Transformative Prayer

“When you are praying, do not heap up empty phrases as the gentiles do, for they think that they will be heard because of their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.
“Pray, then, in this way:
Our Father in heaven,
may your name be revered as holy.
May your kingdom come.
May your will be done
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread.
And forgive us our debts,
as we also have forgiven our debtors.
And do not bring us to the time of trial,
but rescue us from the evil one.
“For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, but if you do not forgive others, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.” (Matthew 6:7–15 NRSV)

I have been struck most recently by the frequency with which prayers of the Old and New Testaments alike begin with a reminder of who God is. Certainly, there is language in many prayers about what God has done, and make no mistake, he has done exceedingly more than we can even acknowledge! But recently I am taken aback by how often the praying people of Scripture begin their best and most transformational prayers by reminding themselves of who God is.

Daniel reminds himself of God’s righteousness.

David wrote psalms that reminded himself of God as a deliverer.

Moses often reflected on God’s faithfulness.

Lydia worshipped God, even before Paul arrived in Acts 16 and subsequently baptized her.

And, of course, Jesus reminds us that when we pray, we should begin this way, following the pattern of beginning prayers by reminding ourselves we stand before a holy God.

There is something in beginning prayer before a holy God that cannot help but transform us if we are willing. And that transformation follows a path of peace.

Richard Foster writes in Celebration of Discipline, “To pray is to change. Prayer is the central avenue God uses to transform us. If we are unwilling to change, we will abandon prayer as a noticeable characteristic of our lives. The closer we come to the heartbeat of God the more we see our need and the more we desire to be conformed to Christ.”

As you pray the Lord’s Prayer this day, may your heart usher in his peace as you welcome the Kingdom way in your life. May you be reminded, so powerfully, of the privilege to stand before a holy God who longs to be with you.
Stu Streeter is the VP of Ministry Advancement and Church Multiplication.