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Sabbath: Teach us to Pray — 21 Comments

  1. I think that it is important to understand that God is not concerned about whether our prayers use the right words or not. He has a very good "listening ear".

    I dabbled in natural language processing back in the 1990s and we spent a lot of time discussing meaning and grammar. It turns out that grammar is not as important as some of us imagine; our brain still manages to unscramble what has been said or written and get the meaning out of it. Now some 30 years later, Artificial Intelligence, which is essentially a language model does a pretty good job of working out what we mean when we have a conversation with it. If an algorithm can make sense of what we are saying, then surely God can understand what we are thinking, even if we scramble our words.

    That being said though, there are times when an eloquent thought-out prayer is most appropriate. I am a slow thinker and words do not flow from my lips in an erudite stream on the spur of the moment. If I have to pray in a public meeting I prefer to write my prayer down so that it at least makes sense, and stops me from filling in the gaps with spiritual gobble-de-gook. I know that some people are good at off-the-cuff public prayers but I do not have that talent.

    This week we are looking at the prayerful Psalms. The fact that these prayers have been written down and have become part of our literary heritage speaks volumes of their value. Keep your own prayer Psalms coming. They are a valuable insight into one another's spiritual journey.

    • Thank you for sharing your preference for having something prepared for public prayers. I’m the same way. Many years ago, I was asked to do the intercessory prayer in my church. I was so nervous at the thought of it and spoke with the pastor and asked if he thought it would be all right if I prepared my prayer ahead of time. To my relief, he affirmed my desire and compared the pre-meditated prayer to pre-meditated sermons. I spent a week working on that prayer, asking God to guide my words throughout. Not only was I able to avoid the spiritual gobbledygook, a fair number of people told me afterwards that they were so very blessed by this prayer. (To God be the glory!).

    • I also plan out my prayers that I'm asked to give in the church service and often use scriptures to guide me. I feel this is important as I am praying on behalf of the whole church and not just myself. My personal prayers are more spontaneous, though I'm trying to incorporate more adoration into them as I feel that can be lacking.

      • Incorporating more adoration into your personal prayers - that's a really good point, Christina. I am noticing that theme through the Psalms and it's something that my personal prayers are also lacking. Thank you for sharing.

  2. I am sure enough that by the end of this week many will now see the importance of psalms to their lives in any difficult situation.

  3. Thank you, Brigitte. I've been away from these studies for a while, and today I was led back to them. I had gone back to reading the bible while listening for the Holy Spirit to light up the words He wants me to see. As He inspires me, I am inclined to write down what I see that the Holy Spirit revealed in the text. It blesses me; and makes my day.

    Lately, I have been led to the book of Psalms; and today, back to this study.

    I am always amazed by what I find when I listen with the spiritual eyes and ears which He had blessed me with since I was born again.

    • Celeste – I appreciate your comments and am very happy to find you experiencing the most exciting and exhilarating journey there is – the journey to the heart of God! 😊

  4. About how to pray--I have learned that it is important to focus on Jesus, who tells us He is the way to the Father. When I pray, I use to call upon Jesus' name and I found myself entering into the Holy of Holies. It is the best place to be when praying.

    As I enter, I sense the glory of my Lord, and I react with such wonderful praises and thanksgivings. As we study the "Our Father", Jesus' example of prayer, the first thing He suggests is that we praise God and pray that His will be done. Whenever I am asked to pray for whatever someone request, I first go to the Father in this way and bask in His Holiness and pray what I can sense in Him. Then He draws out my heart's needs and desires, and the needs of those around me and/or in my heart. Sometimes I speak the needs and requests of my heart; and sometimes I don't need to speak. Instead, I feel what my heart is saying, and it flows before Him. It is in these times that I see my faith increase, because I am learning of Whom He really is and that He is capable of doing anything and everything we may ask or need. This is the place where I find all my answers to my problems. It is where He corrects me when I am wrong and shows me the way out. Sometimes He only needs to increase my trust in Him because I can't see beyond my capabilities.

    The more I see Him, the more my love grows for Him and the more I want to please Him.

    Has anyone else had this kind of experience?

  5. During my early post-high school years, I came upon a book entitled, The Prayers of Peter Marshall. I enjoyed the surety and unfaltering direction of the contents, and the more I read them was the more I felt that, of myself, I could never pray an "adequate" prayer. Marshal's prayers were too perfect.

    Soon enough, I pulled myself away from the book. I didn't even know, then, who Peter Marshall was. As I came gradually into my own, I realised that no one could represent, for me, the sincere cries and petitions of my own heart. Today, I feel the same: God is not looking for perfect prayers, He is way ahead of my feeble words and my groanings when I cannot even find the words to convey my feelings and desires and adoration.

    The Psalms are different from the prayers of Peter Marshall, former US White House chaplain; they are different from the contents of common prayer books that one pulls out for specific occasions; the Psalms are the inspired Word of God, they are Scripture. I will gladly pray them as the Spirit gives them utterance. But I will not pray the premeditated prayers of local prayer books.

    • Clive - thank you for your candid statement. I agree wholeheartedly that we need to understand ‘that no one else could represent for us the sincere cries and petitions of our own heart.’ This is why we received the Holy Spirit to guide our prayers and petitions.
      God does not look for perfection in our expressions using the help of AI. He looks for the contrite, humble and willing heart which trusts and follows Him gladly. Seeking His counsel for all circumstance will lead to praising Him in all circumstances.

      • Thanks for your commiseration and endorsement, Brigitte. The Lord expects and intreats us to articulate our needs and our praise and our gratitude. Even to a blind man, He said, What do you want? And the man said, That I might receive my sight.

        I don't mind writing down my own prayer for a momentous occasion, when I want to include critical things I may forget in the heat of the moment. But then, that's still my own prayer.

  6. I think both methods are excellent. I do agree that no one can "represent for me the sincere cries and petitions of my heart", as no one knows me like I do. The Holy Spirit take my garbled, "gobble-de-gook" and presents it to the father because we know not what to pray. God Himself is personally touched with the feelings of our infirmities, As the author of the lesson puts it, it is our "heart to heart with God".
    God bless.

    • God be praised, Christine; a heart to heart with Him is what He requires of us. When you say both methods are excellent, I assume you mean whether one prays spontaneously or scripts his/her prayer.

      • Thanks, Clyve for your comment. Your assumption is correct. I have been asked to pray on behalf my congregation on several occasion and I have used both methods. Hearts were blessed in both cases.

        God bless.


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