At the end of Chapter 6 of Prayer, Timothy Keller shares one final exercise Martin Luther advocates before we pray free-form about the things on our hearts. Following meditation on Scripture, Luther suggests praying through each petition of the Lord’s Prayer. As we do so, we are to paraphrase and personalize each petition using our own needs and concerns.
Pastor Keller then describes three specific values in paraphrasing and personalizing the Lord’s Prayer:
1. Praying the Lord’s Prayer commands our full mental faculty. Ordinary prayer is either completely ex tempore or based on a list of our prayer needs. Often ordinary prayer is not capable of completely drawing our mind’s attention away from the thoughts that previously occupied our mind. We are distracted.
2. Praying the Great Prayer forces us to use all the full language and basic forms of prayer. Pastor Keller summarizes:
“Praying the Lord’s Prayer forces us to look for things to thank and praise God for in our dark times, and it presses us to repent and seek forgiveness during times of prosperity and success. It disciplines us to bring every part of our lives to God.”
3. Praying the Lord’s Prayer is actual prayer. Meditation on a passage of Scripture is not actual prayer. In the Lord’s Prayer we address God with the authority of Jesus’ own words.
Luther has one final piece of advice. If the Holy Spirit begins “preaching” to us as we meditate and pray, we must drop our routines and pay close attention.
Today’s question: How can Luther’s guidelines on meditation and prayer bolster your prayer life? Please share.
Tomorrow’s blog: “The fear of God”