Tuesday, April 6th Matthew 6:7-8

“When you are praying, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do; for they think that they will be heard because of their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.” Matthew 6:7-8

“What do people say when they pray?”

It’s a pretty straight-forward question – one we ought to be able to answer. If spending time in prayer each day is an important discipleship skill, we ought to have some sense of what to say.

And we also have to learn to listen.

I go with the 2/3’s, 1/3 plan here. 2/3’s of the prayer in my life is listening and 1/3 is talking. I guess that comes from the old “we have two ears and one mouth, use accordingly” principle.

Listening prayer is simply listening. It is spending time, consciously aware of God’s presence, wondering about life, listening to myself, trusting God to come to me in my internal reflections.

But then there is the other 1/3. What do we say? How do we make sure we aren’t just filling the air with meaningless prattle and empty syllables? Here’s one idea:

The following ten step prayer form comes from Herb Miller’s book, “Connecting with God,” (Abington Press, Nashville, 1994. Pp.66-67.) Print this out, put it in your Bible and begin trying it.

1. In preparation, set aside fifteen minutes in a location where you can be physically relaxed and there is little likelihood of interruption. Read one or two chapters from the Bible, listening for what God says to you. This helps erase distracting thoughts from the blackboard of your mind…

2. Close your eyes and give thanks for three personal blessings of which you are especially conscious today. This helps you move toward God by moving away from a sense of your own self-sufficiency.

3. Ask God to help three other persons whom you feel need God’s help today. Ask God to help your pastor(s). This helps you move toward God by moving away from a sense of your own self-sufficiency.

4. Ask God to forgive your mistakes and sins, and give you the strength to forgive others.

5. Ask God to help one person you find it hard to like. Ask God to give that person insights into his/her personal problems, and ask for the power to let God’s love flow through you to him/her.

6. Ask that you be sensitive today to the needs of one person with whom you can share God’s love in word or deed.

7. Ask for insight into your personal problems.

8. Ask for help in achieving your personal goals.

9. Ask that God tell you the most important thing you need to do today in order to “seek first His kingdom.”

10. Conclude by listening intently (for the remaining time) to what God might say to you.

Give it a try – all you have to lose is your fear that you don’t know what to say when you pray!

Let us pray: Dear Lord, hear us as we pray. Speak your Word through our sighs as we struggle through our first baby steps into developing a prayer life. Encourage us to make the time that we can take to be with you each day in prayer. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

2 Responses to “Tuesday, April 6th Matthew 6:7-8”

  1. Joene Herr Says:

    thank you for posting Herb Miller’s suggestions – I am familiar w/him but not that particular book. I am going to share those suggestions with the congregation I serve. I’ve been ordained only 3 1/2 years, at St. Matthew that long and I try periodically to suggest new ways to pray – last year was focused on ‘the children’ – teaching the Lord’s Prayer and praying using our five fingers.

    thank you again for these Daily Devotions. Know that you are feeding me with the Word of God and I need it!

  2. Gloria Smith-Rockhold Says:

    Your devotion today is very meaningful. I, like many others I think, have a hard time knowing how to pray and what to pray for. The 10 steps will really help. My prayer life is the most neglected part of being a Christian so thanks so much for the help.

    I will also share with my pastor so he can perhaps weave the ideas into a sermon or two.

    Thanks for your ministry. I look forward to reading your thoughts every day.

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