Wednesday, November 11, 2020

Three Stooges Prayer Lines


The Big Idea: Use Bible verses to coach others how to pray.

Using God's Word to Learn to Pray Outloud

As a Christian parent there is a certain responsibility to teach your children how to pray. Praying out loud is a skill that takes practice.

As a rookie Christian worker headed to West Africa learning to speak French, one of the hardest things was learning to pray out loud. It was a bit tricky. You close your eyes but you can't see other people's reactions to what you say if you misstep with an odd word. Additionally it is not reciprocal where you start a conversation and others interact like normal conversation would be. Instead it feels a bit like making a speech.

I recall sweaty palms when I launched into a prayer for the first time at a prayer meeting in France. It was a pretty short prayer. However, praying out loud is not just for God's sake. It is for those around you too. It may be on their behalf asking God for healing or help with a difficult situation. It blesses people. Additionally it allows them to agree with you in prayer before God. Matthew 18:20 says "For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.”

Three Stooges Prayer Lines

We have a young adult son who has High-functioning Autism. He talks. He drives. He is, in fact, very smart. However, Autistic folks often have difficulty finding words useful for conversation. These skills need to be honed and coached. Some with Autism find it much easier to talk using lines from a movie or TV shows they like. Our son loves Three Stooges lines.

But Three Stooges lines in prayer only go so far, especially in church. As our son became a young adult about fifteen years ago, it dawned on me that he is not at all comfortable praying out loud. I could let it go, but he has such a tender heart towards God and is involved in the church, it seemed beneficial that he get comfortable praying out loud.

He agreed for me to coach him on this. Over a summer, we decided we would pray together using the Bible. We knelt down at the sofa in the living room daily. I would pre-decide a passage, often in the Psalms designating about six verses, and prop it up on the sofa. One would read a verse out loud then pray using the prompts in the verse as a guide. Then the next one would take a turn doing the same thing. Here is an example from the first couple verses of Psalm 34.

I will extol the Lord at all times;
    his praise will always be on my lips.


"Dear Lord, we love you and we praise you because you are amazing. Help us never to give up on prayer but to keep prayer always on our minds."

I will glory in the Lord;
    let the afflicted hear and rejoice.


"God, help us to always give glory to you. Help us to remember to pray for those who are sick, and encourage them, God. Help our friend ____ who is sick right now and heal him quickly."

Glorify the Lord with me;
    let us exalt his name together.


"God, thank you that the two of us can pray together to you whenever we want to. Help us always praise you."


I sought the Lord, and he answered me;
    he delivered me from all my fears.


"Dear Lord, thank you for always hearing our prayers. Remind us to always come to you with our problems.  And thank you for helping us with our fears, God. Please help me today with ____ that worries me a lot."


A Prayer Handle


So you can see from eavesdropping into our prayer conversation with God how easy it is. The prayers do not need to be long. I love it that God's Word gives us fresh ideas for prayer.


It is useful to pray through the Psalms, or the Epistles. These devotional types of writing are more conducive to prayer than narratives such as Genesis or Matthew, or genealogy lists or the Law such as Leviticus.


Our son Bob has become very comfortable praying out loud. When we ask him to pray with the family he usually prefaces it with, "What should I pray for today?"


It gives him a handle. He then prays simple but beautiful prayers for the need. He attends a prayer group at our church for the Persecuted Church. A couple years ago a man who attends that group told me about his participation. "Your son Bob has the most wonderful prayers. They are so meaningful and sincere. I love to hear him pray. He should teach a class on prayer sometime."


When I say our prayers out loud bless those around us, this, to me, is a good example.


This method of prayer training is not limited to praying out loud in a group. You can use Bible passages to coach yourself how to pray on your own too. Try it sometime.

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