Would you like to freshen up your approach to prayer? I want to share something I have developed that has done just that. It’s a three-step prayer framework I’ve been experimenting with for the last two weeks. Those three steps are 1. Security, 2. Submission, 3. Supplication. We start this week with security. First, however, a point of clarification.

Point of clarification

Dangers exist regarding frameworks. What may start as a refreshing framework can descend into formulaic dryness. Frameworks exist in the Scriptures. Examples include the Lord’s prayer in Matthew 6.9-13, some of Paul’s prayers in his Epistles (1 Thessalonians 5.23-24), praying through Psalms, or that majestic hymn about Jesus (Philippians 2.6-11). All of these can be used as frameworks. But none of them should be seen as something to be repeated rote as if in the very act of repetition something spiritual magically happens. It is with that clarification in mind I offer this framework.

Security: Finding Strength in God’s Presence

Before delving into submission or supplication, it is essential to establish a sense of security in the presence of God. Jesus enjoyed deep security with his Father. Imagine how he felt on hearing these words,

“This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.” (Matthew 3:17 NIV11).

“Then a cloud appeared and covered them, and a voice came from the cloud: “This is my Son, whom I love. Listen to him!”” (Mark 9:7 NIV11)

Even in one of his darkest moments he was able to use the more intimate form of address — ‘abba’. ““Abba , Father,” he said, “everything is possible for you. Take this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will.”” (Mark 14:36 NIV11)

We are authorized — nay — encouraged to do the same, “The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.”” (Romans 8:15 NIV11)

“Because you are his sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, “Abba , Father.”” (Galatians 4:6 NIV11)

Jesus lived a life of submission to the Father because he experienced the loving acceptance of his Father. We will live healthier lives of discipleship when we connect with that same love in our times of quiet with God.

By the way, you might note that praise is missing from this framework. But, I have found that it is in this first step that praise most naturally occurs. How can I fail to praise my heavenly father as I reflect on my gratitude for being included in his family, his household, as among those destined to share his love not only now but forever? Praise naturally comes from my heart when I remember how much it cost him to adopt me as his child. One of the beauties of reflecting on my security with the father is that I gain renewed confidence and a refreshed feeling of gratitude.

Beginning with reflecting on my security in the Father enables the rest of my prayer to flow more naturally. As Richard Foster put it in his book Prayer, ‘Prayer is the human response to the perpetual outpouring of love by which God lays siege to every soul.’ Connecting with that love at the start will catalyst your prayer.

Next time we will go on to look at the topic of submission.

Please add your comments on this week’s topic. We learn best when we learn in community.

Do you have a question about teaching the Bible? Is it theological, technical, practical? Send me your questions or suggestions. Here’s the email: malcolm@malcolmcox.org.

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“Worship the LORD with gladness; come before him with joyful songs.” (Psalms 100:2 NIV11)

God bless, Malcolm