“Hear my prayer, O Lord,Psalm 39:12
and give ear to my cry;
hold not your peace at my tears!
For I am a sojourner with you,
a guest, like all my fathers.
I have been reading a little discussion – some heated – on prayer recently. Mostly in response to the Supremes (SCOTUS) and their decision to back a football coach in his 50-yard-line stand. Anne Lamott (who is often quite capable of making me say “Amen” and cringe all at the same time) wrote a brilliant piece for the New York Times (click here). I thought I would weigh in.
Prayer, to me, is best understood as the language of a relationship. And that language, that form, that rhythm, is as individual as the people engaged in the conversation.
I keep going back to a discussion I had with my Sunday morning class back in Florida. We were talking about prayer, and one class member said, “I don’t pray any more.” Then somebody asked, “Why?” And she responded, “Because it doesn’t work.”
So we talked about what prayer is all about. My friend had been taught, somewhere in her history as a Christian, that prayer was nothing more or less than asking for stuff, or asking God to make stuff happen. We tell God what we want and then God either gets on board or does not.
God, evidently, had a history of not giving her what she wanted. Therefore, prayer does not work. So why bother?
So What is it?
We talked some more, with people all around the table sharing examples of what prayer is to them, along with some of their experiences.
We all agreed that prayer is a critically important component of the fully engaged life, a whole life, a life that seeks to live into all that is possible – especially if we use Christ’s standard of “abundance” as some kind of a measure; we agreed that Prayer is the language of our relationship with God.
Prayer is our connection point with God, and what we do with it matters. It matters a lot. We may talk about this more, but for today I want to leave us with these questions:
- “Is prayer a regular discipline in your life?”
- “What in your life counts as prayer?”
- “Does your prayer involve listening?”
- “What is the language of your unique relationship with God?”
- “Do you have a variety of approaches?”
- “What is the purpose behind your prayer?”
In gratitude for what prayer is, and anticipation for what prayer can still become – DEREK