Awakening Hearts: Prayer
February 4th: Martin Luther on Prayer
Martin Luther saw prayer as crucial to human life, a life created by the relationship to God. In this relationship God starts a conversation, communicating God’s words of law and promise. Prayer is a part of the human response to God’s speaking, a response itself shaped by the words of command and promise.
Begin your prayer time adoring God. This is different from thanksgiving. Praise God for who he is. Remind your heart of who he is. It may be helpful to write down the attributes and promises of God found in Scripture as you praise him.
Examples of Adoration in Scripture: Psalm 100:5; 34:1-9; 1 Chronicles 29:11-12
Admit and confess your sin to God so your prayers will not be hindered. Avoid being general about sin. As you confess over time, your confession will get more and more specific. This may lead you to confess your sin to a brother or sister in Christ as instructed in Scripture.
Examples of Confession in Scripture: Psalm 32:3-5; 1 John 1:8-9; James 5:16; Psalm 51
We always have reason to be thankful, even with the hard things present in our lives. As we pray, God will use our gratefulness to change our perspective. Spend time thanking God for what he has done for you in Christ and all the ways he has provided for you.
Examples of Thanksgiving in Scripture: 1 Thessalonians 5:18; Psalm 103:1-6; 9:1-2
Finally, let your requests be made known to God. Let God’s Word guide you in this. Authentically pour out your heart before the Lord and ask him for whatever is pressing in your life or the lives of others.
Examples of Supplication in Scripture: Philippians 4:8; John 14:13-14; 15:7; Psalm 84:11; Matthew 7:7-12
A similar, structured way to pray in which the individual uses the words of the Lord’s Prayer in Matthew’s Gospel 6:10-13 is with the acronym, PRAY:
PRAISE God for who He is and for what He has done with the phrase, “Our Father who is in heaven, holy is your name…”
REPENT of sins I have committed, of commands I have neglected with the phrase, “forgive us our sins and help us to forgive others.”
ASK for the needs of others and my own needs with the phrase, “give us this day our daily bread and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil…”
YIELD my will to God’s will, my agenda to God’s agenda for me with the phrase, “Your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.”
Sometimes, praying the Lord’s Prayer with the phrases in reverse order helps my mind to focus on the words and allows me to concentrate on how Jesus taught His disciples to pray.
Prayer is our half of the ongoing conversation with God. He speaks to us in his Word. We respond in prayer. I also like the line, “God always gives us what we would have prayed for if we only knew what he knows.” – Pastor Arp
Prayer is our never-ending conversation with our Father. The conversation stays alive as we breathe in his word, and breath out our petitions to him. -Pastor Sam
Breath prayers are a modern adaptation of the ancient prayer of the heart. We create them to express our deepest needs. They help us keep God in the foreground amidst our daily living and clarify our relationship with the holy. Most breath prayers are six to eight syllables and fit easily into one inhale and exhale. Some examples are “Help me rest; give me peace,” “Make clear my way, O Holy One,” “Out of darkness, into light,” or “Fill me, Spirit, with your love.”
- Sit comfortably, close your eyes, and remember that God loves you and you are in God’s presence.
- Imagine God calling you by name, asking “(Your name), what do you want?”
- Answer God honestly with whatever word or phrase comes from deep within you.
- Choose your favorite or most natural name for God.
- Combine your name for God with your word or phrase to form a brief prayer that flows smoothly.
In A Simple Way to Pray, Luther recommended that prayer be the first business of the morning and the last at night. Guard yourself carefully against those false, deluding ideas which tell you, “Wait a little while. I will pray in an hour; first I must attend to this or that.” Such thoughts get you away from prayer into other affairs which so hold your attention and involve you that nothing comes of prayer for that day.