Yesterday I found myself holding my breath while pleading with the Lord for all kinds of favors having to do with a little white golf ball. My son was in a golf tournament in Atlanta, GA, and of course, as his mom, I want to see him succeed in the sport he loves. “Please Lord, help the ball go in the hole, please!” Hmm… are these kinds of prayers okay to pray? (And others like it: “God, please help my daughter make the soccer team”, or, “God, please help my son to pass this test,” or “God, please help my child to….”)
I think these prayers concerning the present moment are fine to say, as long as we are willing to accept God’s perfect answer. Ultimately, these sentence prayers need the underlying foundation of, “Not my will, but Your will be done” (Luke 22:42). When I get too caught up in the fleeting moment of golf or other life issues that come my way, I have to make a conscious decision to follow a deeper kind of praying, the kind of praying that accomplishes much more than the immediate desire at hand…
One of Jesus’ disciples asked, “Lord, teach us to pray” (Luke 11:1). And then Jesus delivers to the twelve what is commonly known to us as the Lord’s Prayer. He teaches these lines to them, and now to us, so we can pray rich, meaningful, rewarding prayers to our Father who is in heaven.
For example, pick someone that is on your heart right now and pray for them. In my case, instead of the quick “golfing pleas” I was praying yesterday, I made a decision to pray for Davis’ heart as he played his round (and then included my other children too!). The first line of the Lord’s Prayer talks about praising God’s name. So, I will choose one name, Almighty One, full of power, and begin praying using the Lord’s prayer as a guideline:
Our Father who art in Heaven, hallowed be your name:
Dear God, I praise Your name; You are the Almighty One….
Your kingdom come, Your will be done:
I pray that You will come into Davis’ heart and reaveal Yourself to him; may he know this very moment that You are all powerful and… nothing is too dificult for You…(Jer. 32:17).
Give us this day our daily bread:
Please give Your words of life to him today, right now… speak to him truths such as this: “Power and might are in Your hand and no one can withstand You” (II Chron. 20:6).
Forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors:
I ask You to forgive him when he doubts You as the Almighty One, when He thinks You don’t care, and when he tries to fix things in his own strength…
Lead us not into tempatation, but deliver us from evil:
Draw Davis away from this unbelief, and keep his enemy far from him; for the deceiver does not want Davis to know that he… can do all things through Christ who gives him strength (Phil. 4:13).
For Yours is the kingdom, power, and glory;
And as You answer these prayers in Your time and in Your way, may You be glorified in and through Davis who trusts You as His Savior. Amen.
The beautiful thing about this guideline is that you can go back and pray it all over again by picking another name of God to “hallow.” Prayer starts with praising His name: Shepherd, Provider, Protector, Creator, King…on and on. This kind of praying is effectual, fervant praying that God says avails much (James 5:16).
So yes, this mother’s heart wants Davis’ golf ball to sink into that little hole with pars and birdies all over that scorecard; but ultimately, I want more than that for my son. So when I wrestle (again and again) with these temporary shotgun prayers, I will ask the Lord (again and again) to say to my heart, “Pray like this…” (Luke11:2).