DAY 1: PRAY
Praying is like, really, REALLY important. We know it’s the whole foundation of our relationship with God. We think about praying more. Sometimes we even set goals to pray more. So why do we not do it? Because it’s boring. I’m just calling it what it is. Because prayer is a discipline.
“Our Father in heaven
hallowed be your name.
Your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread,
and forgive us our debts,
as we also forgive our debtors.
And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil.”
How do we make a daily prayer practice something to look forward to? Well it may not happen over-night, and it won’t happen without you doing WORK, but I can promise you it will be amazeballs. This 6 step break-down is how I keep focus in my prayer life, and have come to love and crave it as much as I love and crave my daily physical activity. I’m a ballet dancer so I’m going to use ballet analogies a lot. Sorry not sorry.
Every single day I take a ballet barre. It’s the fundamental warm-up, strength building, stretch increasing, and technique embedding practice that every ballet dancer does. It’s a series of exercises that work progressively through the body. Sound kind of like the prayer formula? YEP. It’s just like the discipline of prayer. There are days my body and my spirit complain bitterly when I step to the barre, and days when it feels like the best thing in the world. But here is the most important thing to remember: my body gets the exact same benefits of barre no matter what my feelings are. Do you understand this? You can feel like crap and hate every minute of your prayer time, but you STILL REAP THE REWARDS OF IT. You still get stronger. So do it no matter how you feel.
You don’t need motivation to be disciplined. You need discipline to be motivated. If you wait to “feel like it” you’ll only go in phases and false starts. Discipline is the practice of doing something regularly whether or not you feel like it. It’s a muscle that you build. If your parents didn’t raise you to be self-disciplined, if you are not a naturally driven or willful person, and if you don’t have a life practice that instills discipline then welcome to the masses. Discipline does not come naturally, but EVERYONE is capable of it. Literally, no exceptions.
On to the prayer formula! Jesus taught us how to pray in Matthew. I can almost see the bullet points, so I put them in for us. Jesus was like, “Ok, since you’re obviously not picking this up just from listening to and watching me Ima break this down.” There are going to be additions to each of these as the days go on.
1. Our Father in heaven
“Father” in the Hebrew is “Abba” which means “Daddy”. He’s actually calling the orchestrator of the universe Daddy. Why? BECAUSE THAT’S REAL LIFE. He’s our dad. This should really change how you view God. He loves you like the best, sweetest, most amazing super-hero daddy with a little one in his arms, wiping tears, kissing boo-boos, cheering them on, and loving that little cutie so much just because they ARE, not because of what they DO. You are that kid. That daddy is God. That’s how loved you are RIGHT NOW.
2. Hollowed be your name
Praise! I love that this follows the “Daddy” intro because it’s like how little kids talk about their dad. “My dad is the strongest, fastest, bravest, and smartest!” Except there are no wounds here because God never falls short. Tell him why he’s your favorite! Call him by his holy names. There are A LOT more than this but here are a few along with where they're first found and how many times they're used...
Elohim: GOD, Genesis 1:1 (Once)
Yahweh: Lord, Jehovah, Genesis 2:4 (6,519 times)
El Elyon: The Most High God, Genesis 14:18 (52 times)
Adonai: Lord, Master, Genesis 15:2 (434 times)
El Shaddai: Lord God Almighty, Genesis 17:1 (48 times)
El Olam: The Everlasting God, Genesis 21:33 (439 times)
El Qanna: Jealous God, Exodus 20:5 (6 times)
3. Your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven
What does God’s even kingdom mean? These antiquated words throw us off. You could insert community, country, government, or society here and that’s what it means. We’re declaring, “Let this crazy world be perfect the way your world is perfect!”
His "will"…his rulings, his governing, his guidance for everything. We’re asking that his policies be put in place here on earth the same as they are in his perfect world. I’m down for that.
There is biblical evidence to support daily prayer for political leaders everywhere from community to global. This is tough, especially right now. I don’t particularly want to pray for politics because I am so fed up. There’s a lot of hurt and un-forgiveness sitting in me becoming resentment when it comes to political leaders. I think we can agree we all gotta give that up and allow love and light to live everywhere in our hearts. So if you’re not ready to pray for leaders or you’re not sure where to start, literally start there. Tell God exactly how you feel, all the emotions, and ask the Holy Spirit to guide your heart and your thoughts to where you should let go and where you should pray. Asking to be made willing to be willing is a real thing and God sees that.
4. Give us this day our daily bread
This is where you ask. We’re gonna talk about this a lot more later on, but this is where you lay out the stuff that needs fixing, filling, healing, and helping. Remember that once you’ve asked you don’t have to remind him. He heard you. You don’t have to nag. God knows your heart and your needs, so once you’ve asked him for those things put them on your “to thank for how they will be fulfilled” list! Like I said, more on this later.
5. Forgive us our debts as we also forgive our debtors
Forgiveness! We’ve been brain washed that asking forgiveness is shameful, weak, and failure. FALSE. Asking forgiveness breeds the irresistible humility and confidence present only in people who know their value is NOT based in perfect behavior. Fact #1: I am human. Fact #2: I am not perfectly loving or obedient to what God has asked of me all of the time. Fact #3: that’s to be expected and I get to let it go every day. Fact #4: you can’t get rid of the failure hang over on your own. Jesus did it. He’s the only way to shake it off. So, with a joyful heart set down your stuff every day! Why carry it for weeks, months, years? Why work so hard finding reasons “why”, when you can just put it down?
Energetically speaking we cannot be filled fully with the light of God if there are dark spots of resentment in us because light and dark cannot occupy the same space; it’s a law of nature. We’re gonna talk more about forgiveness because it’s a big freaking deal.
6. Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil
This is so huge. This is Jesus acknowledging the battle that is raging in the spirit realm. He knows we’re under constant attack. He also knows we’re powerful warriors when we train in using scripture to fight lies with truth. This leads beautifully into tomorrow’s Every Day Faith bullet point! So convenient. This is where praying through the armor of God (Ephesians 6:13-18) is clutch. More on this another day.
And that’s the 6 step prayer break-down! I’m not saying you’re going to become a four hour prayer warrior tomorrow, but I am saying you’ll be pleasantly surprised how much simpler, less painful, and more meaningful your prayer time becomes.
Idea: set 5 minutes for each section of prayer. That’s 20 minutes right there! Let this be an organic process of finding the right time of day, length of time, and what you add to this, but discipline yourself to START and KEEP GOING. I would like to add that if you feel focused and peaceful and end up praying for 45 minutes one day, but the next day you trudge through 17 minutes battling distractions and negativity then you’re doing it right. This is the human condition.
Action: Write your prayer intention down. Set an alarm in your phone. No matter what DO NOT SKIP IT. Keep your prayer log handy and your bible open. Arrive, say hello to God, and start walking through the practice.
MORE: In case you want extra verses to support the whole idea that we should be spending time with God. Also known as abiding. More on these specifically another day...
Matthew 22:37-40, "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the greatest and first commandment."
All of John 15, but particularly verses 4-7, "Abide in me and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine, you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him he is that bears much fruit for apart from me you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in me he is thrown away like a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown in the fire, and burned. If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish and it will be done for you."
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