There are some prayers we shouldn’t pray because they are frivolous. In that category would be “The Yuppie Prayer,” “The Woman’s Prayer,” and “The Man’s Prayer.”
The Yuppie Prayer – Now I lay me down to sleep, I pray my Cusinart to keep. I pray my stocks are on the rise, and that my analyst is wise. That all the wine I sip is white, and that my hottub’s watertight, that racquetball won’t get too tough, that all my sushi’s fresh enough. I pray my cordless phone still works, that my career won’t lose its perks, my microwave won’t radiate, my condo won’t depreciate. I pray my health club doesn’t close, and that my money market grows. If I go broke before I wake, I pray my BMW they won’t take. Amen.
The Woman’s Prayer – Dear Lord, So far everything has gone well today. I have been patient. I have been thoughtful of others. I have put others first. I have not gossiped, been greedy, grumpy, nasty, selfish, or self-indulgent. I have not lost my temper, or even been brusque. I have not whined, bitched, cursed, or eaten any chocolate. However, Lord, in just a few minutes I’ll be getting out of bed and I am going to need all the help I can get!
The Man’s Prayer – I’m a man … but I can change … if I have to … I guess. From the Red Green Show, on PBS
There are other prayers we should not pray because they are dangerous. The model prayer taught by Jesus in Matthew 6:9-15 is one that should come with a warning label—“Don’t pray this prayer … unless you are serious about God changing your life!”
When Jesus begins, “Pray then like this” (9a), he is saying this is a framework to follow, not a prayer to mindlessly mouth the words. It is a model, a guideline for praying. The four parts of this model include Invocation, Requests, Benediction, and Implications.
Invocation: “Our Father in heaven” (9b). “Our Father” tells us God is personal while “in heaven” tells us he is powerful. One stresses intimacy and the other sovereignty. The first phrase tells us to come close while the second cautions us to come with awe. When we pray, we need to remember who God is. When we bring our requests, we focus on God’s concerns first—your name, your kingdom, your will; and then bring our concerns to him—give us, forgive us, deliver us.
May your name be honored (9c). To hallow God’s name means to hold it in reverence, to honor, glorify, and exalt him. The composers of the psalms knew what this meant (Psalm 34:3). We should seek to exalt God’s name, not use it flippantly.
May your rule be obeyed (10a). We look forward to the time when God’s messianic kingdom will be established by Jesus’ return to earth. Since the kingdom comes by way of conversion (Matthew 18:1-4), it means that we are praying for the salvation of our neighbors, coworkers, family, and friends. Since the kingdom comes through commitment, it means that we are asking God to help us be more submissive and obedient to his direction.
May your will be accomplished (10b). It is possible to pray for God’s will while resenting that God is God. To pray this request means that we must be willing to allow God to do whatever it takes in our lives to accomplish his plan and purpose. It means we pray that God’s will becomes our will.
Please meet our needs as we depend on you (11). In the same way that manna was only given one day at a time, so we are to rely on daily provision for life from God, helping us to develop a continuing dependence on him.
Please grant us forgiveness and a forgiving spirit (12). Sin creates an obligation or “debt” to God that can only be removed through forgiveness. A forgiven person is a forgiving person. This request is singled out for further discussion at the end of the prayer.
Please protect us from falling into sin (13). On the one hand, God does not lead his people to do evil (James 1:12-13). On the other hand, God does allow us to be tested (James 1:2-4). While we know that trials are good for us, we have no desire to be in a place that might lead to sin.
Benediction: “To God be the glory” (13b). While this section is not in the earliest manuscripts, it does fit with the character of Old Testament praise (1 Chronicles 29:11). It reinforces the fact that true prayer is preoccupied with God and his glory.
Implications: This prayer is lived in community (14-15). Those who have received God’s forgiveness should be motivated to forgive others. A forgiving spirit is evidence that we understand and appreciate God’s grace.
This is the synopsis of a message preached at First Central Bible Church on September 11, 2016. It is part of a series on Prayer: Moving Heaven for Earth. Please click on the link to download a copy of the sermon notes.