- Monday, June 15, 1998
Do you want to talk to God but can't figure out how? Or when you do talk to Him it doesn't seem effective? Learning some simple techniques can make your prayer time with the Father exciting, inviting, and rewarding.
Praying is focused attention on God. It is quality time with the Father - not the ramblings of your random thoughts and complaints.
For prayer that makes sense:
Resist bothering God when you are only bored with yourself. Prayer is not an activity for times when you have nothing better to do. Prayer is the better thing to do.
Beware of employing prayer for wish fulfillment. Prayer is not magic. It is worth thanking God when your car starts in cold weather, but don't expect God to get it started for you when your battery is weak and you've neglected to get a tune-up.
Make friends with God through prayer. This is the whole point of prayer.
Listen to God as you pray. Prayer is not an adventure in God-seeking since He is already there and it is Him who found you. The adventure is in hearing during the supposed "silence."
Do not hold God responsible for adversity. Although you pray legitimately for God's protection, acknowledge that the evil that befalls you is not His fault. God's goodness does not depend upon His making everything right.
Conclude every prayer: "Not as I will, but as you will." This is the way Jesus himself prayed. Ironically, you owe your redemption to the fact that God's contrary will was that Jesus persist to the end, which He did - on the cross!
Resist the temptation to remake God in your own image. God does not have to be patronized to be accessible. Do not yield to the temptation to diminish God, shrinking Him to human size, as you make Him your buddy, copilot, or comrade. Instead, grow in Him and you will be a bigger person.
Use few words, but choose them carefully. The world is full of noisy chatter. God has already anticipated everything you have to say to Him. The point of prayer is to focus on God, reaffirming your dependence on Him and your need for forgiveness, expressing your sorrow, your gratitude, and your aspiration to learn to love. The less you say, the more room you give to God to answer your prayers.
Don't expect inspiration. Prayer is neither an investment in gratification nor an exercise in sentimentality. "Dry patches" in your prayer life are normal. It often seems to be a lonely exercise, but even in deafening silence God is listening.
Pray for others.The two great commandments are that we love God and that we love our fellow men and women. The more you concentrate on other's needs in prayer, the more God strengthens you in love and service.
From Breaking Through God's Silence by David Yount. Copyright (c) 1996 by David Yount. Reprinted by permission of Touchstone Books/Simon & Schuster, Inc., New York, N.Y.
David Yount, D.D., is an award-winning newspaper editor, editorial writer, college dean, foundation executive, and author. He completed graduate studies in theology at Saint Paul's College in Washington and the Institut Catholique in Paris, and was awarded an honorary doctorate by the American Biblical Institute. He was chairman of the College of Preachers in Washington, D.C., a member of the executive committee of Washington National Cathedral, and president of the National Press Foundation in Washington, the leading organization serving the professional development of the nation's journalists. He is married with three children, and lives in Montclair, Va.
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