Prayer 101: How You Can Strengthen Your Prayer Life
- 2007 25 Sep
Over the course of my life, there have been several times when I thought it might be the end.
For instance, once when I was in college I had been very sick with chicken pox and then had to stay up all night studying before taking my mid-terms. And after my midterms I had to drive back home to my parents’ house feeling just awful!
I’ll never forget… it was pouring down rain, I was sleepy, and somehow I just dozed off. I remember waking up just in time to avoid hitting the car in front of me, and I swerved off the road not knowing what I would hit. In that moment I cried out, “Lord, help!” Needless to say, I made it through.
Then there was the time a few years back when I was in a private plane flying back to Houston and we had a crash landing. We were fortunate to have a tremendous pilot and thankfully, no one was hurt. But on the way down in the plane, the prayer that overcame me was, “Thank You, Lord. Thank You for my family and my life.”
We’ve all had those moments when we’ve prayed prayers like the ones I prayed. But that’s not really praying, is it? Those prayers are crisis prayers. They’re last-second, desperation prayers!
As a pastor, I can tell you that most of the Christian men and women I talk to would like their prayer life to be more than just random outbursts to God in the midst of desperation. They would like to improve their prayer life. They want a real, intimate, interactive prayer life. Like the kind of prayer life Jesus had.
The apostles studied Jesus’ lifestyle. They saw Him go off by Himself to pray at all hours of the day. And they would see Jesus come back from these prayer times with the Father invigorated, alive, refreshed, and motivated. So they asked Jesus to teach them how to pray!
Jesus gives them a model prayer in Luke 11:
“Father, hallowed be Your name. Your kingdom come. Give us each day our daily bread. And forgive us our sins, For we ourselves also forgive everyone who is indebted to us. And lead us not into temptation.”
Now, this is not the Lord’s Prayer, but a model prayer. It is an outline for prayer, a pattern for prayer. And there are six basic ingredients in this prayer that I want to share with you today.
I have formed these six factors around the acronym CHRIST.
C stands for concentrate. The first word in the model prayer is “Father.” Almighty God says that His children are to go to Him and call Him Father. We are to concentrate on Him as God, Father, His nature, His character, His dominion, His omnipresence. That’s the first ingredient.
H stands for hallowed. “Hallowed be Your name.” The name of God is not to be used in a pedestrian or profane sense. It is to be set aside, it is unique, it is holy. It is to be separate from all other names.
R stands for ruler. “Your kingdom come.” It is His kingdom. His agenda in heaven is the same agenda He has for earth. We should not pray for God to bless our kingdom and agendas, but rather that we may be in the middle of His plan and kingdom…which is anywhere Jesus is Lord. Anywhere God’s will rules and reigns is where you will find the kingdom of God.
I stands for I need. “Give us each day our daily bread.” This is where the pattern of prayer changes. We are simply to pray for the needs of today… not tomorrow. And it’s not what we want or what we desire, but what we need.
S stands for sin. “And forgive us our sins, For we ourselves also forgive everyone who is indebted to us.” We are to ask forgiveness for our sin. This is a prayer for believers, not for unbelievers. If we forgive those who have sinned against us, we too will be forgiven.
T stands for temptation. “And lead us not into temptation.” This does not mean, “God, do not try to trick or tempt me,” but rather, “Lord, please make sure I do not get entrapped by the world. Keep me away from the wrong crowd.”
Remember, this is not a rote prayer. This is simply an outline. A model for communication with the Lord our God.
Prayer can be as ordinary as picking up the telephone…but as awesome and incredulous as discovering that almighty God is on the other end of the call!
It’s my prayer that you will remember the word CHRIST in your prayer time this week and in the weeks to come. I hope this powerful tool will help strengthen your prayer time…and your relationship with Him!