Help Me Pray
“Pray then like this: “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 have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses” (Matthew 6:9–15).
“The dubious affinity between sports and religion ran into a whirlwind on Monday night, December 2, 1974, when the Miami Dolphins played hosts to the Cincinnati Bengals. As usual, just prior to the game, an invocation was offered. The Reverend Richard J. Bailar of the United ‘Church of Christ asked the Lord’s blessings on the night’s game. It was a shocker:
Creator God: Father and Mother of us all: We give You thanks for the joy and excitement occasioned by this game. We pray for the physical well-being of all the gladiators who run the gamut of gridiron battle tonight.… but, knowing that the tigers are voracious beasts of prey, we ask You to be especially watchful over our gentle dolphins. Limit, if You will, the obfuscations of Cosell’s acidulous tongue, so that he may describe this night truly and grammatically as it is.… A great game, in a great city, played before Your grateful children, on whom we ask peace and shalom. Amen.’”1
I am sure we have all been put into a spot where you were called upon to pray and as you silently bowed your head, sweat bleeding down your face, awaiting the awkward silence to end, you search for the words to say and as you do speak it is muttered, shaky, and sounds like a record that skips (or cd’s if some do not remember records). Others may still have been able to beat out the beaming looks from the pastor, deacons, and/or Sunday school teaches as they search for someone to pray. At some point if you have not already heard, you will receive encouragement from others saying to speak from the heart and you think in your head, “it’s so easy for you to say.” Well, they are correct, and I want to build upon that some, as the manliest men quiver at the thought of praying in their own homes.
As a pastor and counselor I run across many issues in others’ lives including married lives. Every problem that has become a foothold in their life or relationship, there has been either no prayer or the lack of prayer. As I search the closets of their prayer life one item has become a constant, and it was the fear of not praying “right” or fearing what to say or worse complacency. Not everyone is outgoing and truth be told some of the greatest in the Bible was not very outgoing. Even Moses had to have his brother Aaron speak for him, (in public, because Moses did speak to God).
Matthew chapter six, the disciples are warned of not praying for the acceptance or attention from others, which leads the disciples to ask how to pray. Understand this is a model. It is great to memorize and understand but again it is just a model. Let me suggest some things that helped me. The first thing to understand when you pray is it is between you and Jesus. No one around you has anything to do with you praying. As you close your eyes, vision yourself and Jesus where ever you are at, no one else around. Get ready for the next step: it is a doozy, speak to Him. That is it, you are speaking to Jesus. Whatever is on your heart you tell Him about it because if it matters to you it matters to Him. It does not matter how it comes out or the order it is spoken in, He knows what is in your heart. That is what matters, because some of the best speakers can pray using knowledge and fancy words (like those praying in the streets), but unless it is from the heart it does not matter. Remember throughout the Bible that the emphasis is always on the heart. The prayer that was prayed in the illustration above, I am sure most of you chuckled at it and I know many laughed at it in 1974, but the Dolphins won 24-3.
For those who run from prayer, what I suggest, is to remember that Satan trembles at the thought of you praying. Now, more often than not, I hear the famous excuse, “Jesus knows my heart and I can pray silently” and that is exactly right, He does and you can. I want to remind you though that God did not think the world into existence, He spoke it! Next, begin praying at meals and other times throughout the day aloud and speak from the heart. Do not focus on words and how it sounds. Start out thanking Him for the blessing you have already received for the day, then if there is something you need ask for it. Talk aloud to God in your car (do not close your eyes while driving). Two things will happen as you begin to pray, one, problems in your life other footholds will be defeated, two, your confidence will rise and the next time someone asks you to pray you will notice how much easier it is to talk to Jesus and not worry about those around you. For those who have no problems praying aloud, teach those around that have trouble and encourage them through prayer.
Make prayer a priority!
-Pastor Robb Marshall
If you have never prayed a day in your life, and have problems running rampant throughout your life, and want to accept Jesus Christ into your life, simply bow your head and repeat these words from the heart,
“Dear God I know I’m a sinner, I know I am not where I want to be, and I want your forgiveness! I believe that Jesus died on the cross to pay the price for my sins and rose again and is alive today!
Please wash me clean from all sin, shame, and guilt, come into my life Jesus to be my Lord and Savior. I ask this in your name Jesus.
*Next find yourself a Bible believing church where there are real people with real problems who aren’t afraid to admit that. And that they know how to take these real problems to God.
*Take time to read from the Bible, if you want, you can start with the Gospel of John and then the book of Romans in the New Testament.
1 James A. Michener, Sports in America, (New York: Random House, Inc., 1976), p. 384. Used by permission.
 G. Curtis Jones, 1000 Illustrations for Preaching and Teaching (Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1986), 294.