By Clay Myatt
Last week, we began a series of posts in which we are addressing each of Creekside’s four main values. This week’s value is Prayer.
So what is prayer and how do we do it? When Jesus’ disciples asked him to teach them to pray, instead of explaining it to them, he showed them how to do it. We now call what he said to them “The Lord’s Prayer”:
Our Father in heaven,
This model shows us a lot about prayer, but I want to draw attention to three things. First, Jesus implies twice that we will pray each day (“today,” “daily”). Prayer, then, must be something that we need to do each day, not just when we feel like it. It’s too important for the flourishing of our relationship with God to ignore.
Second, there are at least five different types of prayer that Jesus demonstrates for us in the Lord’s Prayer: Adoring (“Hallowed be your name”), Submitting (“Your kingdom come, your will be done”), Asking (“Give us today our daily bread”), Confessing (“Forgive us our debts”), and Rebelling Against Evil (“Lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil”). This has been one of the most helpful points for my own life because it has forced me to ask if all five types of prayer are represented in my prayer life. If one type is missing, it is often telling of where I am with my relationship with God. Let me explain.
I recently heard Pastor Tim Keller make the following observation. Asking someone for something does not require much intimacy as we will do this with colleagues or people with whom we do business. Confessing or sharing our hearts with someone requires a deeper level of intimacy, and we’ll generally only do that with close friends. But adoring is only reserved for a lover – we have a strong impulse to affirm the beauty of the person with whom we are in the deepest form of intimacy. It is striking to me that this is where Jesus wants us to begin our prayers. “Hallowed be your name.” When worship is absent from my prayer life, I’m missing out on the depth of intimacy I could be having with God.
Finally, the Lord’s Prayer is a communal prayer. We say “Our Father in heaven.” Creekside teaches and encourages people to pray privately (Matthew 6:5-8), but we also make it a priority to pray when we gather. We pray in our small groups (OAGs) and we pray in our worship services. We believe there is great power when we come together in prayer, and we want the life of our church to be shaped by this practice. So would you join me in recommitting ourselves to “press on to know the Lord” in prayer (Hosea 6:3)?