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A Life of Prayer

Whenever I get a chance to talk with people about their day to day spiritual lives I often ask them “what would you improve about your faith journey if you could?” Almost every single time the answer is a richer and more vibrant prayer life. It seems such a small thing, and something everyone should be able to do consistently and with earnestness. But a dedicated and vibrant prayer life is no easy thing to accomplish. Most of us struggle with a busy schedule. Our free time is often filled with Netflix ques, family time, social media interactions, and so on. John Piper aptly pointed out that “One of the great uses of Twitter and Facebook will be to prove at the last day that prayerlessness was not from a lack of time.” And this could be said about any number of things that grab our attention away from our relationship with Christ. But it is not just about our lack of time (or poor use of it) that prevents a healthy prayer life. Many of us Christians just don’t know how to pray, or for what we are to pray.

Prayer is as essential to our lives as the air we breathe. It is both a conversation and an encounter with God. It leads us into the spiritual reality of his presence. God is both the all-powerful creator of the universe, and yet a Father eager to hear from us. In his book, A Simple Way to Pray, Martin Luther offers a simple way to pray that mirrors the Lord’s Prayer taught to us by Jesus. It is an easy framework to center our hearts and minds, and focus on who God is and our relationship with him. Here is what his outline looks like:

Our Father Who Art in Heaven - An address, a way to start by asking God to “implant in our hearts a comforting trust in your fatherly love.” Spend a few moments considering how immense and powerful our God is.

Hallowed Be Thy Name - A request that faith in God would spread throughout the world, that Christians would honor God with the Christlikeness or holiness of their lives, and that more and more people would honor God and call on his name…to have a heart of grateful joy toward God - and even more, a wondrous sense of his beauty.

Thy Kingdom Come - The “Lordship” petition: asking God to extend his royal power over every part of our lives - emotions, desires, thoughts and commitments.

Thy Will Be Done - Trust in God; “grant us the grace to bear willingly all sorts of sickness, poverty, disgrace, suffering, and adversity and to recognize that in this your divine will is crucifying our will.” Our joys, our sufferings, all adds to the story of our lives.

Give Us This Day Our Daily Bread – “To come with our needs expectant of positive response, but we do so changed by our satisfaction in him and our trust of him. It is also to pray for a prosperous and just social order.”

Forgive Us Our Debts as We Forgive Our Debtors - Seek forgiveness, both with God and others; see our sin and withhold any grudges.

Lead Us Not into Temptation - Pray against entertaining and considering the prospects of giving in to sin. What are you struggling with? Be honest with God, He already knows.

Deliver Us from Evil - Protection from evil outside us, from malignant forces in the world.

For Thine is the Kingdom, the Power, and the Glory Forever - After descending into our needs, troubles, and limitations, we return to the truth of God’s complete sufficiency.

Luther urges us to take one part of this each day and focus on it, praying through it with renewed eyes and heart. When we take time to focus and pray our minds are at ease because we know that the one who holds our lives in His hands is faithful and in control.

On Sunday mornings during the 8:45 and 10:45 services SPC has an amazing dedicated prayer team that is available to pray with those attending service. These men and women serve diligently, praying for the people, community, and staff of Sycamore Presbyterian Church. They have made it their mission to be in constant prayer for the church and its people. They are available to anyone who is in need. Maybe you or someone you know is struggling and needs others to pray with you. Perhaps your life is filled with joy and you want to share that joy that the Lord has put in your heart. Our prayer team desires to give you a chance to share your joys, share your struggles, and hear your story. Make sure you look for them each Sunday at the front, right side of the aisle near the chancel. Let us come alongside you in prayer and share on this faith journey.

- Drew Hood