New City Catechism – Week 40

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Personal/Family
Worship Guide
“How Deep the Father’s Love for Us”
(Hymn #80 in Hymns of Grace)
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Q40: What should we pray?

A40: The whole Word of God directs and inspires us in what we should pray, including the prayer Jesus himself taught us.

When we first read the question as written, we would be tempted to start listing all the kinds of prayers, supplications, and examples of prayer provided in the scripture. We would want to go immediately to the Lord’s Prayer, and look at each part.

But the question is intended to be even more basic than that. (We will look at the Lord’s Prayer next week.) The question, “what should we pray” is asking, what is it that should regulate, inform, direct and inspire how we pray.  The Word of God should direct us.

If prayer is simply asking God for whatever we desire, our prayers could be so selfishly motivated or even sinfully motivated that God would not hear us. (James 4:3) The content of such prayers, the attitude, and motives could be completely contrary to God’s design.

Instead, we look to God’s revelation to us, the Bible, to understand the one to whom we’re praying, how He ought to be addressed, what requests He encourages, and to understand His will. We let God by His Word conform even our praying to His understanding and not our own.  (Proverbs 3:5-6)

Praying in this way does not remove the humanity of our prayers, nor turn them into a vain repetition. Our prayers will still flow freely from our hearts. They will, however, hew to the scripture and be more likely to conform us to Him in the process of praying.

-Pastor Jay

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