For the last several weeks, our Sunday school Class has been discussing prayer that works. While we have not discussed a perfect formula for precise prayer, this is a subject that could be debated for years to come. If there were a formula, I would have to say that it would follow what Christ said of worship.
God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in spirit and in truth." John 4:24
Worshipping God in spirit may not be understood by all. However, when you get into the spirit of things you do things in agreement with others. In other words, your prayer must agree with the way you live and what you want from God. For example, praying for someone you canít stand may be seen as a double standard. While you may not like to be near them you are asking God to be near them and love them for you. The truth is that you may not love them and in your attempt to be godly, are going through the motions to please God. It would be better to ask God to help you want to be near them and to love them through his love.
The prayer Christ taught to his disciples is called by some the model prayer.
Our Father 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, for ever. Amen. Matthew 6:9-13 King James
Christians have analyzed this prayer and have created a formula for the perfect prayer. However, how can the perfect prayer be presented in a formula format by flawed beings, unless they come from the heart? Prayers that are formalized soon become religious exercises. It may seem strange but those who teach this formula seldom use the formula the weeks that follow. The only precept that everyone uses as a part of regular prayer is the sacredness of the name of God.
Even if you donít use the formula, God loves you, and going to him to present your needs, by being yourself, is a good way to show God what you are like. When prayers offered in pretense, they can be seen through because they do not fit your character. All of us have seen people that say one thing and do another, and over time you learn whether they keep their word. The words you use, your tone of voice tells more about your sincerity than you could ever know. So prayers have to agree with the way you live and associate with others. You see, God knows you and has seen how you associate with other people.
When people do things out of character you take notice and wonder what are they up to? That should make you wonder if God is asking the same question when you pray. Is it possible for you pray out of Character? It is not a crime to ask God to do things you canít do, but are you asking God to do things that you are not willing to do yourself. Stay in character, be truthful, and tell God why you don't want to do it and in the process you will learn something about your nature. Be God. God is honest and up front with you and he appreciates you doing the same.
Should there be a mandatory length to your prayers? Before you ask this question of yourself. Did your parentís demand that spend an hour of your day to tell them what is go on in your life? That question may sound ridiculous, but it shows a double standard of those teach that you should spend hours praying every day. Do they practice that policy with their children? Take a close look at your prayer life, doesn't your prayer life reflect the relationships you have with others? Remember this, prayer should reflect your personal relationship with God and not the opinion of others.
Your relationship with God is reflected by the way that you pray. Prayer is you talking to your heavenly father reflecting your needs and concerns. However, prayer is also personal worship and should be done in spirit and truth. That is something you can do and still pray in spirit and in truth. Only you can decide if there is a formula for prayer. However, from the writers stand point, if there was a perfect prayer, being yourself, telling the truth and demonstrating your respect for God would go a long way to see your prayer answered. When its all boiled down, isnít the perfect prayer the one that gets answered.