I promise I’m done writing stories about the floors in my house. There’s still a few square feet left to do in the kitchen, but I’m just puttin’ on my rose-colored glasses, adopting a glass half-full attitude, and considering it done.
BUT… (this’ll be quick)
…several months ago I had moved everything out of the still-untiled bedroom one Friday night, thinking my God-send of a Christian brother (who did all the hard stuff) would be able to come the next day and finish laying the tile in there.
Didn’t happen. So instead of moving the bed, et al. back in there, I grabbed an easy-to-move, comfortable chair and a small side table – along with my Bible and my Moody and MacArthur commentaries – and made myself a makeshift study nook slash War Room. (I loved that movie. I know the Kendrick brothers’ films aren’t Oscar contenders, but they’re well-done and tell compelling, Christ-centered stories. Works for me.)
It turned out to be a great spot to read and study my Bible in the evening, but was even more conducive to Prayer Time (capital “P,” capital “T”) in the morning. The bedroom sports an all-important ceiling fan kicking up a cool ruah (which is the Hebrew word for wind, breath, and spirit, all meaningful for PT); there was also nothing in there to serve as a distraction: no bed, no pillows, nothing on the walls, no dresser, (and no stuff on the dresser) – not even a floor. For someone with my sometimes sketchy attention span, it was the perfect location to devote time to being with the Lord.
Along about that same time, I needed to look up a quick fact in the first couple chapters of 1 Samuel and ended up reading on through it and 2 Samuel, which turned out to have a bit of an impact on my prayer life.
In 2 Samuel chapter 7, God sent word to David that He would give him a royal lineage that would reach through all eternity. (And, of course, He did, as Jesus was a descendant of David’s.) After hearing this, David prayed a beautiful, humble, heart-felt prayer of praise and thanksgiving to God.
But, being the guy who looks for the out-of-the-ordinary bits in the Bible and tries to find some sort of unique application, the part of that whole beautiful and moving prayer passage that caught my attention was the first – seemingly inconsequential – few words of verse 18, the pre-prayer part. It says:
Then King David went in and sat before the Lord… 2 Samuel 7:18 NIV
I don’t really know why that bit of text stuck with me. Maybe it’s because my knees are no longer up to kneeling when I pray – and if the “man after God’s own heart” can sit and pray then I can, too. Maybe it was because there was nothing else I could do in that bare room but sit before the Lord and do what David did – pray.
I love to pray and always think of prayer as one of my “things,” like a spiritual gift. But it doesn’t always come easy; sometimes it’s work getting past the songs that play incessantly in my head (at least most of them are Christian songs) or the to-do list of chores or work projects or bills to pay. Sometimes I just need a kick start, something to get me “off the blank page.” Maybe you’re the same way. The good news is, the Bible is filled with great model prayers, tried-and-true examples of communication with the Lord that have lasted the test of time that I can take inspiration from and put in my own words.
When I first became a Christian, I thought I had to pray like the men my pastor called on to pray during the church service when I was growing up. (“Brother Tommy, would you lead us in prayer?”) It was usually pretty formulaic and kind of generic. But I gradually learned to just talk to the Lord like I would talk to a close friend who knew everything there was to know about me and still loved me; someone I couldn’t – and wouldn’t even try to – fool by acting all prissy and pious in front of Him. (Which pretty much describes my relationship to the Lord to a “T”.)
So below are three of my favorite prayers from the Bible, prayers that often inspire and guide my Prayer Time. Although prayer is a very intimate, personal thing – at least it is for me – I’m going to be transparent and “pray out loud” a little, like I do when I sit before the Lord. Maybe you’ll take something away to help you get off the blank page.
Jabez: The Blessing-a-Holic
“Oh, that you would bless me and enlarge my territory! Let your hand be with me, and keep me from harm so that I will be free from pain.” 1 Chronicles 4:10 NIV
“Father, you’ve given me so much, I’m kind of embarrassed to continue to ask for your blessing. But you’ve made your provision so amazing that I’m addicted to it…so I guess I’m not really that embarrassed after all. (Of course you already knew that.) Help me not to want more than you want for me, though – just bless me as you see fit, no more or no less.
“Thank you for increased opportunities to serve you, for increased influence, for a chance to share what you’ve done for me by giving me something to say and a platform on which to say it.
“I’m almost afraid to pray this, but please do whatever it takes to keep me from veering off course. You know my weaknesses – my tendency toward pride and selfishness, toward laziness and procrastination, toward ranking you in some order besides first. Hone my sensitivity to the Holy Spirit so I can stay in lock-step with your will for my life.
“Help me to not be afraid – afraid to grow old, afraid to be alone, afraid of what lies ahead. You’ve given me good health and a bright mind and a small but mighty circle of loving brothers and sisters with which to make the journey. But if all that is gone tomorrow, help me to start at the top of this prayer and remember how amazing your provision is – and always will be…”
David: A Man After God’s Own Heart
“Who am I, O Sovereign LORD, that you have brought me this far? … What more can David say to you? For you know your servant, O Sovereign LORD … How great you are, O Sovereign LORD! There is no one like you, and there is no God but you…” 2 Samuel 7:18-22 NIV (excerpts)
“Lord, sometimes I don’t get it. (OK – often, I don’t get it.) Knowing what I was and what I had done (past tense – thank you, Lord), you still – to paraphrase one of David’s Psalms – lifted me up from the filth and the vile behavior I was sinking further and further into, spun me around 180°, and set my feet on a rock without batting an eye.
“I wish I could forget certain things in my past that made me the guy least likely to ever become a follower of Jesus. On the other hand, those bad memories certainly remind me just how amazing your grace and how incredible your mercy. No one else would have done that – no one else could have done that. I don’t even know what to say – ‘Thank you’ isn’t enough. Hopefully I will learn how to thank you in proportion to what you’ve done for me when I finally see you (soon, I hope) and will spend eternity doing so…”
Jesus: Our Intercessor
“Our Father who is in heaven, Hallowed be Your name. Your kingdom come. Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. 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.” Matthew 6:9-13 NASB
“‘Most gracious heavenly Father’… That’s how my mother starts every prayer I’ve ever heard her pray. (Thank you that she never stopped praying for me.) And you are gracious – but you’re so much more. You’re holy – and everything about you is governed by your holiness: your grace, your mercy, your love, your goodness – even your wrath, which we don’t like to talk about, but which is a necessary part of who you are. Thank you for who you are and what you’ve done.
“Thank you for saving my soul six years ago. I’m blessed beyond anything I could have ever imagined to be a part of your kingdom – and can’t wait to see it finally come to earth. (Soon, I hope. Did I already say that? Come quickly, Lord Jesus…) Help me to act like I’m a part of that kingdom right now – because I am, even though sometimes I feel far away (totally my fault). Help me to be the man you want me to be, to be part of the solution and not part of the problem, to find joy in everything you’ve given me to do.
“I have so much – food to eat, a job that suits my ability and disability, a car that gets me there cheaply and with no trouble, friends, family, a church home, a pastor who preaches the truth – it’s an embarrassment of riches. I’m so grateful, and so undeserving.
“Please remind me to be as gracious and forgiving to others as you were to me. (When I look back…ugh.) Please keep me from falling back into any of those traps. Sometimes they’re so obvious I cringe when I find myself falling for one. But sometimes they’re insidious, and I need your wisdom to see them coming.
“I love that I need you, that you’re all I want, that you’re worthy of every bit of glory that can possibly be afforded. People will let me down, work will let me down, church will let me down – but you will never (never) let me down. For the first ever, I have the best there is.
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That’s how I do it. It’s so freeing to get over worrying about saying the wrong thing, to just talk to the Lord from the heart. That’s how war rooms get to be war rooms.
Speaking of war rooms, we finally finished tiling the floors in the bedroom and transitioned it back into its original purpose. The chair and side table, along with my Bible and commentaries, took up residence in the whatchamacallit room with the piano and all the bookcases. The chair is no less comfortable, my study books are still right at hand, and it’s nice to have my bedroom back. But I do miss sitting before the Lord in the empty bedroom – just me, the ceiling fan, and spending time with a close friend who knows everything there is to know about me and who still loves me; someone I couldn’t – and wouldn’t even try to – fool by acting all prissy and pious in front of Him.
I know – He knows that same stuff about me and hears me no matter where I sit before Him, but still…
…some places just feel right, you know? Maybe I just need to build another room onto the house.
Even better, maybe I’ll just pray about it.
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