There was a great television show on from 2006-07 called Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip. It only lasted one season, but it’s a tremendously written show by the quick and snarky Aaron Sorkin.
Religion and faith are recurring themes throughout the series as the main characters wrestle with relationships, joy, loss, and tragedy. Check out this clip where one of the characters (a caricatured evangelical) tries to teach her (agnostic/atheist) boss to pray in the midst of a crisis.
There are a lot of things to pray for in our world but no singular understanding of what prayer is, how you pray, or what you even mean when you say you’ll “be praying” for someone.
Christians don’t have the market cornered on prayer and there is much that can be learned by asking a friend from a different faith tradition about their prayer life.
But Christians should pray and should pray with the expectation that “the prayer of the righteous person is powerful in what it can achieve” (James 5:16, CEB).
So Christians should pray but many who do pray and find it less than powerful and often achieving little.
I was taught as a little kid to pray using acronyms.
PRAY (Praise – Repent – Ask for others – Ask for Yourself)
ACTS (Adoration – Confession – Thanksgiving – Supplication).
I don’t really like these acronyms, and I’m not sure why they were the models that I was taught to pray with. They’re not bad or wrong, but they didn’t build a prayer rhythm into my life that I would call powerful and effective.
“One day Jesus was praying in a certain place. When he finished, one of his disciples said to him, “Lord, teach us to pray, just as John taught his disciples.” Luke 11:1
These disciples followed Jesus around and they saw Jesus pray. And they saw good, life-changing things happen because of it.
And they wanted to pray like that too.
I usually have my long lists of things to pray for and I am not great at faithfully praying through that list. Sometimes I revert back to my acronym prayers – filling up lists and columns and categories but not seeing much come from it. Looking back on an inconsistent prayer life, I only see inconsistent results. So I’d like to learn how to pray and Jesus seems like a good place to start.
Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name
your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven
Give us today our daily bread
And forgive us our debts as we also have forgiven our debtors.
And lead us not into temptation
but deliver us from the evil one.
Shouldn’t this be our go-to model for how we pray? If you’re going to start anywhere, start here.