Worship Review 5.31.15 – How To Pray

Well yesterday was fun. Goofy and fun. Which, I don’t know about you, was a welcome change of pace for me. I’m glad we have family worship every couple of months. The kids are great.

I’m tempted to write about the deep, heady, theological underpinnings for why we have family worship, and why arranged “Happy Day” the way we did. But, I’d be lying. We have family worship because children matter to God, because Jesus has some stuff to say about children and worship, because the Psalms say stuff about joyful noises, and because why the heck not? And the reason we arranged “Happy Day” the way we did was truly, truly I tell you inspired by none other than Jimmy Fallon. The Bible is quiet on the use of kazoos in worship.

I hope you had fun as well!


(Photo Credit: Jay Juan)

This weekend we sang:

  • “Manifesto” by The City Harmonic
  • “Happy Day” by Tim Hughes
  • “Father, You are All We Need” by Citizens & Saints (New!)
  • “Forever Reign” by one sonic society

I’ve attached a playlist from Spotify but if you enjoyed these songs please consider purchasing them and supporting the artists who wrote them and recorded them so they’ll continue blessing the Church

Eugene Peterson writes in his delightful book on pastoring, “The Contemplative Pastor,” that the:

… primary educational task of [as] a pastor is [was] to teach people to pray.

This weekend’s service was less than subtly working towards the end of prayer. You’ll notice that “Manifesto” has the Lord’s Prayer as its bridge, in the children’s devotion we read a paraphrase of the Lord’s Prayer, and the new tune (“Father, You are All We Need”) is a retuning of… you guessed it, the Lord’s Prayer. We spent a significant amount of time at the end of the sermon praying at the altar.

Here it is in The Lord’s Prayer from the King James (because, let us appreciate the classical poetry of it):

After this manner therefore pray ye:
Our Father which art in Heaven, Hallowed be thy name
Thy will kingdom come, thy will be done, on Earth as it is in Heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.
And lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil: for thins is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen.
Matthew 6.9-13 KJV

Vocationally, thinking about prayer is a concentration of mine. Every week, as the music pastor, I’m putting words in people’s mouths. These words have the potential and high probability (because of the nature of music) to become the language people pray in. So, the words better be good. Not cheap, easy, shallow words but scripturally rich, gut-wrenchingly honest.

Then I write actual prayers for service so that I don’t sound like a goof (although, I often do) from stage. I script what I hope are spiritually authentic, theologically sound words that I speak in to a microphone with the hopes that God can hear me and maybe like me better.

Reading the story to the kids I was rocked at my core:

When the disciples ask Jesus to teach them to pray he gives them a simple formula that’s easy to understand:

Pray to God.
Give God glory.
Ask for what God wants.
Do what God wants.
Because God deserves it.

It’s first and foremost about and to God. And He alone deserves that honor. The prayer starts and ends with God’s glory. Everything else hinges on God, and our submission to His desires.

Because prayer isn’t about me. It’s not about how good I sound, if I say the right things, if I can get God’s attention. Prayer is about, to, and for God.

And when we forget that and get caught up in what we’re saying we can remember that the Apostle Paul says that the only person who mediates for us is Christ. It’s not on us to make God happy.

We don’t have to pray spectacularly because Jesus prays spectacularly for us.

So when Jesus shows us how to pray he does it because, as Sally Lloyd-Jones says:

…Jesus was showing people that God would always love them with a Never Stopping, Never Giving Up, Unbreaking, Always and Forever Love. So they didn’t need to hide anymore, or be afraid, or ashamed. They could stop running away from God, they could run to him instead. Like a little child runs to her daddy’s arms.

Prayer is not first and foremost a duty to perform is our never ending quest to please God. Because God is most pleased not with our performance but with Christ in us. Prayer is a pleasure predicated on the work of Christ not the work of Me.

God loves us better than we deserve or could imagine. We can confidently pray our mumbly words, our “umms…,” our “Lord just…’s,” our “Father God, we just want to Father God’s,” because God loves us so much he prays for us.

As we sang and read:

Let us have no fear and run to God knowing that as we stumble along the way he is picking us up.

Worship Review 5.31.15 – How To Pray