Thursday, March 9, 2017

How To Pray: Don't Get Hung Up on Your Performance

When you pray, what do you depend on to decide if you prayed a "good prayer?"

"When you sigh, "if only my prayer were a true prayer," you must be cautioned, because this thought can contain the notion that the quality of your prayer gives it merit. Humble petitioners know that their prayers have no merit. If you believed that your prayers were "good" prayers, then they would be prayers of self-merit. You would then be trusting on your prayer offerings instead of God's gracious reception--trusting in your works instead of God's mercy. If you are waiting to approach God until you can offer "good" or "true" prayers, you are waiting in vain. Humility evaporates when it recognizes itself. The humble person recognizes his pride. A humble person does not see his own prayer as humble. Praying humbly is asking, "God be merciful." ... Pray for humbling grace, so that you might pray as a needy, unworthy supplicant to the great and holy God of the universe. Every cry of broken heart to God is a true prayer. These are the prayers that God delights to hear."

~ Joel Beeke, Developing A Healthy Prayer Life

Consider that you have a high priest who intercedes for you, who always makes the right request of the Father because He is united with Him in His will. Ask your Mediator to make the request for what you need, on your behalf, and then that the Father would grant the request on the basis of the pure motives of the Son, and to glorify Himself.

Romans 8:34
Hebrews 7:24-25
22 so much the more also Jesus has become the guarantee of a better covenant. 23 The former priests, on the one hand, existed in greater numbers because they were prevented by death from continuing, 24 but Jesus, on the other hand, because He continues forever, holds His priesthood permanently. 25 Therefore He is able also to save forever those who draw near to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them.

It's not because you prayed, or how long you prayed, or how you prayed, or what you prayed for, or with what motives you prayed, that persuade God to answer. God already knows what you need before you ask - Matthew 6:8. Therefore, do not trust in your own behavior, but trust in God's graciousness to grant anything you ask in His will, (John 14:13) not because you "asked it right" but so that the Father may be glorified in the Son, as that verse says.

This frees you from having to worry about praying the right way. Ask God to cover your weaknesses. Pray to Jesus to petition the Father for you, for the needs He knows you have, which you may not even be aware of. Then you won't doubt that God would answer your prayers based on how you prayed, because that is no longer the metric you evaluate your own prayers by.

Further reading: Donatism

- W

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