“Praise to the Lord, the Almighty, the King of creation! O my soul, praise Him, for He is thy health and salvation! Praise to the Lord, who o’er all things so wondrously reighneth, shelters thee under His wings, yea, so gently sustaineth! Praise to the Lord, O let all that is in me adore Him! All that Hath life and breath, come now with praises before Him.”
Recently the Hilltoppers study group began a new series of DVD studies on The Lord’s Prayer, by R. Albert Mohler Jr. With the first lesson Mohler focused on the prayer Jesus gave in response to His disciples request to be taught how to pray, recorded in both the gospels of Matthew and Luke.
Having had the privilege to watch the DVD a number of times in preparation for leading this study I was greatly challenged. It is so easy to think my prayer life is in order, I have it all figured out, and that I know “how” to pray in a way that God must certainly be pleased.
The truth is I was convicted that my prayer life is lacking. Mohler used the illustration of driving, particularly having become so comfortable with driving that at times we really don’t remember getting from point A to point B. The same is often true with prayer, finishing a time of prayer, but not remembering what I prayed. The question that came to my mind then was, “Is it better NOT to pray then not know what I prayed once finished?”
Another “prayer” situation I wrestled with was offering a quick prayer before a meal, and I mean a very quick, hasty prayer (I’m talking about when grabbing a quick bite by myself!). If I really think about it I often do this in an unthinking way, treating prayer as a sort of “lucky charm” while the content is certainly lacking. These were just a couple of the challenges I faced.
However, something that really struck a cord from the first DVD lesson was what Mohler quoted with regard to a philosopher and former atheist turned Christian by the name of Roger Scruton. According to Mohler, even before being converted Scruton grappled with the question, “How do you know what people really believe?”
Scruton said, “Watch them at worship. Listen to them sing. Listen to what they pray.” Since the study is about prayer Mohler’s focus was on the third detail, “Listen to what they pray.” He pointed out, “Prayer not only reveals what we believe about God, it also reveals the entire range of our theological beliefs.” In addition he said, “The Lord’s Prayer is short but theologically massive, because it includes the totality of the Christian faith.”
With this study the Hilltoppers look forward to considering the massive theology to be found in the articles of the Lord’s Prayer.
My purpose for this brief article goes beyond prayer though. Scruton’s three details got me to thinking about myself and our congregation, but specifically about myself. It’s easy to look away from ourselves to others and scrutinize “their” worship, “their” singing, and “their” prayers.
But what about me? Does my worship, including my preparation for and practice of, demonstrate that I understand the Lord, Almighty, King of creation, the only sovereign One Himself brings me into His presence by His Holy Spirit and meets me in His worship? Do the words I sing reflect the same along with His redemptive purpose and work in Jesus Christ?
Do my prayers reflect a true understanding of this triune God, who He is, who I am, my complete dependence upon Him, and a trust in the only Savior, Jesus Christ? Or do I treat God through my worship, singing, and prayers as One who depends on me, is available anytime I have time for Him, and is at my beck and call to do for me whatever I ask?
Sadly, sometimes that’s the case. But thankfully our God is the forgiving God, and sanctifying God through His Holy Spirit, all for the sake of His Son. Jesus’s disciples needed to be taught how to pray. So do we! As believers by the grace of God we are also students as long as this life shall last. That’s what a disciple is – a student.
Praise be to God for His holy Word. May we continue to be students of His Word, being conscious of the fact that our worship, singing and prayers reflect what He teaches and what we believe about Him. Therefore, may we desire to constantly be fed with and by His Word so that we might more faithfully reflect the truth of and about God through our worship, singing and prayers.
Through the acts of worship, singing and prayer let us “come with praises before Him.”