I use Tabletalk Magazine from Ligonier Ministries as one of my devotional tools. Today’s reading is entitled, “How to Pray.”
In it, the author explains that though we know the great price Christ paid so that we could commune with God in prayer, and we know that it is our Father’s desire that we pray to him (without ceasing, as Paul instructs), and we know that God hears and answers prayer, we still do not take advantage of
the privilege of prayer. True, we mean well. We establish certain times of the day to approach God, but we find that our minds wander or that all we do is read off a laundry list of our own needs. God is, of course, concerned about these needs (Matt. 6:30), but we sense that we are too self-centered in our prayer lives when all we do is tell God what we need or what we want.
Not knowing how to pray is probably the main reason why we encounter these problems.
Even in this, God has not left us without guidance. The disciples asked Jesus to teach them how to pray, and he taught them. If you think about it, Jesus gave a detailed model for prayer. He included the most important issues concerning the Father, namely, his glory and holiness over the earth, and he included those issues that are most important to us, namely, what I’m having for lunch.
Oh, I’m kidding! My greatest concern, whether I acknowledge it or not, is the glory of God. I’m so sad to admit it, but the problem is that I live way too much of my life like my greatest concern is, well, lunch.
But that is not my point. What I really want to share in this post is that we have powerful resources for prayer. Not only has God given us His Spirit to help us when we do not know what to pray, he has provided the model pray-er in His Son (see Mark 1:35, Luke 11, Matthew 26). One other amazing truth is that if we do indeed have His Spirit living in us, then we have the spirit of adoption. He has adopted us as His own and we can call him Father. It ought to blow our minds that God rejected Jesus so that he could adopt us, call us his daughters and sons.
Finally, we have the Scriptures to help us to keep our minds focused during prayer. Martin Luther wrote the little tract, A Simple Way to Pray. In it he suggests that “Christians use the Ten Commandments, the Apostles’ Creed, and the Lord’s Prayer, as springboards for adoring God, confessing sin, expressing gratitude and pouring forth supplications” (from Tabletalk). I’ve read a little bit of it so far, and it is not a detailed explanation of prayer. It contains some of Luther’s actual prayers using those scriptures.
One interesting tidbit is that Luther wrote the tract for his barber, who had asked for help with his own prayers. Can you just imagine asking a friend for some advice regarding prayer and receiving a small book in response? Luther sincerely cared for his barber’s spiritual health!
(I think the above link to GoogleBooks does not include the whole tract. I think this pdf of the tract includes the whole thing).