Prayer is something that is meant to progress as one walks with God, and as one beholds more and more of the knowledge of the Almighty. There is a great difference between those who pray very little and for a short time, and for those who pray much and for a long time, for those who’ve gotten more out of it tend to be people who know much of God and what He can do.
There are several prayer warriors that I have known in my life that spend their darkest hour in the deepest places of prayer, knowing full well that is the source of strength for a believer. Scriptures all throughout the Bible encourage us to life our voices to God in prayer and in desperation, and that is a wonderful things about our God.
However, we forget the importance of needing theology in our prayer. How often does the common Christian fail to mention God’s attributes, nature, and mystery in prayer? Often times, we as Christians forget that theology is a key component of prayer. I am a victim to this mentality as well. I was taught that your theology didn’t matter when you prayed, and that all that counted was your honesty. While it is true that God wants honesty and He wants your heart to be completely dedicated to Him (especially during prayer), we must understand that God is completely different from us. Be honest, but we must be reverent.
Lately, Evangelicalism (due to the extreme tolerance of the ideas of the Charismatic movement) has popularized the idea that when we pray, it’s really a conversation with God. Apparently, I am supposed to pray to the Sovereign who created all things, sustained all things, and foreknew all things…as if I am talking to my buddies? I don’t think so.
What has also interested me as well is the modern disdain for using “thee” and “thou” in prayer and worship. Though I too thought at one time it was silly to pray like that, I realized why people prayed that way. Unlike what pop culture would have you believe, it wasn’t because speaking in the second person was part of the vernacular language, but it was because it was reverent. When someone address a person as “Thy excellency”, what they are doing is recognizing their stature and headship. Though people who use “Thee” and “Thou” (like myself) are accused of being legalists, sometimes I feel that the ones who stress unreverent, conversational, and relatable prayers to be more legalistic, for they laugh at those who pray in their own way.
In the same way, people in the past have addressed God, even with a different common language, with the words “Thee”, “Thou”, and “Thy”. While it may seem humorous to the faint hearted, I find it very beautiful and ultimately convicting. Just the very language that people used for prayer was different because they understood that God was not a “homeboy” or your “bro”…He is God. He is Creator, Savior, Redeemer, and Lord. We can’t talk to God like we talk to our friends, our family, our spouse, etc. God is completely different from anything we could ever imagine, and our minds can’t fathom His excellence, holiness, and majesty.
At one time, Jesus was asked to teach the disciples to pray in a worthy manner. Jesus could’ve said anything at that point, and it would have great authority since He is the Son of God. However, Jesus’ instructions were laid out in Matthew 6:9-10 (ESV): “Pray then like this: ‘Our Father in heaven, hallowed be Your name. Your kingdom come, Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.” I also love the way the Geneva Bible (GNV) puts it: “After this manner therefore pray ye, Our Father which art in heaven, hallowed be Thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done even in earth as in heaven.” Notice that Jesus tells us to always keep God first in our prayers, and to recognize who He is. We are to remember the greatness of God in our prayers and to lift His name up high.
The richness of our worship is dependent on how we understand God to be. I am not saying that we are to enforce the use of “Thee” and “Thou” in our prayers, for I know of many amazing Christians that don’t use that kind of language, but their understanding of God is amazing. Praying in the second or third person is not the issue of poor prayer, but the lack of appreciation for who God is. I am saying that we should simply do as Jesus commanded us in Matthew 6:7 (ESV), “And when you pray, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do, for they think that they will be heard for their many words.” There is a reason for my appreciation for devotionals such as Valley of Vision, for the prayers in their acknowledge the lowliness of man, and the greatness of God.
This morning, I began my day with Valley of Vision‘s Second Day: Morning Prayer and in it said these words, “Oh God all-sufficient, Thou hast made and upholdest all things by the Word of Thy power…Thou unchangeable and incorruptible, art forever and ever, God over all, blest eternally.” What beautiful words that reflect on God’s excellence and magnificence. This prayer moved me this morning to ask God in my own words to bless me in this regard, and to bless others as well, so that people would see how we need to address Him. Our theology and prayer must go together in order that we would be able to have a deeper bond with Him.
We must remember the very words and advice of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ: He is our Father, but He is also our Father who is in heaven.
Soli Deo Gloria.