Today we’re going to hit on a topic that has confounded, confused, and conundreded (it’s a word because I say so) for many, many, many years. This topic, of course, is prayer. To often what I hear, when I hear people talking about prayer, is a refrain from one of my favorite TV shows.
And if you need more elaboration on this point, just go here.
But more to the point, to often, when we start talking about prayer, it sounds like a lot of the same thing over and over and over again. The problem with this is that it doesn’t seem to make a lot of sense.
Prayer should be the most basic part of who we are as Christian people. But, for some reason, its hard. We get worried about whether or not we’re doing it right, or saying the right words, or doing the right actions, or a lot of stuff like that. This is one of those times when we don’t have to worry about “getting it right” in fact, Jesus talks about this. We just have to do it.
We have a tendency to think of the people Jesus is talking about there as being arrogant and full of themselves, but another way to think of them is that they were doing what they thought they were supposed to be doing. They may have been going about it in a self-serving way, but they were working under a certain assumption.
The assumption is that we have to do things in a certain way or God won’t listen. If you take nothing else from this, then take this. God doesn’t need our prayers. Prayer is not for God. Prayer is for us. God appreciates our prayers, and wants us to pray, but he doesn’t need them.
Prayer is for us. It’s what lets us talk to God, and listen in return. The key is that it doesn’t matter how we start our prayer, or what we say, or how we say it, or what position we contort our bodies into. The key is that we do it.
But how? Because sometimes the hardest part is that we still don’t know how to begin. It’s like starting a conversation with someone you’ve never met before, and who you aren’t sure that you share any interests with. Its hard to start, but once you do you can keep it going.
Again, Jesus helps us out with this too. Back in Matthew 6 he gives us the words. These aren’t just words to repeat every Sunday.
“This, then, is how you should pray:
“‘Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name,
your kingdom come, your will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread.
And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.
And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.
This is a good place to start if you don’t have the words. What works with this is that you can repeat it over and over. That sounds really repetitive. But that’s okay. Remember, when we do this, we’re trying to find the right words, and this gives us the words we need. At some point along the way something catches our attention. When that happens, GO WITH IT! That’s when we’re beginning to find the right words.
Remember that prayer is what lets us talk to God. God already knows us better than we know ourselves. Prayer is what helps us begin to figure that out with God’s guidance.
As you read this, find some time to go pray. Start working on what works best for you, and see what God is going to do in you, and through you.