As a Realtor, I’ve written more than once about the 3-P’s that a seller must keep in mind when listing their house – Price, Persistence and Patience. I help with setting the price, but the last two are really up to them. They must be persistent in getting the house ready to show before they leave for work each day and they must be patient with the process, especially if their home is in the price bands above $300,000 that are particularly slow right now.
Recently the pastor at my church preached on the topic of the 3-P’s of prayer, which he named as Pattern, Persistence and Payoff.
I assumed at the beginning of the sermon that the Pattern part of the 3-P’s was about getting into a routine (a pattern) of praying; however, the pastor explained that Pattern is about the structure of the prayer and pointed to the lesson that Jesus taught the Disciples when they asked him how they should pray. He gave them a pattern that we now call the Lord’s Prayer. In Matthew 6:9–13 (ESV), Jesus said “Pray then like this: ‘Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.'”
Jesus established a Pattern with that prayer that is useful for all prayers. The first part acknowledges who you are praying too and pays God the homage that He is due. It also acknowledges that it is His will that will be done and not your own. It also reminds us of our responsibility to forgive others and clear our hearts of hate or prejudices or grudges. Then you can make your request. That simple pattern accomplishes everything that you need when praying.
The second part of the pastor’s message was Persistence – the fact is that you must pray more than once and pray as often as you can for the things that you need and want God to help you with. Too often in our modern, “instant gratification” world we have expectations of immediate action from God to grant our prayers. God doesn’t work like that. The pastor didn’t make this point, but I started to think that perhaps it takes longer than we might wish because we have yet to uphold our end of the bargain that is stated in the Lord’s Prayer – we have not forgiven our debtors ( or those who trespass (or sin) against us in different versions of the prayer). Perhaps God is waiting for us to get our act together a bit better before he grants our prayer. Have we forgiven those who trespassed against us in some way? If we do not have forgiveness in our hearts, perhaps we should pray for that first.
That last part was a part of the message that the pastor delivered about the last “P” in the 3-P’s of prayer – the Payoff. Now this part of the message wasn’t about praying to win the lottery and having God dump the winning ticket in your hands. That’s not how it works and, in fact, God may be answering your prayers in ways that you just don’t understand. Perhaps you are praying for God to somehow help you get something in particular because you think that will make you happy – maybe it’s a job, money, or a new possession of some sort or perhaps a date with a specific person. Maybe instead God is answering your prayer to be more happy by showing you ways to be happy with what you have and who you are. Is God answering your prayers? In His own way; yes, He is. You just don’t yet understand. If we believe that God acts in our best interests, then we must also accept his answer to our prayers, even if we don’t understand the answers.
There have been many little things in my life that I have said a little prayer for and then may have forgotten about; yet when I look back at how things turned out, I have to thank God for the answers that he worked out for me. Oft times his answer was not to give me what I had asked for and I look back later and I realize that not getting that thing worked out better for me. God took me in a different direction and I have to thank Him for that. The “His will be done” part worked out better for me. Often, the hard part is letting go of the idea that I can solve problems by myself and letting Him work his will in my life.
I liked what the pastor had to say in his sermon; however, I might combine his 3-P’s with mine from real estate and say that a good guide for life might be these three P’s – Prayer, Persistence and Patience. If you can live by those three P’s you’ll achieve the forth P – the payoff – a peace that passes all understanding.
Have a great week ahead and say a little prayer before you start each day. Remember the 3-P’s of prayer – Pattern, Persistence and Payoff.