Who are we Praying to?
‘The highest science, the loftiest speculation, the mightiest philosophy, which can ever engage the attention of a child of God, is the name, the nature, the person, the work, the doings, and the existence of the great God whom he calls his Father.’ (C.H. Spurgeon)
On Sunday we began a new sermon series, The Lord’s Prayers. Over the next eight weeks we’ll look at Jesus’ prayer life – both what he prayed and how he prayed – so we can learn to pray like him. And each week, we’ll suggest some practical exercises you might like to try, which will help you explore new approaches to prayer.
This week Jo began by looking at the opening words of Jesus’ prayer: ‘Our Father…’ The way we view God and our relationship with Him changes everything about how we pray. Knowing that He is our home, that we’re alive in Him and loved by Him means we’ll approach God with intimacy and trust.
Praying by Yourself
Here are a few suggestions for how you can reflect on the nature of God in your personal prayers this week:
The Names of God
The Bible contains various names of God, which reveal what He’s like. Why not take one name a day, reading a passage, and using it to help you pray. Try thanking God for all the ways you’ve experienced Him living up to that name. And if there are areas of your life where you’re struggling, ask God to reveal Himself as His name promises. It may help you to follow a plan like this:
- Monday: Jehovah-Rohi – “The Lord my Shepherd” (Psalm 23). How does God lead you like a shepherd? How does He protect you and feed you?
- Tuesday: Jehovah-Shalom – “The Lord is Peace” (Judges 6:24). How does knowing God give you peace in the face of challenges?
- Wednesday: Jehovah-Tsidkenu – “The Lord is my Righteousness” (Jeremiah 23:6). What does it mean for God to be righteous? How is He the source of your righteousness?
- Thursday: Jehovah-Mekoddishkem – “The Lord is my Sanctifier” (Exodus 31:13). To sanctify means ‘to make holy’ and ‘to set apart for a purpose’. How does God do this for you?
- Friday: Jehovah-Nissi – “The Lord my Banner” (Genesis 17:15). How is God like a banner that you can run to in the midst of a battle?
- Saturday: Jehovah-Jireh – “The Lord will Provide” (Genesis 22:14). How does God provide for you? What does God provide for you? How can you trust Him, when He asks you to make sacrifices for Him?
- Sunday: Jehovah-Sabaoth – “The Lord of Hosts” (1 Samuel 17:45). What does it mean for God to be ‘Almighty’ and to command heavenly armies? How does that encourage you?
The Character of God
Another approach is to pray about God’s character. Why not reflect on God’s attributes and use them in prayer. Read some passages that describe His character and ask yourself:
- Why is it important that God is like this? What would it be like if He were not?
- How have I experienced God to be like this in my life?
Then pray, thanking God for all the ways you have experienced Him embodying these attributes. Here are some examples. God is:
- Love (1 John 4:7-11; Psalm 136; Romans 8:37-39; Zephaniah 3:17; Psalm 86:15)
- Eternal (Psalm 90:2-4; Job 36:26; Isaiah 46:9-10; Acts 17:30-31; Galatians 4:4-5)
- Holy (Isaiah 6:3; Exodus 15:11; 1 Samuel 2:2; Psalm 86:8-10)
- Independent (Acts 17:24-26; Job 41:11; Psalm 50:10-12; Ephesians 1:11-12)
- Unchanging (Psalm 102:25-27; Isaiah 46:9-11; Malachi 3:6; James 1:17)
- Faithful (Deuteronomy 7:9; Psalm 36:5; Lamentations 3:22-23; 1 Corinthians 10:13)
If you want some resources you help you reflect on what God’s like, you may like to listen to talks from our God series. Andrew Wilson’s Incomparable and D.A. Carson’s The God Who is There are also great books to help you think about God’s nature and character.
Praying with Others
You may find it helpful to use some of the verses above to help you pray with others in your Connect Groups, with housemates, or with other Christians in your workplace.
Perhaps write out some of the names or attributes of God and brainstorm what comes to mind when you think about them. Then take time to thank God for them. Or share stories about how you’ve experienced different aspects of God’s character. Often when we hear other people’s stories it encourages us and fills us with faith.
Read Galatians 5:16-26. The fruit of the Spirit is a list of attributes that are true of God, but also become true of us as we grow in relationship with Him. Identify one fruit that you could do with growing in, and ask people to pray for you. Pray that you would grow to be more like God, and that you’d have opportunities this week to demonstrate that fruit.
Praying with Children
This term in ChristChurch London Kids, the children will be looking at the Lord’s Prayer. You may want to pray the prayer with them and help them memorise it. There’s a really great version in the Jesus Storybook Bible, and you can watch it on video here.
This week, try to show your children that God always loves us talking to Him – wherever we are. You could try praying at lots of different times or places. Maybe play a game, challenging your child to find the most fun place to pray. Or the tallest place to pray. Or the darkest place to pray. Or the noisiest place to pray.
If your children are new to praying, why not start very simply with the first line of the Lord’s Prayer: “Hello Daddy!” If appropriate, you could list all the most fun things that children love about parents, and talk with your child about how God does all those things, even better than we could!