This past weekend, we talked about how to pray. The goal was to lay out, in clear and simple terms, how to begin in prayer. Because, prayer isn’t something you master, but rather something you continually grow in. In essence, I wanted to lay out some of the foundations or basics of prayer.
We began by looking at four foundational kinds of prayer:
“Wow prayers” are prayers of praise. This is where we proclaim to God our appreciation, awe, and wonder. And, they appear throughout the Psalms in which the writers say things like, “How great is our God, and how much we should praise him.” (Psalm 48:1).
These are prayers that we need to learn to pray. But, I shared that often, in the Western world, we can find these prayers difficult, because it can seem odd to remind God of His greatness. But, really what we are doing isn’t to just remind God of His greatness, but also to remind us, and to appreciate what we experience.
The truth is, whenever we experience something great (i.e. a sunset, a great meal, mountains, etc.), the experience isn’t truly complete until we share about it, and actually say it. That’s what “wow prayers” are about: Completing the experience with God by appreciating the greatness of our God.
Then, we looked at prayers of “thanks.” These are prayers of gratitude and thanksgiving for all that God gives to us. And, when these kind of prayers become a habit, God’s presence becomes a reality. I don’t think I’ve ever felt close to God when I’ve been angry, stingy, closed off, and full of ingratitude, but I’ve often felt close to God when I’m full of gratitude and thanks. So, this is the second kind of prayer we need to learn to pray.
Third, we looked at prayers of “help.” These are the prayers you are likely most familiar with, in which we say, “Help!” – “Help in this disaster.” “Help in this test.” “Help in this situation.” This is when we come to God with our needs, and ask for His intervention. This is incredibly important, but if it becomes the sole focus of our prayers, we will soon end up disconnected as well, turning God from a Saviour into a vending machine.
Last, we looked at prayers of “sorry.” These are prayers of confession, in which we honestly admit our flaws. And, we do this, not out of shame, but out of a desire for the relationship to be restored. Because, confession is the first step toward restoring a relationship and trust. So, we need to go to God and confess our sins, as He is faithful and just to forgive us.
So, that’s where we ended up, encouraging all of us to pray prayers of “Wow, Thanks, Help, and Sorry.” And, when we do this to not forget to listen to God and to keep at it, even if it gets hard.