How much of our praying is done in the imperative mood?
“Forgive us. Heal them. Grant repentance to that one. End hunger. Fix everything.”
Yes, “to pray” literally means to ask. But if our God-talk doesn’t feature thanksgiving, dogmatic and doxological praise for who the Lord is and what he has done, and express love and fear of God the Trinity, then we are just making the Almighty our errand-boy.
Even the model prayer Christ gave us begins and ends with the glory and lordship of the Father. Why do we spend so much time telling God how to do his job and so little time extolling his wondrous works and his awesome holiness?
One solution would be to spend a little time regularly in the prayerbook and the Psalter. Both contain a “balanced diet,” so to speak, of adoration, confession, thanksgiving, and supplication. (That forms the handy acronym ACTS – in case you want to use it to reflect on what is most prominent in your own experience of prayer.)
The prayerbook and the Psalter may not be your heart’s native language. But with only a little diligence they can become your heart’s language. Many of us who grew up in traditions that didn’t include praying from a text have found that using some prepared prayers lends our own words a depth and expressiveness that enables us better to express ourselves even in extemporaneous prayer. Like a wider, firmer launching pad that lets the soul climb higher in confession of God’s goodness and in intercession for his people.