“Now it came to pass, as He was praying in a certain place, when He ceased, that one of His disciples said to Him, “Lord, teach us to pray, as John also taught his disciples.” So He said to them, “When you pray, say: Our Father in heaven, Hallowed be Your name…” Luke 11:1-2 (NKJV)
One of the easiest things to do in our prayer time is to make it all about the requests. All of us have probably had the experience of praying and then sometime later realizing that all of our prayer time was focused on asking God to help, to do or to give. Don’t misunderstand what I’m saying here. There is nothing wrong with asking God for things in prayer. In fact I’ll talk about that in a couple of days. However let’s remember who we are talking to in prayer. We are talking to the great and awesome God of the Bible who also chooses to be our Heavenly Father. He is not a genie in a bottle that we only go to when we need Him to do something.
We must always keep in our minds that prayer is a genuine encounter between us and the Living God. So we need to ensure that our prayer life is made up of more than, “Lord I need you to…”, “Lord please help in…”, or “Lord please give me…” What we are desire most of all from our prayers is a deeper relationship with God.
Jesus says we are to pray “…hallowed by your name.” There are several different names for God given in Scripture. Each one has meaning and each one tells us something about the character and the nature of God. To hallow God’s name is to declare His greatness and worthiness. So what we want to do is spend some time in our prayers praising and worshiping our Heavenly Father for who He is and what He has done for us.
Personally I often find this to be the hardest part of my prayer time. Not because I don’t recognize the greatness and worthiness of God but because I struggle with finding the right words to say without repeating the same words over and over again. I’m sure there is nothing wrong with repeatedly saying, “I love you Lord” when that is the genuine sentiment of our hearts. However I want to be sure that my time praising and worshiping God in prayer truly expresses how great and awesome I feel that He.
Since I find it so hard to find the right words to express God’s greatness and majesty I often go to the Psalms and use them. Remember that many Psalms are prayers that were written out and very often used as songs of worship. One of the most common themes in the Psalms is praise and worship being offered to God by the Psalmist. So what I’ll do is find a Psalm that expresses the way I feel or want to praise and worship God and I turn it into a prayer to God.
Psalms I frequently use are Psalm 18, Psalm 27, Psalm 42, Psalm 63, Psalm 84, Psalm 104. Gosh there are so many to choose from. These are just the ones that I turn to most frequently. Obviously I don’t use every part of every Psalm.
There are a couple of different ways you can use these Psalms to praise and worship God. You can simply read them to God as your praise and worship. You can also take some time and pray these thoughts in your own words. When you do either one of these they become praise from you that is being lifted up to God. Since we are using God’s inspired Word to praise and worship Him, we know it is always pleasing to Him. Let me give you an example of what I do.
“I love you Lord. You are my strength, my shield, my fortress, and my deliverer. You are the great and awesome God of my salvation and so I will trust you no matter what comes into my life. I will always call upon You Lord because you are so worthy of my praise. You hear me when I call out in my distress. You care about the problems in my life and you answer me. It is so great to know that my cries come to your ears and you act. Oh how I love you Lord.”
That is based on Psalm 18:1-6. This is one reason I keep my Bible with me when I pray so that I can turn to a Psalm and turn that into a prayer to God.
Find a Psalm that expresses your love and desire for God. Then spend some time turning that into your prayer to God.