Editor’s note: The purpose of this series is to write on “Issues in the Church” that either aren’t talked about, ignored entirely, or that we want to contribute to the discussion on. Our goal with this series is to help our readers think through these issues from a biblical worldview with lots of practical gospel-application.
- Joel opened up our series looking at expository preaching: an end goal more than a style.
- Mike Cooper wrote on pastoral hospital visits.
- Dr. Josh Buice answered to important questions about expository preaching.
- Dr. David Schrock wrote on the question, “What is Jesus’s Evangelism Program?”
- Dave wrote on how to care for your pastor.
- Dave wrote on three keys to sermon listening and note-taking.
- Today Joey Tomlinson writes about the priority of regularly communing with God.
As a pastor at a local church, I am constantly told by people in our congregation that they don’t know how to pray or that they don’t know what to pray for. As a matter of fact, I have never met anyone satisfied with their prayer life. Now, I want to be careful when making a statement like that. Far too often, I think the act of prayer can become idolatry. The discipline of prayer is not the end goal. Communion with God should be the priority of our hearts. This is convicting to me. Do I pray seeking communion with the God of the cosmos understanding that this is made possible only by the life, death, resurrection and interceding work of Christ? Or do I pray mind numbing, thoughtless, repetitious prayers in an effort to keep with the discipline of prayer?
In other words, how can I pray in a way that honors the Lord who is faithful to hear my prayers?
I truly believe that one of the reasons God gave us the Scriptures is to direct us to pray God-centered, gospel-saturated prayers.
Consider, the prayer Jesus taught the disciples understanding that His teaching is relevant for you and me today:
“And when you pray, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do, for they think that they will be heard for their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him. Pray then like this: “Our Father in heaven, hallowed by your name. Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.” (Matthew 6:7-13 ESV)
Consider what Jesus is saying in this passage:
Don’t babble with meaningless, repetitious words. God isn’t impressed by the quantity of your prayers.
Our prayers begin and end with being God-centered.
God is in heaven. (Matthew 6:9)
God is holy. (Matthew 6:9)
God’s will is done in heaven. (Matthew 6:10)
God’s will is being done on earth. (Matthew 6:10)
God is the giver of our daily portion. (Matthew 6:11)
God is the forgiver of sin. (Matthew 6:12)
God’s grace and mercy causes us to forgive others. (Matthew 6:12)
God is not a tempter and gives the grace to endure temptations. (Matthew 6:13; 1st Corinthians 10:13)
God, in Christ, delivers us from evil. (Matthew 6:13; John 16:33)
This prayer is so rich. It reminds me of how much I compromise in my own prayer life. God has given us this precious gift of prayer and has even demonstrated how to do it all throughout His Word. If you find that your prayer life seems dull and repetitious, be encouraged by praying the Scriptures. Maybe start here with the Lord’s Prayer. Perhaps try praying through a few verses in the Psalms on a daily basis. I can testify that if you do this, you will begin to look forward to communing with God through the joy of prayer.
Joey Tomlinson (DMin, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary) is a husband, father, and pastor at a local church in Newport News, Virginia. He blogs regularly on broadoakpiety.org and hosts a weekly podcast called The Broad Oak Piety Podcast with another local pastor in the community.