March 6, 2016: Pray Without Ceasing (Part Two)
Lord, teach us to pray (v. 1).
When you pray, open your Bible and pray God’s words back to him. It may sound strange, but those who know most about prayer pray just this way!
The form of the prayer Jesus taught his disciples, what we know as the Lord’s Prayer, came from the part of the synagogue liturgy of Jesus’ day known as theAmidah. The heart of the Amidah was called the Shemoneh Esreh, 18 blessings of God prayed three times daily. Three times a day, every day, devout Jews would lift their hands to heaven and pray, “Blessed be you, O God, ruler of the universe for…”—and then name 18 different gifts that God gave them every day. What is important for us to know here is that each blessing was taken from the Bible.
Jesus was urging his disciples to pray with the words of the Bible, just as he did on the cross when he cried out in the words of Psalm 22, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” He was thereby teaching us to use the Bible when we pray. Let me say this candidly: the human heart, as important to us as it is for falling in love or writing a poem or admiring a sunset, is too narrow and shallow a thing on which to build a life of prayer. We need to pray not only from the heart but also from the Bible! The Bible is designed to give us the words to pray.
Prayer: Lord, help us use your words in our prayers.