Article by Curtis Beaird
Photography by Norma W. Beaird
Pray, prayer, praying. Deep in our soul, we hear it. A faint voice on the other side of silence calls. It is a voice that nudges us toward answering; but, we think we must first try to figure out how to pray. That is a predictable response.
One of Jesus disciples seeing Him pray said,
"Lord, teach us to pray...…" Luke 11:1
Our need to talk to God is great. It is native to us. An approachable God who cares is assumed within our desire to pray. Like the genetics that gives us our eye color, our spirit recognizes The Voice. It is both a familiar and persistent voice. We recognize the sound as a compelling invitation.
But, how? How do I respond? How do I pray?
The attractive possibility that the God who spoke the sun, the moon and the stars into existence might hear and respond to us, sends us, unlike the disciple quoted earlier, scrabbling for The Three Keys, The Seven Steps, The Best Method or The Four Secrets of Prayer.
Huh? Where did all of that come from? What are all these steps, keys and methods about? There is a great gulf fixed between something called The Seven Secrets of Prayer and Jesus’ clear response to his disciples simple request, “Lord teach us to pray."
Instead of life-giving prayer...... Instead of the ebb and flow of the living relationship expressed in conversation with God, we’ve hooked our hopes to a method or a system of praying that soon wears thin.
Unwittingly, we turn prayer, a conversation with God about the core needs of living our lives, into a problem to solve or a system to understand and explain. A series of convoluted steps replaces Jesus simple beginning, "Our Father which art in heaven."
The Father with the Holy name. The One with the will and capacity to create the delicate lily, a child’s smile and a kingdom worthy of Heaven, and necessary to earth, can be spoken to. He can be addressed directly. So, speak to Him. “Our Father…...” Instead, we fumble with getting the steps right. Result? Our prayer becomes routine.
Our effort to manage the latest prayer method replaces the simple and most basic request, “Give us this day our daily bread.” While our table may be full, our spirits are famished. Our need for the bread of life is as great as our need for an improved diet. Tinkering with a system of prayer focuses our attention away from the God that cares enough about us to know our needs before we ask.” Result? Prayer becomes boring.
Our effort to decode some book on the secrets of prayer leads us to miss the obvious. There are no secrets. Jesus’ model, “Forgive us our sins…..” is about as straight forward as it gets. Guilt is debilitating and confining.
The pain pushes us to seek the freedom of forgiveness.
According to Jesus, four words forms the basic request,
“Forgive us our sins…..”
However, if we lose ourselves wandering around in the fog of prayer secrets, we miss the gift we seek - forgiveness. Result? Prayer becomes a doubtful practice.
The effort involved in fiddling with the Keys to Prayer leads us away from a pair of clear requests that Jesus instructs us to make of God the Father.
1. "Lead us not into temptation..…”
2. “Deliver us from evil..…”
Jesus knew temptation and evil were both a demanding presence. They will rip life apart. He clearly teaches that we can ask to be lead away from temptation and freely request to be delivered from evil. If we spend prayer time sorting through a set of prayer keys, we can miss the leading and the deliverance. The result is simple. We quit praying.
The best teacher on prayer is Jesus.
Follow His lead and the the response to the request. “Lord teach us to pray” is but a few words in length and accessible to all. It sounds like this:
Our Father which art in heaven ........hallowed be Thy Name.
Matthew 6: 7 - 13
King James Version
7 But when ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do: for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking.
8 Be not ye therefore like unto them: for your Father knoweth what things ye have need of, before ye ask him.
9 After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name.
10 Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.
11 Give us this day our daily bread.
12 And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.
13 And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen.
Copyright 2013, Curtis Beaird. All rights reserved.