I turned 60 in 2020. I grew up in a Christian home, the middle child between two sisters. I moved a number of times in my public-school years. I’ve been a lawyer for more than 40 years. I am married to a my very sweet wife, Becky, and I have 5 grown children and three grandchildren with two identical twin grand girls on the way!
I’ve seen a lot!
The other day a good friend asked me if I had the chance to tell my younger self something about prayer, what would it be?
I thought, what a great idea! What if I could go back to all those times we moved during my childhood, through all the ups and downs of high school, college and even into my young adult life. What if I could revisit the decisions of what I should do with my life, when I first started thinking about it? (I gave serious consideration to being a preacher). What would I tell my young lawyer self about success and the choices I was making? I would have a lot to tell myself, the more I thought about it, a lot of things about life and living. Of all I might tell my younger self, I think something about prayer is the best place to start!
I really do love time travel shows, like Doctor Who. In my brain right now, I’ve climbed into one of those and I am back to the age of our daughter, Sarah. She’s a senior in college. I think it would be important for me to know more about the value of constant and consistent prayer. I would give myself some pointers on how to be constant in prayer.
The first piece of practical advice I would give myself about prayer is to pray the Lord’s prayer.
Now some people grow up in a tradition where that’s done all the time. I didn’t. I grew up in a tradition where we did not say the Lord’s prayer routinely. Having studied church history, however, I learned that the early church, the church within the first hundred years of its existence, would say the Lord’s prayer three times a day. I started as an older person trying to incorporate the Lord’s prayer into my prayer life and I’ve found that it really enriches my prayer life and my spiritual life as a whole. I have learned that it is especially valuable to me, and to my conversations with God, if I don’t always simply pray it in a routine, ritualistic fashion.
You know, not simply…
I would tell myself not to just rattle it off mindlessly, but instead, think carefully and prayerfully about each phrase and clause. Ask what it means, and ask yourself as you go through each clause, what it means to you in the context of that day. Some days it is something different than it will be other days. (Sometimes I’ve tried to say it to myself in Greek, to force myself to think through the Greek words and the full range of meaning of some of those Greek words). The point is I would tell myself not only to pray the Lord’s prayer, but to really think about that very familiar prayer and count on it every day.
The second thing I would say to myself is that prayer teaches us the will of God. It teaches us how to align our lives with the will of God. In the Lord’s prayer we pray ‘thy will be done.’ Prayer is really about seeking, finding, living and expressing God’s will! In a sense we are God’s viceroys here on earth, we are his hands, his feet and His mouthpiece, so what we try to do in prayer is find his will for our lives, live it out, and share it with others as we go.
There is a third thing I would tell my younger self about prayer: pray, and don’t worry! Prayer is always the solution to worry because prayer takes you to the throne of God. That is when and where we discover (or are daily reminded) that God has everything under control. And knowing that he does, there is literally nothing left for me to worry about. This would be important for me to hear as a teenager, a college student and a young father. In fact, it’s important to me and for me, still, after all these years.
So those three things would be something I would want to know as a young man: 1) pray, and pay closer attention, to the Lord’s prayer 2) use prayer to align yourself with the will of God, and 3) know that God has everything under control, so give him your worries in prayer and leave them at the foot of his throne.
In Part 2 What I would tell my younger self to do with problems!!!