Updated: Jul 18
Over the past six months, I've come to question if spontaneous prayer is really the best way to pray. When Jesus' disciples asked him how to pray, he did not say, "Be spontaneous." Instead, he gave them a structure, what we now call the "Lord's Prayer" (Luke 11:1-4). Simply repeating the Lord's Prayer can help us to shift from an unspiritual frame of thought to a more spiritual one. Just try it. You can also follow the structure of the Lord's Prayer, but make it your own: Praise of God, Asking for God's Kingdom, Ask for your needs, Ask forgiveness for your sins both individually and communally, Ask for deliverance from temptation.
Jesus also says to be persistent in prayer in the very next parable in Luke (Luke 11:5-8). To me, this shows the Lord's prayer is meant to be taken as a structure in which you may insert your personal needs before God. Yes, it can simply be repeated and it is very beneficial to do so. But your own desires and struggles need to be inserted into the prayer and brought before God persistently.
Lastly, Jesus says God is wanting to bless us with what is good, and not bring us evil (Luke 11:9-12). The first way God brings what is good is by giving us his Holy Spirit to guide us, bringing us all we need for life and godliness (Galatians 5:22-23, 2 Peter 1:3). Jesus says to come to God in prayer expecting God to have a positive stance towards us. God loves us and wants to give us what we need.
To finish out this post, I want to give links to a couple different structures of prayer that have been helpful for me lately.
The first is the prayer of the examen.
The second is the Desire Prayer.
These structures to prayer have been very helpful to me in bringing my thoughts and desires before God, casting my cares upon Him (1 Peter 5:7).