January 25th – When You Pray…



Some of the dearest children to me have been taught to pray since babyhood by their mum and dad, and for years they have prayed with a formula which begins: ‘Thank you Lord Jesus for this day ……’ and when it’s grace we get: ‘and for this food’. Or at bedtime: ‘God bless Mummy and Daddy and …….’ and then other members of the family, followed by ‘and make me a good boy/girl, Amen’.
Now I’m not knocking that, but the time will come (and may it be sooner rather than later) that they stop rattling off such a formula … ‘Thank you Lord Jesus for this day …’ and begin to pray with words of their own which indicate a conversation, person-to-person, rather than ritual words. It’s not only children: I recall Dr. A. J. Gossip once confessing that when leading his people in the Lord’s prayer he would sometimes stop in the middle and loudly declare “How wonderful Lord, that these your people can pray so FAST”! William Barclay once said that when leading worship he always had the Lord’s prayer printed before him, because once, while leading public worship, he got lost in it …… Why? …… :”Because”, he said, “I started to think about it”. Now there’s a confession. I’d rather pray than not pray, even if it were but a recital of well-worn words – but I’d rather the oft repeated formulas of prayer become the rungs of a ladder, or the reminders of each area to be turned into our own words of praise and petitions from our hearts.
And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think 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. This then is how you should pray:
“Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name,your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us today our daily bread. Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.” Matthew 6:7-9
Your Prayer: You know the words – turn each phrase, step by step, into your own prayers to your heavenly Father today.
Now read Daniel 9: 1-23

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