There have been many books written on the ‘Art of Praying.’ There have been millions of words spoken at seminars on the subject of ‘Improving your Prayer Life.’ In this technological age no doubt there are countless sites that one can log into and learn the ‘secrets of prayer.’ Along with these avenues there have been many biographies written in the same vein.
But do we need these ‘self-help’ books on prayer? Do we need to be enthused at seminars to pray more fervently and more effectively? How effective are these learning sessions? For me I have always been skeptical of such learning methods. To me I have been of the opinion that one learns prayer by bending ones knee and actually praying. Therefore praying, trusting the Lords saying, that the Holy Spirit will teach us the ‘how to.’
I have found that the prayers in the scriptures that have been uttered by the Kings, prophets and patriarchs more than sufficient to learn and be inspired. To me the Old Testament is a gold mine of truths among the historical accounts and poetry, as long as one has the mindset concerning the inspiration of the Old Testament, is equal to the New.
One aspect of the Old Testament prayer is the beauty of the language, as if there is a reverence, for it is the foundation undergirding the prayers approaches to God. The fear of the Lord is woven into the language of the Old Testament prayers that I believe is missing in our prayer language. All to often we rush into Gods throne room like a scolded cat with no thought of the awe and majesty of God. Even though Jesus introduced us to Yahweh as ‘Our Father’ we still need to remember and respect Gods dominion and Kingship status.
I cannot help but notice that often the Old Testament prayers begin with praise and worship extolling the nature and character of God. God is praised for his loving kindness and for his ability to protect, guide and keep the prayer safe and free from their enemies. I believe we can learn from this reverent approach. In fact Jesus suggested this beginning in the Lord’s Prayer. All to often I find myself blurting out my request as soon as I open my lips.
Spending some time in God’s presence pressing into and leaning on his chest is a time of blessing, peace and comfort. I am sure that God longs to spend time with us, yet we rush in and out as if we were at a grocery store. Spending time sitting at the feet of Yahweh in praise and wonder strengthens our relationship and cements our trust in him. Besides this, he can communicate with us.
‘Another aspect that I have noticed that is peculiar to the Old Testament prayers concerns the old testament saints appeal to the mercies of Yahweh to gain favour. In doing so they are extolling the goodness, loving kindness and long suffering of the Lord. This is good as such extolling focuses the mind onto God‘s favours and locks their hearts together. It also sets up an eye ball to eye ball relationship.
I believe we could learn from such recalling of the favours, goodness and abounding grace of God. Our difference, since we are on the other side of the cross is that our appeal to God is grounded in the cross. Meaning; we should spend time reminding and thanking God of his blessings which are Yes and Amen in Christ. Because of the cross we have been redeemed, saved, forgiven, healed, set free, sanctified, justified, made-right and translated out of darkness into his glorious light.
Spending time praising and thanking God our Father based on the finished work of the cross is like a sweet aroma ascending to God.
Yes there is much we can learn from the prayers of the Old Testament saints. Let’s do away with mans ‘prayer for dummies’ approach and return to the book written and inspired by the holy spirit which is useful for teaching, rebuking, correction and training in righteousness.