I like checklists. But sometimes checklists are the exact opposite of what I need.
Checklists make me think that everything is urgent. I must stay focused to mark off those little boxes. And what if I don’t? Have I failed?
That mentality often affects my prayer life as well. Have I said the right things? Have I worked through my prayer list correctly? What if I am not doing it the right way? Will God still hear me? What if I leave something out? Can my prayer list really cover everything that needs to be covered?
So, I go back to Scripture and I see a wonderful formula in the Lord’s Prayer. If I just follow that formula, it will all be okay, right?
But then I realize that I’m just repeating words. Am I really praying? Or am I just right back at the beginning, wondering if I’ve really done this things correctly?
Recently I read a devotional by Spurgeon dealing with the spirit behind the Lord’s Prayer. It was like a breath of fresh air. It’s not about right or wrong – it’s about how our prayers move us into the right attitude as we stand before the throne of God.
a frame of mind to recognize His holiness
surrender to His will, recognizing that furthering His kingdom is of utmost importance
recognition of His provision, putting aside worry and anxiety as we rest in that knowledge
recognition of our sin and need for His forgiveness
a right consideration of, acknowledging that they, too, need forgiveness
a vision of the reality that He is our deliverer and that He holds all power and authority
All of these things put us in a frame of mind to interact relationally and submissively in prayer to an Almighty God. It’s not about the formula. It’s never about the formula. It’s about the relational interaction.
I will never truly grow in Christ until I surrender my formulas. I will simply go through motions that result in systematic action rather than heart interaction. I choose instead to step into an active relationship with Him. When I do, my prayers will never be wrong.