Archive for the ‘prayer’ Category

How do you pray?

A little while ago I had a conversation with a friend who said, “I just don’t pray that much.”  He went on to describe that he spent almost no time praying.  He was busy.  He had so much to do.  He just couldn’t find the time to get on his knees and pray like so many great spiritual heroes had done in the past.  He had good intentions.  On several occasions as he went to sleep, he had every intention of waking up early to pray for an hour, or two.  Something big like that.  But inevitably something happened in the morning to distract him enough that he would forget and end up in bed the next night wondering where his commitment went.

It was obvious from the way he spoke about his prayer life that he had to “go” meet Jesus somewhere.  In order to pray, he had learned somewhere that he had to assume a posture, usually in a quiet place (some call it a prayer closet), and get on his knees.  And when he did, THAT’S when Jesus would meet him.

And as we talked, I asked him when Jesus left the room.  His head rocked back at what appeared to be a question he had never considered.  I asked him, “Do you have to assume a posture before God is willing to speak with you?”  It was obvious my friend had never considered the question, even though he HAD assumed this about God.

How often do we assume we have to fit within God’s world in order for him to speak with us?  And what if it is actually us that need to invite God into our world.  Because the truth is that Jesus never leaves the room.  The moment we get up off our knees Jesus hasn’t left the building.  He also doesn’t expect us to find our prayer closet to have a conversation.  We don’t have to assume a posture or close our eyes to hear his voice.  We just have to be open to the conversation.

And this brought my friend and I to a very real question.  I include myself in this question.  Why do we compartmentalize Jesus like that?  Why do we assume certain postures that leave him out of very important decisions that order our day?    And what hit me square between the eyes is that I’m afraid of what he might say.  I’m afraid that he might order my world in a way that is different from what I want.

I really get the value of prayer in a quiet space.  But I don’t do the same thing to any of my other relationships.  I don’t compartmentalize my wife or my kids.  Is it also possible that it becomes a convenient excuse to keep him at bay, available when I need him but not to invasive as to change my world?

What say you?


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When I was in college I used to spend a lot of time trying to convince myself that I was saved. It’s a nasty game to be honest because trying to convince yourself that you are saved only reminds you that you may not be. And I didn’t like that. I used to spend many sleepless nights saying the sinners prayer over and over, literally scared to close my eyes because if I died it was entirely possible that I may not have said it in such a way that was correct. When I woke up in the morning I would breathe a sigh of relief and be glad I made it through another night.

But it didn’t take me long to do something that would shout to the world that I was broken, a “sinner” if you will. And this sin had a terrible way of making me wonder if I was really saved, thus continuing the cycle. The badge of disgrace hung around my neck like a noose just waiting for the moments that I would fall and tighten it’s grip, a regular occurrence for me. And once again I would ask for forgiveness, hoping that I hadn’t said something that was incorrect in my prayer of forgiveness that would require me to ask for forgiveness again. Occasionally I would just ask forgiveness just to make sure and then wonder if I needed to again, just for good measure.

You see, no one every had to convince me that I was a sinner. I was proving it over and over and over again. My body had devious ways of faking me out no matter how hard I tried. I knew it better than anyone and eventually learned how to hide that fact really, really well. I created a mask that hid my pain and tried to fake my way through relationships that I hoped somehow would magically work out. And yet as much as I tried to keep my self from peering through the mask, it always found a way to do so. It would conveniently sabotage relationships at just the right moment, just when it was going so good.

And then a friend of mine told me that I needed to find out what the other side of cross looked like. I needed to see what life would look like if I let go of my excuses and embraced His love. Whaaaaaat???? What are you talking about?

The dark side of the cross was a constant reminder of own sin. And I had three decades and more to remind me of what that was like. Was it possible that I had never stepped over to see the redemptive side? And from the dark side, it’s very hard to see the side that says, “You love me.” It’s easy to admit we’re sinners because we have SO much evidence. We don’t need to shout it from rooftops. Our heart screams at decibels that leave us deaf. And because of this we end up hating ourselves, a void of the heart. To step over would almost seem to somehow almost disgrace the cross.

And I realized that we don’t like the cross because it reminds us that God really does love us. “AND HOW COULD YOU REALLY, REALLY LOVE ME.”  And I began to realize that just because God says he forgives me of my sin, doesn’t mean that I forgive myself.  Just because he says I’m worth it, doesn’t mean I believe I’m worth it.

And if I accept this I don’t have any more excuses. I have to give up how I see myself.  I can’t hide behind my petty arguments for not following or growing up. As a failed sinner I was living up to the billing. I knew that if I stepped over that line, into His love, I could no longer hide.

And as I began to embrace the other side of the cross I could no longer see the sin that He had so elegantly forgotten for both of us. Death’s hold was beginning to be released. But God, I didn’t… The cross. But God what about… The cross.

But on the redemptive side, I could no longer hold onto the little boy that failed because I was no longer defined by it. On the redemptive side I had a new identity defined by my Father’s love, not by circumstance or sin.

You see it’s really easy to love someone who does everything right. But the cross reminds us that God loves us period. It’s what the Father does. The cross is God putting it all on the line. And it is up to us to embrace that love.

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There’s a synchroblog happening on the subject of prayer. I wanted to join in because it is one of my favorite things to do.

I honestly didn’t know what I was going to write, other than my thoughts on prayer when just as I began to write, my 5 year old son came up to me and huddled up to my side. He didn’t want to say anything. He just wanted to be with me. He does that from time to time. I stopped writing and he crawled up into my lap. I just hugged him and gave him a kiss. Three minutes. Nothing was said between us. After that he got down and went back to playing. His simple action reminded me of my own posture to prayer.

If I approach it simply to get some specific mundane thing, I may miss what my Father has for me. If I approach it only to dump my problems, I may miss what He has for me. If I approach it to bitch and complain, I may miss what He has for me. If I approach Him for guidance, I may miss what He has for me. But when I approach Him with an open mind, available to what ever He has for me, I find that I am reminded of how much He loves me. And isn’t that what I really need?

I want to be reminded to see my Daddy’s love. I want to curl up in His lap and and know that He already knows my heart. He already knows my fears, and doubts, and hurts, and problems. And yet the answer is His love. I need to just be reminded that He loves me, that I’m better than okay. That I am worth it to Him. That He’d do it all again just to be with me. I don’t have to perform to earn His love. I’ve already got it. So my response is to accept that love and share it with the world around me.

A few others:

Cindy Bryan Teach Me to Pray…Again?
Lyn Hallewell God, Prayer and Me
Erin Word Prayer=Sex with God
Rick Meigs Prayer Helps that Get Me Deeper
Alan Knox Pray without Ceasing
Julie Clawson Prayer Synchroblog
Heather Synchroblog Prayer
Alex (Heather’s Husband) Prayer Synchroblog II
Lydia How Do You Pray
Che Vachon My Thoughts…
Paul Mayers Praying and Learning to Pray Again
Sonja Andrews The Appearance of Holiness
Jon Peres How Do I Pray?
Paul Walker One Congregation Experiments with Emerging Prayer
Susan Barnes Synchroblog: How Do You Pray?
Brother Maynard Fear Not the Silence
Nate Peres How Do I Pray?
Barry Taylor Synchroblog:How Do You Pray?
Emerging Grace Clearance Sale on Intercession Books
Jim Lehmer Synchroblog – How Do You Pray?
Lew A How Do You Pray? – Synchroblog
Jon Hallewell When I’m Spoken To
Deb Prayer Synchroblog
Barb Prayer without Throwing Things
Patti Blount How Do I Pray
Doug Jones How I Pray
Glenn Hagar Prayer Phases
Pam Hogeweide The Art of Blue Tape Spirituality
Mary How Do I Pray?
Rhonda Mitchell Prayer SynchroBlog
John Smulo Praying Naturally
Rachel Warwick How Do You Pray?
Barbara Legere How to Not Pray
Andy How Do I Pray
Cynthia Clack How Do I Pray
Makeesha Fisher The Mystery of Prayer

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