John Markum

Teach Us to Pray

Matthew 6:5-13

6 things to include every time you pray, based on the model prayer that Jesus gives here in Matthew 6:

  1. Praise: “Hallowed be Your name.” The Bible tells us in Psalms that God “inhabits” the praises of His people. Always take the opportunity to thank God for who He is and what He’s done.
  2. Submission: “Your will be done.” This is not the last time we hear Christ praying this to the Father. God does His greatest, most intimate work through those who are broken before Him.
  3. Needs: “Give us this day our daily bread.” Interestingly, Christ does not encourage us to pray for material abundance, but rather only for our “daily” needs. In other words, living paycheck-to-paycheck is a gift from God and something to be desired!
  4. Forgiveness/Repentance: “Forgive us…” Demonstrates humility and a desire to remove all things that impair our fellowship with our Heavenly Father.
  5. Others: “as we forgive those who have trespassed against us.” It’s good to pray for yourself, but there is more power when we pray for each other.
  6. Submission: Christ ends His model prayer much as He began it, in acknowledging and anticipating God’s will, and praising Him. “Amen” literally means “so be it” or, “let it be so.”

I’ve also recently heard from one of my leaders that he grew up learning the acronym PRAY: Praise, Repentance, Ask for others, Yourself. I thought that was pretty good also!



I would rather…

I have a tendency to be extreme. And I also don’t see that – entirely – as a bad thing. To me, mediocrity is the enemy. Jesus told a church in Revelation that they were “lukewarm” and basically made Him want to throw up because they were neither hot nor cold… like room-temp coffee… or worse, milk! Balance is not always good. Sometimes, balance is an excuse we use for compromising to laziness, fear, and disobedience to God. Because of that…

  • I would rather trust God for big things and endure criticism, than stay in my place of safety and never see God move.
  • I would rather do something now while the opportunity is ready, than talk about it until it no longer matters.
  • I would rather have an uncomfortable conversation with someone, than ignore the problem and hope it doesn’t get worse.
  • I would rather try too hard, than not hard enough.
  • I would rather be misunderstood than ignored.
  • I would rather give everything than give a “token” gift.
  • I would rather be too tired than too comfortable.

I always hate it in baseball or softball when a batter gets strike three watching a pitch. As if they’re afraid of the consequences of taking a rip at it. Yes, there’s a chance you could miss. But you always miss 100% of the pitches you never swing at. Get in the game! Do something significant! Risk too much, not too little! Wouldn’t you rather?



“Stop and Look at Me!”

Kids, man… I’ve got FOUR!!! And I love the heck out of each of them. But they can also be a handful! There are times when my kids are playing in the house and running around after each other, making noise, and causing general chaos. I’ll sometimes try to speak over the situation with some kind of instruction, like:

  • “Hey, no running in the house!”
  • “Don’t you dare throw that at her!”
  • And my favorite… “BE QUIET!”

Eventually the chaos is more than I can stand and I have to get very direct. I’ll grab one of my children and pull them away from their ruckus, and demand their undivided attention. But even as I am calmly attempting to give them a very clear, direct command to behave the right way, they sometimes will try to pull away from me, eyes pointing back toward their favorite distractions. It’s then that I demand them to “Stop and look at me!” Sometimes I’ll say, “Give me your eyes!” I know that until they pull their mind away from their chaos, they’ll never really hear what I’m trying to tell them.
Is it possible that you and I miss out on what God is trying to tell us because we are so busy with our grown-up chaos? When is the last time you felt God saying, “Stop and look at Me!”
I confess that sometimes my prayers consist of little more than a quick shout-out to God as I’m racing from this meeting to that function, and back to my office before the next function. That’s like my kids running around, doing their thing and giving me a “uh huh, yeah, ok Dad. Whatever you say…” kind of response. They didn’t hear me. And they’re probably not going to act on what I told them. Their eyes give it away. When they’re not listening to me, they’re usually looking away at what they would rather be doing other than talk to me. And God knows that until He “gets our eyes” He doesn’t really have our attention either.

When is the last time that you got out of your chaotic schedule, slowed down, and gave God your undivided attention? If you do have a regular habit of quiet time and prayer, how easily distracted do you get by the demands of your life? What will it take for you to “give God your eyes”? What are the things that you’re often looking at that pull your attention away from stopping and looking at God for a few minutes each day? A cell phone? Computer screen? TV?
Slow down your day for 15 minutes, preferably before the chaos really begins, and quiet yourself, tell God you’re listening, and give Him your “eyes.” You’ll feel closer to Him throughout the day, you’ll likely be a lot less stressed, and you’ll give God priority above all your other pressing demands.



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