Stop Praying the Lord’s Prayer and Start Actually Praying

It’s kind of funny to me that pastors pray the Lord’s Prayer in church. The whole point of Jesus sharing this prayer was to not just say some memorized prayer, but instead pray like this. So we turned around and just memorized that prayer instead. Awesome.

Prayer is the coolest thing in the world. We get to talk to the Creator of the Universe and He actually listens to us and loves us. The concept is just incredible. Even though the example that Jesus gives us in the Lord’s Prayer starts out with, “Our Father who is in heaven, Hallowed is your name,” we can sometimes forget who it is that we are talking to. I just read an article that Audrey Hepburn’s son didn’t realize who his mom was until he was an adult. For you Millennials that don’t know Audrey Hepburn, it’s equivalent to one of Angelina Jolie or Brad Pitt’s kids not realizing who adopted them. We know who God is, but we can sometimes forget the “weight” of who He is. Because prayer is free and easily accessible, it can then seem “cheap.” Perhaps it’s because we don’t see the cost that others have had to endure to speak to their gods. When I visited the ruins in Corinth, Greece; I was near the ancient Temple of Dionysus. People used to gather out-front and wait for days and sometimes weeks to give a one-phrase request and a gift or offering to a priest who would deliver the message to some sort of prophetess tripping on whatever was the most popular hallucinogen of the day. People in the ancient world would wait days in the snow, or heat, or rain just for a chance for one of their gods to hear their request. They saw value in their “prayer.” Yet, sometimes Christians don’t see the same value in their prayers to Almighty God.

Here’s how praying to Jesus has the greatest value possible:

1) We can go directly to Jesus. He is our mediator, and we need no one else. Jesus is both human and Divine, thus he perfectly bridges the communicative gap. How could a human who knows absolutely nothing about the future, make requests about the future to a God who knows absolutely everything about what is to come? Because “Jesus,” that’s how.

2) There is no cost to the person who prays. The one we pray to did all the work. Jesus’ work on the cross allows our close communion even possible. The All-Knowing God could obviously hear everything that’s even on the thoughts of His creation, but His love for us causes Him to care.

3) God’s eternal and infinite nature allows him to focus ALL of His attention at EVERY moment of our lives. God can feel like some sort of distant entity that looks at us like ants in an anthill. There are billions and billions of people, why would God care for me any more than some other Joe Schmoe. Fortunately, God is not limited by time. I can only be in one place at a time, and deal with one issue at a time. God, on the other, hand can spend an eternity with us every second of our lives. Awesome.

4) The most powerful being in the universe is listening to us. Like really listening. Entrepreneurs go on Shark Tank for a chance to pitch their ideas to 4 rich jerks (investors.) They are hoping to just tap into a little bit of that money to make their dreams come true and have their business take-off. God is All-Powerful! There is nothing He can’t do. That’s who we get to pray to. That’s who we get to stand before and bring our requests. (And it’s a lot less intimidating than Shark Tank.)

5) God loves us. That makes no logical sense. Philosophers can conceive of a Creator, or Intelligent Designer, or Prime Mover; but no one can intellectually conceive of a God who truly loves His creation. Jesus is the perfect encapsulation of God’s love. We could see God’s love on display. We may understand that God is All-Knowing and All-Powerful but then forget that He is All-Loving. Christians get to pray to a God who loves them. Just like a Father, He not only hears us, but truly listens. He responds to our prayers. He always answers them. Maybe He doesn’t always answer them in the way in which we initially thought, but He always answers them in love.

God actually speaks to us through our prayers. We think that God speaks to us through Scripture and then we talk to Him through prayer. But I actually think it goes both ways. When we desire to read His Word, we are “telling” Him that we actually care about what He has to say, similarly when God answers our prayers He is telling us that He is listening and that He cares. But I realize that some of you aren’t experiencing that. You are wondering why God isn’t answering your prayers, when you hear so many testimonies of Him answering everybody else’s. So what can you do? Here’s my recommendation.

First, start writing down your requests. I think you are going to be surprised at the amount of requests that God answers the exact way we asked. Your “prayer journal” will not only keep you focused, but will really surprise you in time. Second, keep praying. If you have a big request that you are continually praying for, and God doesn’t seem to be answering it, just keep praying. One of three things will happen. Either God will answer that prayer in time, and you are going to be super-excited. Or, you might just stop caring about a particular request. Sometimes what seemed important to us at first, just stops mattering to us for one reason or another. We can just cross it off the list in our prayer journals if we don’t care about it any more. Finally, if we are praying for something that the All-Knowing God knows is not good for us, He can start changing our prayers. When I am talking to a great friend, we might start talking about church, but end up talking about why the main chick from Jurassic World was wearing high heels the whole movie. The conversation just changes somehow. We might start praying about a new job, but after a few weeks we are suddenly praying for the bank to refinance our house. God sometimes changes our prayers to something He wants to answer.

Prayer is so personal and so intimate and so amazing. Don’t get into some kind of boring habit that loses all meaning for you. Never forget how special praying really is. Feel free to comment on anything else that has helped enhance your prayer life.

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