Praying the Right Way

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            Perhaps you agree that in times like these the best thing we can do is pray. Someone in the future may look back on this year and say, “2020, that explains it.” It may take decades for clear vision and heads cool enough for understanding and true perspective. Tim Pool, a commentator, compared the events we’ve weathering to a poorly-written video game. Maybe. I’m not a gamer, but I get the point. In any case, things have gone beyond predictability, beyond the recognizable—perhaps beyond human control. What can we do but pray? The word crisis has taken on new meaning—or no meaning. We’re becoming inured.

            It’s also time to say a few things about prayer, about the form of our requests, about who we are as petitioners, as well as something about the one we address.

            I pray as a Christian. That is my context. I pray to the Father as I’ve learned in the school of Jesus. I’m this kind of learner and these are the basics. One more point remains—the how of it. In my view, we can’t do better than form our prayers on the basis of what we know from Scripture. When I “come before the throne of grace to receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need” (Heb 4: 16), God’s book is what gives me confidence. Endeavoring to pray on that basis, I address the God I know from Scripture. Of course, I know Jesus Christ because he graciously chooses to make himself known, but the Bible keeps me safe from flights of fancy and a pretty active imagination. Prayer in the context of biblical promises, corrections, and basic truth is the right kind of prayer, it seems clear. Scholarship isn’t required! Jesus tells us that the Spirit will bring these things to mind (John 14: 26). 

            The following prayer is a good one for troubling times. It is sound—biblically-based, addressing Jesus. I didn’t write it, but I’m glad to join the one who did. I hope you’ll agree and pray it with me. I’ve noted the biblical foundation I find clearly apparent in it:

            Strengthen my faith, Lord.1 Forgive my sins2 so that I may be clean3 in your righteousnes.4 Make me brave so I can stand and fight the spiritual battles in my life and in our world.5 Give me your wisdom6 and discernment so I won’t be caught off guard.7 Together, Lord, we’ll win, because in truth, you already have.8 While evil still roams9the power of Your name and Your blood rises up to defeat and bring us victory against every evil planned against us.10 While malicious actions may disturb us, we use the armor of God You have given us to stand firm11 You will bring justice in due time for all the harm and needless violence aimed at Your children. Until then, we remain in Your presence, aligned with Your purposes, and we look to You as our Supreme Commander and Protector. Help us to avoid temptation and deliver us from evil, Lord. You are the Mighty One, the One Who will ultimately bring all evil to light. With You, Jesus, we are safe.12 Amen.

Luke 17: 5. This is the request of Jesus’ disciples so we’re in good company.

I John 1:9! Memorize this verse.

Psalm 51: 10, David’s prayer.

Romans 3: 22, “the righteousness of God [is revealed] for all who believe in Jesus Christ.” 

Psalm 108: 13, “Through God we will do valiantly.” 

James 1: 5, “God, who gives [wisdom] liberally to all, and without reproach.”

I John 4: 1, “Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God.” Discernment of spirits is a gift of the Holy Spirit (I Cor 12: 10).

John 19: 30, “Jesus said, ‘It is finished,’ and he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.” 

Job 1: 7, “Roaming about on the earth,” Satan said when God asked where he’d come from.

10 Revelation 12: 11, “they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and the word of their testimony.”

11 Ephesians 6: 13-18, “take up the whole armor of God that you may be able to stand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.”

12 Reread the prayer Jesus taught us, Luke 11:3.

            Just by way of reminder, the name Jesus means “salvation.”

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