My last few blog posts were on the extraordinary prayer called for in these days. That turned my thoughts to the question of ordinary prayer. I don't think it is a wrong to answer this question by simply asking, "What are your ordinary prayers like?" Let me point out three elements that are common to ordinary prayer.
A HEART OF PRAYER
If we to Scripture and to the Lord's Prayer we find a great exposition of prayer and the life of prayer. Jesus assumed His followers would pray. Verse 5 of Matthew 6 Jesus began with the words, "when you pray." I suspect everyone prays or has prayed occasionally. Begin where you are. If you seldom pray, know that God is inviting you to pray now. If your prayers have been insincere, cynical and unbelieving, tell God you want to get serious. He will help you pray. You will never do better over any length of time by simply trying harder. But God can change your heart. Be honest enough to ask for His help.
A HEART OF PRAISE
The first words of the model prayer praise God. Nothing lifts the heart in faith like praising God. If you want to pray as we should in these days, you must focus on the greatness and power of Almighty God. We are in a spiritual war. In the hymn A MIGHTY FORTRESS IS OUR GOD Luther wrote, "For still our ancient foe doth seek to work us woe; His craft and power are great, and armed with cruel hate, on earth is not his equal." He will do anything to keep you from prayer. You must focus on the mighty power of God to keep from being discouraged by the world, the flesh and the devil.
A HEART OF PURPOSE
Jesus next called us to pray for His kingdom and for His will to be done. It is so easy to pray selfish and trivial prayers. But we can turn our prayers to God's purpose as He reveals it to us.
I believe the most exciting thing about these facets of ordinary prayer is that they all lead to more prayer. Prayer begets prayer. Ordinary prayer can lead to urgent prayer, sustained prayer, sacrificial prayer, extraordinary prayer, history changing prayer.