As a side note, I actually decided earlier this year (beginning of March) that this journey was no longer for me at this point in my life. Anyone who has been following this blog since March of last year knows how much of a positive impact that group has had on me. I just felt it was time for me to focus my energy elsewhere.
During this refocusing, I picked up another book – a very different kind of book – that a friend gave me at the end of last summer, and I put this one down, with every intention of finishing it at some point. I finally did a few minutes ago, as I sat with my beloved, leisurely cup of coffee. As I said in my review on Goodreads.com, I really enjoyed the author’s writing style, and I think it was a good book.
A few nights ago (as I was determined to finish before the end of the week, so I could start on my book for summer reading: Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria?), one particular passage jumped out at me. Think what you want, and of course, I welcome your comments and opinions, but I think it’s worth thinking about.
(referring to the Lord’s Prayer) …Jesus said, “This, then, is how you should pray”, not “This, then, is what you should pray.” I’ve always thought it odd that certain religious groups encourage their people to pray the Lord’s Prayer over and over again. They miss the point. The prayer, also called the model prayer, is an outline of what to pray about, not actual words to be prayed. It’s like a cheat sheet to give structure to our prayer time so we pray for the right things in the right progression.
…there are six kinds of things Jesus tells us to include in prayer. Here they are in order:
Hallowed be Your name.
Your kingdom come.
Your will be done.
Give us today our daily bread.
Forgive us our debts.
Lead us not into temptation.
…We should start out a time of prayer by worshiping and honoring God; then we should focus our minds on the expansion of His rule in our lives. Next we should move on to asking Him to align our desires with His will. Next we should turn our attention to praying for specific things we need in life, and then we should ask for forgiveness for personal things…
…Personal forgiveness of sins against God, others, and ourselves ranks fifth in an outline of six things Jesus asks us to focus on in prayer…Until I was able to forgive myself, here’s how my prayers usually started:
Dear God, please forgive me for _______.
Dear God, I’m so sorry that_______.
Dear God, I’m unworthy to talk to you today because _______.
What did all these prayers have in common? ME. They all started with me! It didn’t matter that I was trying to deal with my sins; my prayers always began in a self-centered fashion. But what Jesus seems to be teaching us through the model prayer is that the most important thing we can do to get rid of the gorilla is to put our sins and guilt into proper perspective. The worship of God is paramount. Nothing should come in the way of that…
I’m pretty fascinated by this analysis, and it gave me something to think about. What about you?