When there are so many things to be thankful for, so much in the world that needs prayer, why is it that we sometimes seem lost for words to pray?
Do we not know how to pray? Is it that there are just too many things to pray about; that we don’t know where to start? Do we have too much on our mind that there is no room for the Spirit of God to direct our prayer? Are we not interested in talking to God? Do we simply not know how to express those things that God has laid up in our hearts?
There are many resources that will tell us how to pray, but we also have the Word of God in Matthew chapter 6 that shows us the heart of prayer.
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Praying in this Manner
Before that famous passage on the Lord’s prayer, Jesus gives an introduction to what prayer is. He says that prayer is speaking to our Father in heaven, investing in that personal relationship with Him (Matthew chapter 6, verse 6). He also says that we do not need to pray with many words because our Father already knows all our needs (Matthew chapter 6, verses 7-8)
So, when Jesus says to pray in this manner, He shows us what prayer really is. It is communication with our Father God at a personal level, investing in that relationship with Him, knowing that He already knows all things, and simply coming before Him to spend time with Him and enjoy His presence.
Categories of prayer are helpful; adoration, thanksgiving, intercession, confession, quiet waiting. However, the heart of prayer is always intimacy with God and it is in this manner that we pray.
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The Lord’s prayer begins:
“… Our Father in heaven
Hallowed be Your name.”
(Matthew chapter 6, verse 9)
I remember going through a season of adoration with my church many years ago. During this time, we focussed on looking at characteristics of God and praying them out, declaring back to God who He had shown Himself to be. I still read my journal from this time. Some pages tell of personal encounters with God through testimony and life experience. Others remind me of how we encounter God’s character through His Word.
When we adore God and praise Him for who He is, we are worshipping Him, and investing in personal relationship with Him. The first commandment, as Jesus says, is to “…love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.” (Matthew chapter 22, verse 37) So, let us adore Him in prayer.
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Where better to go when we are lost for words to pray, than to look the Word of God and see what He desires for our world and our lives?
As we pray through Scripture, we might pray many things:
Submission – God, let Your kingdom come, let Your will be done. We lay ourselves down, repent of our iniquity, and ask You to have Your way. (Matthew chapter 6, verses 10, 14, Psalm chapter 139, verse 24, Proverbs chapter 20, verse 1)
Victory – Lord, you have authority over all kingdoms. You will overcome every adversity, and You have the power to break every chain. Who can stand against You? (1 Chronicles chapter 29, verse 11, Colossians chapter 2, verses 16-17, Revelation chapter 20, verses15-16)
God to move – You are the one who puts the lonely in families, who binds up the broken-hearted, who lifts our feet from the miry clay. Turn the hearts of the people back towards You. (Psalm chapter 68, verse 5-6, Psalm chapter 40, verse 2, Zechariah chapter 1, verse 3)
There is so much in the Word of God that can help us to pray, and as we pray for His Word, we pray God’s Kingdom and His desires over our world.
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Praying in the Spirit
Another helper we have in prayer is the Holy Spirit.
“Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groaning too deep for words. And he who searches hearts knows that is the kind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.” (Romans chapter 8, verses 26-27)
The Holy Spirit helps us to pray when we have no words because He prays out the desires of God. He shows us the heart of God and as we pray in the Spirit, we pray according to the will of God. I remember the first time I spoke in the Spirit. It was during a time of worship at home, as I tried to sing out everything I felt towards God – all the love and thankfulness in my spirit that felt like it was overflowing. As the spirit guided my tongue, I felt a release of all this, like I could finally express the worship I had been trying to express imperfectly in human words.
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When we pray
“For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”
(Matthew chapter 6, verse 21)
Where is our treasure? What do we seek and look for? As we pray, let us look for the treasure that is in the heart of God, the treasure that is in knowing Him, the treasure that is in heaven, wrapped in the presence of our Father above. Let us give our hearts fully to the One who loved us first, for even the simplest of words are sufficient when our hearts are for God. We can simply speak to Him and say, “Lord, I love You.”