So, I have been listening to past sermons given by Andy Stanley at NorthPoint. One of the sermon series that I finished - I actually found originally as a podcast - was about prayer and how to pray. You really need to listen to the messages to get a blow by blow account, but listed below is what I learned.
The passage that Andy used is listed below:
6"But you, when you pray, go into your inner room, close your door and pray to your Father who is in secret, and your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you.
7"And when you are praying, do not use meaningless repetition as the Gentiles do, for they suppose that they will be heard for their many words.
8"So do not be like them; for your Father knows what you need before you ask Him.
9"Pray, then, in this way:
'Our Father who is in heaven,
Hallowed be Your name.
10'Your kingdom come
Your will be done,
On earth as it is in heaven.
11'Give us this day our daily bread.
12'And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.
13'And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from evil. [For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.]'
14"For if you forgive others for their transgressions, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.
15"But if you do not forgive others, then your Father will not forgive your transgressions.
1) Stanley begins before the Lord's prayer, leading up to it. Jesus tells us where to pray in verse 6. Jesus wants us to pray in private. That our reward will be a closer relationship with Him instead of the praises of men.
2) Jesus did teach us how to pray using the Lord's prayer. It is an example of what and how to pray. Stanley stresses that most of us never are taught how to pray and it really isn't about how beautiful you sound, but the relationship that you are building with God. He wants and desires us to spend time with him. The more time you spent with God-->the more confident you are to be with Him.
3) So, what should we do when we pray. Stanley breaks the Lord's prayer into 3 parts.
-Declare His Greatness (verse 9) Tell God how amazing He is - read a psalm out loud.
-Surrender your Will (verse 10). Stanley spent a lot of time on this. This is the part that we (read I) want to skip. He referenced a couple of places where Jesus set an example of this. As important as it is, when Jesus prayed for Lazarus to be raised from the dead, God knew (verse 8) what the request was going to be before Jesus asked. This was not an intense prayer. Simply, "Lazarus, come forth". Yet, when Jesus was in the Garden of Gethsemane, struggling with his will versus his Father's will, this took all night. This was a prayer of internal struggle to do what was required of Jesus not matter the cost. These are the kind of prayers that God wants us to be praying about - transforming type prayers, not just about parking spaces and healing aunt Martha (even though we should pray those kind of prayers also).
-Acknowledge your dependence (verse 11). Be thankful for all that God has given you. Remember that God gives and takes away - He is the one ultimately in control of all we have as well as whether we live or die.
4) The last topic about prayer that Stanley mentions is about being persistent. Stanley explains this by using the following parable of Jesus
5Then He said to them, "Suppose one of you has a friend, and goes to him at midnight and says to him, 'Friend, lend me three loaves;
6for a friend of mine has come to me from a journey, and I have nothing to set before him';
7and from inside he answers and says, 'Do not bother me; the door has already been shut and my children and I are in bed; I cannot get up and give you anything.'
8"I tell you, even though he will not get up and give him anything because he is his friend, yet because of his persistence he will get up and give him as much as he needs.
9"So I say to you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.
10"For everyone who asks, receives; and he who seeks, finds; and to him who knocks, it will be opened.
Stanley describes the context as sleeping in tents and having to wake everyone to get up and get the bread. It isn't that God does not want to give us what we need, it all comes back to the process. Sometimes, many time, God will answer persistent and diligent prayer. Not because of us the prayer, but because He is God. In the process of "asking, seeking and knocking", God will often times change our prayers and change us.
So I want to encourage you to spend some time praying with God, not just a way of getting what you want, but to build that relationship that we so desperately need.