[This is a post in our ongoing series looking at the themes raised by David Crump in his book Knocking on Heaven’s Door: A New Testament Theology of Petitionary Prayer. We began this series here.]
It’s time to take a break from our journey through David Crump’s book on prayer. His reflections on the Lord’s Prayer leads me to think about the prayers in the Bible that I consider my favorites. Among them, I confess, is this very prayer.
The Lord’s Prayer has been and will always be one of my favorite prayers. I suppose it is meant to be so. Regardless, I have found that it shapes my thinking in more ways than I can imagine. Years ago, I sat down and tried to write in just a few short phrases what I felt my purpose was as a person and as a pastor. I labored over that for some time and emerged with what I thought was an accurate reflection of my heart, when my heart was at its best. As I looked at that statement, I saw that it reflected unmistakably the contours of the prayer Jesus taught us and which I had been taught to recite since childhood.
But there are other biblical prayers which have become favorites over the years. One that a fellow pastor recently shared with me comes from the life of Moses. Moses was at the time so overwhelmed with the responsibilities of caring for God’s people that, at his whits end, he burst out with this honest little request (here shared using Eugene Peterson’s paraphrase):
“I can’t do this by myself—it’s too much, all these people. If this is how you intend to treat me, do me a favor and kill me. I’ve seen enough; I’ve had enough. Let me out of here.” (Numbers 11:14, 15 / The Message)
Most pastors I know resonate with that feeling now and then!
Jehoshophat was a king in Israel who, when informed of an approaching army of enemies, very honestly spoke the words that often reflect my own perspective on the unmanageable:
“O our God…we are powerless against this great horde that is coming against us. We do not know what to do, but our eyes are on you.” (2 Chronicles 20:12)
The great horde for me may be a parenting conundrum or some other unsolvable puzzle. I rarely know what to do. I can only look to God in desperation.
And then, not quite a prayer, but a blessing which can be easily converted to prayerful use is this:
“The LORD bless you and keep you;
the LORD make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you;
the LORD lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace.” (Numbers 6:24-26)
I have often had occasions when I’ve not known anything else to pray for someone who is hurting and broken. In such occasions it has seemed right to pray this for them, to wish every component of God’s favor upon them, to ask that the “Lord, bless them and keep them….”
These, I say, are a few of my favorite prayers. What are yours?