The Art of Prayer
- Friday, May 03, 2013
Sometimes I think our relationship with Christ is hindered by passive prayer. The Bible says to humble ourselves before the Lord (James 4:10), but often times our humility leads to a sort of "prayer filter." We’re never truly honest with God about how we feel, and we remove all passion from our prayers for fear of somehow offending God. I can remember one time I was having a miserable week, and though I prayed frequently to God for strength, it was always in the polite, courteous tone one might use to ask the time of day.
Finally I just exploded. I shouted, I swore, I stomped up and down like a little kid throwing a temper tantrum. I didn’t care what God thought, I was tired of acting like everything was just fine when it was anything but. Once I’d finished my rampage, I felt as though a sort of shift had taken place in the conversation. It was as though God had said, "Finally, you’re being honest. Now we can get to work."
Don’t censor yourself with God, he already knows what’s in your heart. If you want to cry, cry. If you want to yell, yell until your throat is sore. God wants a relationship with us, and true relationships can only be built upon honesty.
Pray in Letters
The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit. Amen. – Philippians 4:23
There is a book called The Help that I believe everyone should read. Not only is it an engaging and well written story about civil rights in the South, but it also has many small lessons about God and prayer tucked away in its pages. For example, one of the main characters is an older woman by the name of Aibileen. Each night, before she lies down to sleep, Aibileen prays, but instead of speaking her prayers aloud, she writes them. She makes lists of the people in need, writing out hopes and blessings for them on a small pad of paper, then reflects on what she may be able to do to help ease their burdens.
The apostle Paul had a similar system. You may recall that he spent a lot of his time under house arrest, and he continued his ministry by writing letters to the fledgling Christians. The majority of these letters are filled with advice and instruction to the early Church, but they also contain prayers. Paul continuously wrote prayers into his letters for his fellow Christians to read and experience. They were tangible words to be read and re-read while their audience celebrated freedom in Jesus.
Perhaps writing isn’t for everybody, but if something is weighing on your heart try writing it out as a prayer. Let your small paper become your petition to God.
Pray in Partners
“For where two or three come together in my name, there am I with them." – Matthew 18:20
It all started in a Mexican restaurant. I had met a friend for lunch, and as we talked the conversation began to turn more personal. We both ended up confessing to things we had been struggling with, along with some other spiritual frustrations and worries. When our plates were finally cleared away I got up to leave, but my friend stopped me.
"Do you think we could we just pray together really quickly?" he asked. It was something so simple, but as we prayed for one another in that dusty booth, I could feel Christ there with us. I know being a prayer partner is a difficult task, finding a time and place to meet is always hectic, but it’s worth it. When Christians are honest and transparent with one another, it creates an opening for God to work in our lives and the lives of others. After all, no man is an island, and it is the duty of the Church to lift each other up.
Learn to pray together as friends and partners in Christ, because where many are gathered, so is God.
*This Article First Published 5/3/2013
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