Often today, when you go to purchase something new, in the description of this product, there is that dreaded caveat, "... some assembly required." Therefore, two things are going to be necessary following your purchase; a copy of the instructions, and a ton of patience. Now let us take this notion and apply it here, to our considerations on prayer. When you consider how best to develop a true Christian Life of prayer, the same caveat applies, "... some assembly required."
Prayer is paramount in the Christian life, so when Jesus' disciples ask him to teach them how to pray, he gives them the Our Father. This prayer is likened to having, "the instructions for assembly". Let us look at the Our Father in this light.
Our Father in heaven, holy is your name. The entrance into the Christian Life, is the realization that God is the Father / Designer of all that is truth and goodness and beauty. The Father created all things and gave them their purpose, and this is true for each one of us.
Before I am, before all else, He is. Who knows better than He?
Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Therefore, we start by going to the Father and asking for the "instructions" that go with our lives. Prayer is not telling God how we want it to be. Rather, it is asking the Father to reveal to us what is his plan for our lives.
Therefore, let us go to the One who made us. Who is there that could possibly know us better, and what are our true needs?
Give us this day our daily bread. Wants and desires, ambition and aspirations, values skewed by minds shrouded in darkness so easily dominate our thinking. What is past is over, what is to come, beyond our control. What is for now alone is that upon which we place our hands. What the Lord reveals is what we need now, above all else. This must be the focus of our prayer.
Look neither behind nor before, look down into your hands.
What do you see placed there, what has been given?
Forgive our wrongdoing, as we forgive others. Those who begin assembling before they have seen the instructions, will soon have produced something that has little resemblance to the picture on the front. For-(as before)-give, is to give back what was, before the mistakes began - and with it the opportunity to start over, to get it right. God does not want us to fail, rather to succeed.
Place in me a truly humble and contrite heart O Lord.
Deliver us from the deceits of the evil one. We are no match for the wits of the deceiver, who has but one interest in us - that we should fail and be lost.
"I have given you a Carpenter to help you build.
With Him at your side, you surely will succeed."