THE FIRST FORMAL LESSON on prayer I remember receiving was in Ms. Vicki’s fourth-grade Sunday school class. Ms. Vicki took us fourth graders seriously even though we were children. She believed us when we had problems and took our concerns to heart without patronizing us. She wanted to hear our thoughts and opinions, and she encouraged us to ask questions about the Bible. Even still, Ms. Vicki had no problem chiding and disciplining us. “There’s a difference between acting like children and acting childish,” she reminded us. “I encourage the first,” she continued, “but I don’t tolerate the second.”
Seated at the Sunday school table, sun pouring through the stained-glass windows, adding vibrant color to the sad, mottled carpet from the 1970s, Ms. Vicki taught us the correct format for prayer: A prayer should always include thanks, intercession, petition, and gratitude. And always, always in Jesus’ name. That’s where the power came from, she said. That phrase acted like a notary public; it made our prayer official and sent it straight to God. God was not a vending machine, Ms. Vicki insisted, but prayer did have a protocol. Prayer was a particular thing that one did or did not do, and the way we did it was important.
– Hannah E. Shanks
This Is My Body
From page 41 of This Is My Body: Embracing the Messiness of Faith and Motherhood by Hannah Shanks. Copyright © 2018 by Hannah E. Shanks. All rights reserved. Used by permission of Fresh Air Books. http://bookstore.upperroom.org/ Learn more about or purchase this book.
What is important for you to include when you pray? Share your thoughts.
I will both lie down and sleep in peace; for you alone, O LORD, make me lie down in safety.
Acts 4:8, NRSV
This Week: pray for increased faith. Submit your prayer to The Upper Room Living Prayer Center or share it in the comment section.
Did You Know?
In need of prayer? The Upper Room Living Prayer Center is a 7-day-a-week intercessory prayer ministry staffed by trained volunteers. Call 1-800-251-2468 or visit The Living Prayer Center website.
This week we remember: Dietrich Bonhoeffer(April 9).
(Courtesy of Vanderbilt Divinity Library)
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