Journal John 17 (all references are from the ESV; changes in punctuation are mine)
Scripture: When Jesus had spoken these words, he lifted up his eyes to heaven, and said: “Father, the hour has come; glorify your Son that the Son may glorify you, since you have given him authority over all flesh, to give eternal life to all whom you have given him.
And this is eternal life: that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.” John 17:1-3
Observation: What consumed Jesus’ heart to pray for? From this reference, that the Father may be glorified. If Jesus began prayer with this, I should as well, right?
Analysis: I often begin prayer with a perfunctory “Thank you, Jesus.”
Other folks go, “Dear Heavenly Father…” or something similar. My point is that my prayer can fall into a sing song, repetitive, void of meaning, rote.
Not that the prayer isn’t heartfelt and sincere, but on some level that I readily acknowledge in my heart, it isn’t heartfelt or sincere. It is perfunctory (like table Grace) or insincere—just praying because prayer is the right thing to do.
That isn’t right. That needs to change in me. But, how?
How do you get to Carnegie Hall? Practice, practice, practice.
In the case of practicing how to pray, I have found that using Psalms to practice with is totally invaluable.
Another practice of value: Praying the declaration of the Gospel: Start with the Trinity from before Time and walk through it, using it to declare the Glory and Mercies of God.
A good biblically based resource that isn’t the Bible is the book “Valley of Vision.” Reading how Puritans pray concerning various subjects is so very interesting and convicting.
In any case, learning to pray effectively is hard—not just difficult, but hard. I guess that falls into the principle of praying unceasingly (1 Thes 5:17).
I have found that putting my nose to the grindstone on this (and a few other principles of effective and actionable discipleship) bears a ton of fruit.
Hammer point: Copy Jesus. Imitate men of God and leaders of the faith that have come before. Bear fruit. Read old dead guys and some of the still living more.
Prayer: Thank you, Jesus. Hah, what a kidder I am. Lord, I thank you that you are broadening my prayers. At the same time I confess that I am struggling with laziness in prayer. It is time to get back in the saddle. To your glory, Lord, AMEN