence and acknowledge His control of all things, shaping our perspective.
Prayer helps us feel God’s presence and acknowledge His control of all things, shaping our perspective.
With that being said, I imagine some of you might be overwhelmed by the idea of slowing down and being present with God in prayer. What does that practically look like? How do I do that with my family or my spouse?
Let’s take this one step at a time. A number of years ago, I learned one way to approach prayer is to use The Lord’s Prayer found in the Sermon on The Mount (Matthew 6:9-13), where Jesus says:
Pray then like this: “Our Father 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 debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.”
The Lord’s Prayer can be broken into six sections, or topics, to help inform our prayer time. As Jesus says, pray like this.
First, we have an amazing Father, God Himself, who is glorious, amazing and worthy of being worshiped. Hallowed be His name! Take time to tell God how great He is and worship Him in prayer.
Second, pray for God’s kingdom to touch earth in this season as we pray for His kingdom to come and His will to be done in our family, communities, country and personal lives.
Third, spend time asking God for the needs you have or the needs of others you know. This may be the season in your life where this prayer has the greatest relevance. Use this time to pray over your needs and those of loved ones, friends, and neighbors. This is helpful because it’s a way for us to acknowledge all we have comes from the hand of God, which is certainly something we are being forced to learn in this season.
Fourth, take time to confess and repent of the sins in your life and ask for forgiveness. Also, exercise forgiveness toward the people in your life. Sit quietly before the Lord and let the Holy Spirit bring to light the things we so easily forget.
Fifth, pray for guidance, direction, and the Lord’s leadership. Jesus shows there’s a need for guidance and direction from the Lord when He says, lead us not into temptation. There hasn’t been a time in my life where I’ve felt the need for His leading and direction more than I do now. Take time to pray this over yourself, your government leaders, and your church.
Lastly, pray for deliverance. In a season of international pandemic there might not be a greater prayer. Pray not only for deliverance from the coronavirus, but also for deliverance from what Satan wants to do in this time to cause anxiety, depression, suicide, division, and all sorts of other trials. Please God, deliver us from the evil one.
If praying through every one of these elements feels overwhelming, start with one or two and build from there. Consider focusing on one each day or week, depending on your situation. Be creative in your prayers. Pray alone and in community. Pray over specific things with your spouse, family, or roommates. Go on a prayer walk. Focus on an area with your Group as you gather via phone or video chat. No matter the way you go before the Lord, go.
No matter the way you go before the Lord, go.
Take this time we’ve been given to slow down and be present before the Lord. Use it to be present while cultivating a heart of prayer. I look forward to the days ahead when we look back on this time and see how God used it in profound ways in our journey of faith.