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Life of Prayer

Praying like Jesus

Prayer is the assumed foundation for a life of faith, assumed so completely that sometimes we learn a lot about faith (for better or worse), but have little competency at actually praying. It is like the social skill of conversation: it's not the only way to make contact with people, nor is it always exactly what is necessary, but it is difficult to imagine a relationship of real depth and understanding that does not have a good bit of it happening regularly. We all have conversations, but we are not all great conversationalists. The good news is that carrying on great conversations is a learnable skill, and the great news is that this also applies to prayer.

Jesus' disciples knew that they needed to know how to pray, and he knew it too. So, they asked him and he taught them a simple form for powerful prayer.

Read Luke 11:1-13 and Matthew 6:5-15

To begin growing a life of prayer, simply learn from Jesus:

  1. Commit the Lord's Prayer to memory (Mt. 6:9b-13 is the standard version)

  2. Begin to pray that prayer every day, even multiple times per day

  3. Let this pray become a kind of trellis from which to grow your life of prayer:

    1. Read/pray one line or phrase​

    2. Briefly meditate on that line/phrase

    3. Speak to God from your own words as that line/phrase helps you

The next steps of growing in your conversational competency with God:

  • The Psalms is the prayer book of the Bible. Read and pray the Psalms daily. Learn from them the heart language of prayer.

    • It may help you to use a Psalm in a similar fashion as the Lord's Prayer: read/pray a line or verse or two, meditate upon it and then pray with your own words in response.​

    • Memorize Psalms to become part or your regular prayer life; eg, Psalm 1, 23, 100, 103
       

  • Create space to listen to God during your prayer times. This begins with that moment of meditation after reading/praying a line from the Lord's Prayer or a Psalm, but don't stop there. Build your capacity for quietly listening for God over time. You can insert it into a dedicated time of prayer, or create a special time during the day or week to simply practice listening. Be creative.
     

  • You can also adopt or create a more elaborate prayer trellis utilizing prayers from the Bible, especially from Jesus and the Psalms, other scriptures, prayers and/or creeds from the Church or written prayers of your own. You can intersperse quiet, songs or other elements into your trellis.​

    • Feel free to bring questions about this to the staff, as this module (intentionally) does not go in depth on the idea of the trellis. However, here is a brief post to get a little more info.​

    • Here are two examples from Pastor Brian Zahnd: Morning Prayer Liturgy, Evening Prayer Liturgy

 

To complete this module…

Going Deeper: Read this article to catch a vision for what a life of prayer truly could become, along with a couple of practical notes.

Doers

If you do not yet have a daily discipline of prayer, start today. Select a 10-15 minute period of time and block it out on your calendar for the next week. Practice praying. Use the Lord's Prayer as your guide.

If you already have a daily discipline of prayer, choose one of the following steps:

1. Add a second prayer moment to each day. Let Psalm 23, 100 or 103 shape that moment (2-10 minutes).

2. Begin an experiment of keeping God near to your conscious thoughts throughout the day. How often can you return your attention to God each day and what difference does that make to your mood, your responses and your decision making?

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