I like to color outside the lines.
I don’t like formulas or outlines. I rarely have a clue what will show up on a page when I sit down to write. My numbered lists (like the 15 things that will happen if you join the Thank You Revolution) usually start with an “X” in place of the number. I might have a general idea of the 4 things you can do to improve your presentations, but the final number is always a mystery.
So when I stumbled upon a “formula” for prayer that works for me, I was shocked. I think “prayer formulas” and other inventions of the church are ridiculous. The very word formula means, among other similar definitions:
a set form of words, as for stating or declaring something definitely or authoritatively, for indicating procedure to be followed, or for prescribed use on some ceremonial occasion.
any fixed or conventional method for doing something
a recipe or prescription:
Meh. Not exactly what I call a conversation, which is exactly what prayer should be.
Instead, we play Christian chef.
Let’s start with some praise. Throw in a little thankfulness. Gotta add some repentance. OK, now time for the good stuff. OK, let’s see. Gotta pray for the sick, yeah, yeah. Check. Oh boy, should I really ask for that? Well, it can’t hurt. Here are my requests. And I don’t think I used enough praise earlier, so sprinkle some more on top, and…it’s soup. Prayer soup. Amen.
But this “formula” (I prefer the term “model”) is one you already know…it’s from Matthew, Chapter 6:
which art in heaven,
Hallowed be thy name.
Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done
in earth, as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our debts,
as we forgive our debtors.
And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil.
For thine is the kingdom,
and the power,
and the glory, forever.
The good news is that we all know it. The bad news is that we all know it. Those words easily become easily spoken, difficult to understand words with no meaning.
I know I am not the first to do this, but out of nowhere recently, I wrote my own prayer based on that model. I noticed that, for the first time, I revealed my true thoughts about God and what I truly need from Him (hint: it’s not a bigger house or new client).
I encourage you to do the same thing for the next 40 days through Easter. Don’t share it here. It’s not for anyone else to see. It should be your personal prayer to God.
You can still color outside the lines. You should still pray what is on your heart. But I do believe that this model was given to us for our benefit, so make sure to use it.
If you’ve ever done this, what did you experience? If not, what do you look forward to most?