Once Jesus was in a certain place praying. As he finished, one of his disciples came to him and said, “Lord, teach us to pray, just as John taught his disciples.” [Luke 11:1 (NLT)]
Our Colorado church gives homemade cookies to first-time visitors and we received delicious blonde brownies on our first visit. They were so good, in fact, that I searched through recipe books and websites to find a recipe having the dried cranberries, white chocolate chips and pecans we enjoyed. I found several possibilities but nothing that was quite right so, using those recipes as a guideline, I made up my own recipe.
When the disciples asked Jesus to teach them how to pray, He recited what we call “The Lord’s Prayer.” It’s important to remember that the disciples asked how to pray but not what exact words to use. Being a good teacher, instead of a lecture on devotions, Jesus gave them a model prayer, but certainly not the only prayer to be said. My recipe search told me I needed flour, baking powder, brown sugar, butter and eggs for blonde brownies. For a good prayer, the Gospel tells me I need elements like praise, thanks, intercession, forgiveness, acceptance of God’s plan, confession, petition and a plea for guidance.
Using Jesus’ prayer ingredients, some days I give God an extra cupful of thanks and praise. Actually, one can never overdo those ingredients. It’s often easy to skip the confession and forgiving ingredients but, like forgetting the baking powder in brownies, prayers just don’t seem to come out right without them. While it’s possible to add too much salt or cinnamon to a brownie recipe, one’s prayers just get better and better when praying for the needs of others. God, however, probably won’t find our prayers very appetizing if we spend more time mixing in petitions for ourselves than for others! Unlike a brownie recipe, there is no set amount of time for baking the perfect prayer; that’s a judgment call. As for me, I often find it necessary to bake my prayers a long time before acceptance of His plan forms in my heart.
If you’re bored with the food you’ve been preparing, change it up. Create new recipes or tweak those old ones into something new and exciting. If your prayer life is boring, change it up as well. Gather the ingredients and present them to God in a different way. Just as one can bake, broil, grill, deep fry, braise, sauté or boil to prepare food, there is no single method when talking with God.