Last week, I encouraged us to pray in preparation for encountering Jesus afresh this Christmas, and helping others to do likewise. But you may or may not have found that a particularly exciting or easy prospect.
The truth is, prayer can be quite difficult to practice with confidence and meaning, especially on our own. This is why I love getting together with others to pray!
But as I noted last week, Jesus modeled a life of personal prayer, and took time to be with the Father on His own. No fair, we protest! He was Son of God! And this is true. But Jesus, when asked how to pray, gave clear instructions and even outlined a pattern for personal prayer (Matthew 6:9-13).
A pattern like the one Jesus outlined helps shift our praying from simply being lists of requests or meaningless meanderings. As you set-aside time to pray with specific focus on Christmas, you could practice praying through the Lord's prayer. But I have come across a pattern by well known American Pastor, Timothy Keller. In the introduction to his book, "My Rock, My Refuge", Tim Keller outlines a simple pattern of prayer in response to reading a Psalm daily. After reading over the Psalm twice, at a relaxed pace, he suggests reflecting on or journalling responses to these three questions:
Adore - What did you learn about God for which you could praise or thank him?
Admit - What did you learn about yourself for which you could repent?
Aspire - What did you learn about life that you could aspire to, ask for, and act on?
I have found this pattern very helpful in listening to Jesus through the word and then leading me into prayer with Him. Maybe you can focus on a passage that recounts the birth of Jesus. And each time, having reflected on these three questions, utilize your responses as an "on-ramp" for prayer.
It's my hope that as you set time aside to encounter Jesus in focused prayer leading up to Christmas, you encounter Him in a way you haven't yet, and this inspires you in helping others to encounter Him as well.
Praying with you this week!