Good words on prayer

Our Lord gathers it all up in this marvelously expressive word and says true prayer must begin with a concept of God as Father.

Immediately that eliminates a number of other concepts. It shows us that prayer, real prayer, is never to be addressed to the Chairman of the Committee for Welfare and Relief. Sometimes our prayers take on that aspect. We come expecting a handout. We want something to be poured into our laps, something that we think we need, and in making an appeal we are but filling out the properly prescribed forms.

Nor is prayer addressed to the Chief of the Bureau of Investigation. It is never to be merely a confession of our wrong-doings, with the hope that we may cast ourselves upon the mercy of the court. Nor is it an appeal to the Secretary of the Treasury, some sort of genial international banker whom we hope to interest in financing our projects. Prayer is to be to a Father with a father’s heart, a father’s love, and a father’s strength, and the first and truest note of prayer must be our recognition that we come to this kind of father. We must hear him and come to him as a child, in trust and simplicity and with all the frankness of a child, otherwise it is not prayer.

[…] You will notice that this prayer is not phrased as simply a confession or an expression of repentance to the Father. We are not to pray as so frequently we do pray, “Father, help me to be good,” or “Help me to be better.” Is it not rather remarkable that throughout this whole pattern prayer, not once do you ever find an expression of a desire for help in the sanctification of life? That which is so much our concern, and so much the concern of Scripture, is never once reflected in this prayer. No, Jesus turns our attention entirely away from ourselves to the Father. This phrase, “Hallowed be thy name” is really a cry of helpless trust, in which we are simply standing and saying, “Father, not only do I know that there are areas in my life where thy name is not hallowed, but I know also that only you can hallow them, and I am quite willing to simply stand still and let you be the Holy One who will actually be first in my life.” When we pray that way, then we discover that the rest comes by itself, so to speak.

–Ray Stedman

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