Day 92 – How Do I Pray (Better)?

One of those days Jesus went out to a mountainside to pray, and spent the night praying to God. Luke 6: 12 (NIV)

I’ve been a Christian for, oh, 40 years or so (Egads, did I really write that number? Can it be true? Yep, today was my birthday and I’m older than 40…).

Anyway, I was just thinking as I drove along the other day, “I don’t know how to pray.”

Seriously.

Jesus spent the night praying! I could NEVER do that.

I’d be asleep in 10 minutes.

So, what have I been doing all these years?? How have I communicated to God? (I’ve often heard FROM Him through the Bible, sermons, friends, that “still small voice” – though it took a hiatus for a while). Here are a few of my efforts:

  • I’ve prayed the Lord’s Prayer and many written prayers, but it feels like I am reading, not talking to someone – even though the prayers are often beautiful and say some awesome and theologically accurate things.
  • I’ve had lists and lists of friends that I’ve prayed over. But after a while, I started giving my requests in shorthand to God, “Linda. Heal cancer. Help kids.” I got bored. Maybe God did to.
  • Then I realized that my prayers were either To Do Lists or Wish Lists for God. Not befitting the Creator of the Universe and Savior of my Soul. Is he really my servant? My Santa Claus? Oh, I know He wants to give me good things, but should I tell Him what to give?
  • I’ve done the ACTS: Adoration Confession Thanksgiving Supplication pattern. The best part is to remember to worship first. But, again, it felt rote.
  • Larry Crabb has as variation called PAPA: Present (what’s going on), Attend (to how I feel), Purge (confess sin), Approach (God)
  • I do best when I journal, but since having kids, that’s been hit and miss (one reason I am blogging devotions this year).
  • I also like to pray out loud with others, but am sometimes aware I am teaching my friends as much as addressing God.
  • The last book I read was all about contemplative prayer. Puhleeze. I rarely meet God trying to pray that way. I mostly meet sleep. I connect with God much better right here, writing about His Word.
  • One of the biggest deterrents to prayer for me is the fact that I believe God is sovereign. He’s got it worked out. He knows what’s best. So, why ask for a change of plan when it won’t be forthcoming?  I know. I know. It’s about the relationship. It’s about ME changing.
  • I did recently get convicted by a Tim Keller teaching on the benefits of prevailing prayer (you know: bug God a lot like the widow bugged her neighbor). I thought that form of prayer rather rude, especially in light of the Proverbs warnings against nagging. But Tim points out that such prayer helps us be grateful when answers do come: we realize it’s God, not coincidence or us.

But what I want I don’t know how to get. After all these years, I just don’t know how to have a normal ongoing conversation with God. I used to think that we conversed as He listened to my thoughts. And I think there’s some truth in that. But sometimes I need to open my mouth and speak, if even in my head. But I forget. Time passes during the day… and I’ve forgotten to talk.

Well, Jesus came and took on flesh, giving up some of His heavenly powers. I think that means that He was forced to relate to the Father and the Spirit with some of the limitations we experience in our bodies. Yet He prayed all night. He went away and prayed alot.

If Jesus did that, He can teach me how.

It’s about time I learned.

Today’s Readings: Deuteronomy 25:1-26:19, Psalm 39:7-11, Proverbs 13:4-6, Luke 6:1-26. See About for what I’m up to with these daily posts.

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