FRIDAY, MARCH 20, 2015
Pattern prayer? Or pattern for prayer?
Pete Greig describes himself as one of the bewildered founders of 24-7 Prayer, an international, interdenominational movement of prayer, mission and justice which has impacted more than two million people through 12,000 prayer rooms in 123 nations praying non-stop, night-and-day since 1999.
Matthew 6:9 NIV
This, then, is how you should pray (Pray then like this – ESV).
Is the ‘kingdom prayer’ which Jesus passed down to us, His present-day disciples, a pattern prayer, or a pattern for prayer?
Jesus’ opening in Luke “When you pray, say…” shows that He intended the prayer to be used as it stands. I have talked about this quite a bit in earlier posts.
However Matthew introduces the Lord’s Prayer with Jesus saying: “Pray then like this“. “Like this” makes it also a model on which to base other expressions of prayer.
Use as liturgy or as headings
Are you used to prayer which is liturgical and therefore written down? You will be most comfortable with the Lord’s Prayer expressed that way, and you will find it prominently in every prayer or service book of every denomination that has one.
Are you more comfortable with prayer that is freely expressed, where you and others pray in your own words? No doubt at times you will recite the familiar words,as we all do, using this as a very good anchor point. You also have the familiar words to use as headings for your own, more extended prayer.
These days we have moved on from thinking one pattern is more ‘right’ than another. We are in a mix-and-match culture where young people, especially, take what is full-on contemporary and juxtapose it with historic expressions and traditional practices. Nowhere is that more evident than in the ‘boiler rooms’ and pop-up 24-7 prayer rooms of the past 15 years, where people across the spectrum of Christian belief and expression simply come… and pray… and make a difference.
The 24-7 Prayer Movement which Pete Greig and a few friends started almost by accident in 1999 is drawing in huge numbers of diverse people who take boiler room shifts during the day or night, weekday or weekend, to pray for God’s purposes to be fulfilled.
What do you pray for your hour?
After signing up for a vacant 3am slot in a moment that seemed like rashness, you’re entering the prayer room in the quiet of night. What do you pray? There will be plenty of visual stimulation and flipchart scrawls and pictures of what others have prayed, and sensed God saying. However, an hour (and it could be longer) is quite a space to fill. When there is so much freedom of expression, it is really helpful to have some light structure and a sense of balance between praise and petition, repentance and declaration, adoration and spiritual warfare, and that is exactly what Jesus has given us.
The same applies to the prayer days and prayer half-nights and prayer concerts found a place on the calendar long before 24-7 became fashionable.
To keep to my length today, I’ll do a separate post on what the actual outline might look like – one that you can pick up and use.
CHECK IT OUT
- Whichever way you are more comfortable – liturgical prayer or extempore prayer – when will you take opportunity to use the Lord’s Prayer in the opposite way?
- What, for you, has been the challenge of this week’s posts on using the Lord’s Prayer?