Prayer 099

Preparing for Prayer 101

Prayer 101 – Part 2

As we discussed in the previous message, Introduction to Prayer 101, we’re making it our priority to be taught. This is step one to going to a new level. It means we’ve admitted that we don’t know enough. It says that I’m willing and voluntarily setting myself up to grow. I’m setting myself up to get better. Did you know that you can get better at prayer? It also means that if I desire to master “Prayer 101,” I need a clear understanding of what that means as well as yield to the fact that I’m not at the next level yet and that I can always go to a next level.

The Question: What would it mean if you were told that you didn’t place in “Prayer 101” but you needed to first complete “Prayer 099”?

First, you’d need an understanding of what was in “Prayer 101” so that you’d understand why you didn’t make the required score on the placement exams. This is where we might get a little shocked or have a sobering thought about ourselves. If you didn’t place well enough to be in “Prayer 101” and you consider yourself a skilled pray-er, what are you missing?

If you’ve been to college, you understand what it’s like to take a placement test and for many what it’s like not to place in a class higher than you expected. It’s like taking the written driver’s license exam and not passing. You expected to pass, but you missed some information that held you back. It didn’t mean you could drive or didn’t know you could drive, but rather you didn’t know enough on the subject matter to pass the written exam. What if there was some information about prayer that’s holding your back from better prayer results or a better relationship with God? What if you expected one thing and you didn’t receive the placement you’d hoped for? That’s what this material is all about. We want to help you get prepared to place in “Prayer 101”, so we must go back and review the Prayer 099 material, otherwise known as the baseline.

As we continue, let me give you some good news. The beauty in all of this, is you at least know what you’ve been doing and can thus define what “Prayer 099” consists of. Allow me to explain.

What might we find in a beginner’s prayer, “Prayer 099”?
The bullets that follow are what I call common activities of an 099 pray-er and will serve to help identify activities that we confuse as prayer. Let me jump right into it so that you get a better understanding of what I mean. Keep in mind , if you do any of what you’re about to read, it’s 099 level prayer and it’s okay. Remember, we’ve not done anything wrong by being an 099 pray-er; it’s just our starting point for going to the next level. This is next-level prayer.

Reciting a memorized prayer is the most common of prayers or prayer styles. If you recite your prayer or any prayer, this is an 099 level prayer. There are several ways in which we recite prayers, I will name the two most popular ways to make this point.

  1. I recite God’s word.
    This is also known as praying God’s word back to Him.

    When I first learned to pray [if I can call that prayer], I was instructed to take my Bible into my prayer closet [whatever that is, more on that later] and use my Bible. So, I’d sit there and read it and call that act prayer. Of course, I must be honest with you, I had no idea what I was doing. They told me to go into my prayer closet with my bible. So you already know what that looked like. Picture this, a young boy, in a closet with his bible and did I mention this is a trailer closet, so it’s small. When you don’t know, you just don’t know. Let’s take prayer to the next level.

    One of the most popular 099 level ways we pray is to recite God’s word. Please keep in mind that I’m not saying this is totally wrong. However, what I am saying is that this is ground level and I want to help you take that to the next level and besides there’s very little to no evidence in scripture that supports this as being prayer. By the way, while I’m here, one must decide whether prayer is what others say it is or what God (The Bible) says that it is. Is it not time to get beyond a recited scripture? Now is your time to act on the structure and use it to take your prayer to the next level.
  2. Reciting common prayers.
    These represent the prayers we’ve memorized.
    Think about the prayers you have memorized. I recall when I was a young boy growing up, I could recite my dad’s prayer word for word. You see he was the head deacon and prayed in front of our church many Sundays. His prayer would almost always be the same. I could recite it right along with him for my friends to enjoy while we sat on a pew in the rear of the church.
    Could it be possible for one to reduce prayer down to lines of poetry that we’ve memorized and tagged it as prayer? I must ask a tough question here, who said this was prayer? Here are a few commonly recited prayers that you might be familiar with:
    • The Lord’s Prayer.
      I know that hurts for you to hear me say that reciting the Lord’s prayer is prayer 099.

      Our Father which art in Heaven,
      Hallowed be thy name…

      Do you honestly believe that when Jesus went to pray as he did regularly[1] that all He did was recite the Lord’s prayer? It’s the prayer He taught His disciples. Yet, it’s hard to believe that all night long[2] He repeated these words over and over again. The question I have for you is how will you take this prayer (The Lord’s Prayer) to the next level? What will you learn or what will you ask God to teach you through its words. Let’s not stay at 099 prayer. The disciple who asked for “The Lord’s Prayer” did so, so that they could take their prayer to the next level. When will you ask God for His help to take you prayer to the next level?[3]
    • Bedtime prayer
      “Now I lay me down to sleep,
      I pray thee, Lord, my soul to keep;
      If I should die before I wake,
      I pray thee, Lord, my soul to take.”[4]

      Why is it that everyone knows this? Could it be that it’s so that we never take our prayer to the next level? Is this where we stop? Think of it this way. We taught our children this prayer, but we never got beyond it. So from age two to thirty-two, we’re still reciting this simple prayer. Teaching like this is what we would deem unacceptable. If our school stopped teaching our children to count to ten and never went any further, we would have serious problems with our school. Why is it we’ve stopped at this prayer when teaching our children how to pray? When will we take them beyond this recited bedtime prayer?
      Did I say this was next level prayer?
    • Mealtime prayer
      God is great, God is good… [5]

      Most people call this a “blessing.” Let’s bless the food. We bless our food before eating and call it prayer. What’s interesting is that we often will not bless our food in the presence of strangers and coworkers, especially those who have a higher position. And I understand, why not if this is all that you have. Why not go beyond this prayer or giving thanks for a meal? If this is the only time that you pray, why not make the most of it and take it to the next level?
    • The Serenity Prayer
      “God grant me the serenity
      To accept the things I cannot change;
      Courage to change the things I can;
      And wisdom to know the difference.[6]
      .
      .
      .
      It wouldn’t be me if I didn’t say this. [To the left] I almost hate this prayer for two reasons: 1) most people know these four lines but have never read the complete prayer, and 2) most (51% or more) have no idea that this prayer isn’t in the Bible. In fact, we, normally, give this prayer more credit for being Godly than the words we find in scripture. As a person of faith, this is almost insulting, but it gives me more fuel to help others take their prayer to the next level. If we’re going to use these lines, let’s make it our own when we go to God. Remember, we’re talking to God when we pray. This is next-level prayer, not prayer 099.
    • The Prayer of Jabez
      “Oh, that You would bless me indeed,
      and enlarge my territory,
      that Your hand would be with me,
      and that You would keep me from evil,
      that I may not cause pain!”[7]

      While I truly like the prayer of Jabez, I remember when this prayer became popularized by a book called, “The Prayer of Jabez.” I must admit, I liked the book. However, when this book grew in popularity it was as if a new scroll of scripture, buried for centuries, had been found containing these words. The prayer Jabez prayed had been in the Bible the whole time, but for some reason it wasn’t noticed until this book appeared.

      What’s interesting about Jabez is that most don’t realize, besides the prayer he prayed, is that he took his prayer to the next level by praying this well known prayer. It’s said that Jabez was more honorable than any of his brothers because he did what his brothers wouldn’t do. He prayed.[8] His brothers didn’t pray, maybe prayer wasn’t something his family did. At any rate, he, Jabez, took his prayer to the next level. He didn’t stop at what was normal for his family. He prayed. He took prayer to the next level. Will you?

Oh how I wish I could continue, but there is so much more I’d like to share. We will stop here and let you think on these things so that you can absorb and use it to take your prayer to the next level. In our next message, we will pick right back up with more 099 styles of prayers. We will use these to continue to set the foundation for taking our prayers to the next level.

Question: What prayer have you been reciting and calling it prayer?

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Reference #1: Luke 5:16 NLT, Bible.com, accessed July 27, 2021, https://www.bible.com/bible/116/LUK.5.16.NLT
Reference #2: Luke 6:12 NLT, Bible.com, accessed July 27, 2021, https://www.bible.com/bible/116/LUK.6.12.NLT
Reference #3: Luke 11:1-4 KJV, Bible.com, accessed July 27, 2021, https://www.bible.com/bible/1/LUK.11.1-4.KJV
Reference #4: Unknown. “The New England Primer.” Wikimedia Foundation, Inc. Accessed July 27, 2021.  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_New_England_Primer
Reference #5: Unknown. “child’s mealtime blessing.” World Prayers. Accessed July 27, 2021. https://www.worldprayers.org/archive/prayers/celebrations/god_is_great_god_is_good.html
Reference #6: Unknown. “The Serenity Prayer and Twelve Step Recovery.” Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation. Accessed July 27, 2021. https://www.hazeldenbettyford.org/articles/the-serenity-prayer
Reference #7: I Chronicles 4:9-10 KJV, Bible.com, accessed July 27, 2021, https://www.bible.com/bible/1/1CH.4.9-10.KJV
Reference #8: I Chronicles 4:9-10 NKJV, Bible.com, accessed July 27, 2021, https://www.bible.com/bible/1/1CH.4.9-10.KJV

All Scripture references used by permission, see our Scripture copyrights.

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