Prayer is something that is choked out of our lives. Much like reading the bible, it becomes another "holy badge" that we half heartedly desire but never really take a hold of. Sometimes this is due to our experiences with prayer itself. The prayers that go unanswered, the feeling that no one is listening. All these things are reasonable obstacles to our prayer lives. So what do we do about prayer? I have 3 suggestions:
1) Do it anyways. While this seems like a legalistic and structure laden thing to do. It is also a great thing to do. Much like making sure you eat your vegetables or getting some exercise. Creating a space for prayer is an essential part of our health. We need to make structures and systems in our lives that focus us on the things that are best for us. If you hate structures and systems, I have bad news for you, you have them in your life already and you have just gotten used to them, so why not adjust to something new that will change your life?
2) Do it with others. Praying alone is great, but in order to have prayer become a greater part of your daily life, you must create time to pray with other people. It provides accountability, and helps move us beyond ourselves. We are not meant to experience Jesus on our own. We have been made as communal beings and as such we need to be in community with others to be healthy. We need to people to pray for us and we need people to pray for.
3) Prayer is more about God shaping us than it is about God answering our prayer. In prayer we recognize that we are not in control. I read an interesting quote: "Prayer is the main way that we experience deep change- the reordering of ourselves and our lives. Prayer is how God gives us so many unimaginable things that He has for us... prayer makes it safe for God to give us many of the things that we most desire."
Through prayer God moves us and shapes us to be ready to take what he has for us. I know I have treated prayer more like I was asking a genie to grant me wishes. One thing I have learned though is that God does move in our prayers, though often it is not in the way we asked or expected. Coming before God in prayer is a call to recognize that he has the best things in store for us and that we trust him with that. Prayer is about clinging to him not the clinging to our prayer.
"The Lord is near! Do not be anxious about anything. Instead, in every situation, through prayer and petition with thanksgiving, tell your requests to God. And the peace of God that surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus."
- Philippians 4:5-7
On Saturday Oct 1st from 10-4, we are having a day of prayer and fasting at our Highland Park Site. We would love to see you there! It is a great way to experience prayer as well as meet some new people.