Course-Correcting Prayer

Daily Reflection / Produced by The High Calling
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Pray then in this way …

Matthew 6:

So far Jesus’ teaching on prayer has taken the form of a warning about two things, audience and length. Having told us how not to pray, now Jesus tells how to pray.

He begins with, Pray this way. Jesus did not intend for this to be the only way to pray but rather a pattern for prayer. It makes me think of my mother kneeling on the floor with scissors in her hand. We were a family of very modest means, and my mother looked for every way to make ends meet. One of her favorites was sewing clothes for our family. She collected boxes and boxes of patterns. She’d choose the material, lay out the pattern, pin the pattern to the cloth, and begin to cut. When Jesus says, “Pray this way,” he means for us to take his pattern for prayer, kneel down, lay it over the material of our life, and pray.

Notice how brief it is. You can pray it in less than a minute.

Notice how intense it is. But don’t let its brevity fool you. In his prayer, Jesus engages the six core concerns of life.

Because Jesus’ prayer is brief and also intense, it means you can sustain a deeply meaningful internal dialogue with God while on the run. While waiting for the toaster. While brushing your teeth. While fueling the car. While answering your email. While paying your bills. While hugging your family. Dale Bruner has given my favorite summary of Jesus’ pattern for prayer; he calls it The BIF Formula. Our prayers should be Brief, Intense, and Frequent—BIF.

I heard once of a study of all of the conversations between Mission Control and the Apollo space craft as it made its way to the moon. They wanted to know what kinds of things the astronauts talked about and what occupied their time while traveling to the moon. I was surprised to learn that the space craft was off course most of the time. When I asked a friend who worked with NASA on the Apollo moon project, he confirmed that it was true. He explained it this way, “To save fuel the lunar space craft glided most of the way to the moon. And as it glided, it would drift off course. So to keep the craft on track, at regular places along the way, they fired what were called retro-rockets—little booster rockets that guided the craft back on course.”

Jesus’ pattern for prayer is intended to work like that—to put our life back on course. So kneel down, lay Jesus’ prayer pattern over your life, pin it down, and begin to pray—briefly, intensely, and frequently.

QUESTIONS FOR FURTHER REFLECTION: Do your prayers follow any kind of pattern? Are they more random, driven by whatever is going on at the moment in your life? What value would there be in following a form or pattern in your prayers? What is it like for you to pray and do other thing at the same time?

PRAYER: Heavenly Father, let my prayers be brief but not rushed, intense but not blind, frequent but not trivial. Keep teaching me how to pray so that when the currents and tides carry me astray, my prayer life with you will bring me back to the life that really is life. Amen.


Dave Peterson is an ordained pastor who is the Director of Community Outreach for The Robert and Janice McNair Foundation and Scholarly Advisor for the H. E. Butt Family Foundation. He is the author of Receiving and Giving, Unleashing the Bless Challenge in Your Life. Dave and his wife, Terri, have four adult children and four grandchildren. Send a note to Dave.

Technology at Work

Will there be technology in heaven, or is technology simply for our use while we’re here on earth? What technology will we take to heaven? And what is technology, anyway? God placed humanity on the earth and gave us instructions to take care of it. Does that mean God had technology in mind right from the beginning? We are quick to judge technology and find it wanting, but what if technology can help us as we partner with God as co-creators and restorers on the earth? How would we steward technology differently if we thought it might actually have an impact on the kingdom of God? Our theme Technology at Work explores some of these questions and more.

Featured image by Don Christner. Used with Permission. Source via Flickr.