Let’s start to answer that question by listening to the Master!
Jesus said, “This, then, is how you should pray: ‘Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.’” [Matthew 6.9-10]
Prayer can be, for many, an uncertain experience; perhaps one mainly understood through set prayers, written for us to recite. There are of course many wonderful, classic prayers written by saints who have gone before us, including those recorded for us in the Scriptures, all of which can help us to pray effectively. Whilst we have perhaps made the prayer Jesus gave such a one, that is surely not the full extent of what he was introducing to his disciples, and to we modern day followers.
When Jesus says, “Pray, Our Father” he is not introducing us solely to a religious experience, but to a close, deep, loving relationship with the God he knew as his father and was to become our Father. And this is at the heart of all our prayer expressions. You will see other blogs on Prayer For St Helens explaining all sorts of approaches to prayer, some may be familiar others, perhaps, less so. I encourage you to read them and to try new approaches for your own prayer times, they will deepen your appreciation of prayer and draw you closer to your Father in heaven.
I love to read and to pray the Psalms. There you will find almost every expression of the heart known to humanity.
- Cries of lament and pain
- Shouts of praise
- Wrestlings of an anxious heart
- Tears from a broken heart
- Whispers of worship
- Ragings of anger
- Calls for retribution and revenge
- Songs of adoration
- Outpourings of repentance
- Pleas for mercy and grace
And so much more!
I will often take their words, re-expressing them in line with my own joys, hopes, fears and struggles. They help me to keep looking to my Father in heaven, whatever is going on in my life for good or ill. This deepens my relationship with him as I recognise him coming to help and support, to forgive or to heal, to encourage and to strengthen me. These are some of my conversations with my Father.
There is so much more to say about prayer, (so do look at some of our other blog pieces) but I believe prayer is fundamentally an outworking of our relationship with God, and an experience that will deepen that relationship. Whatever else we make of prayer, however we express ourselves, whatever approach is most helpful, make as much time as you can for prayer and see your relationship with your loving Father become deeper and richer. And see those situations and circumstances for which you pray be changed by his grace and power.