Saturday, January 2, 2010

2010-The Year I Learn to Pray

I am about to confess something that is probably quite obvious to everyone: My prayer life sucks.

But there is good news. In His ever loving but completely convicting way, the Holy Spirit has shined His light on this weakness in my life. And that really IS good news, because He doesn't convict me to condemn me (there is therefore now NO condemnation!), He convicts me to cleanse me. I am hopeful that I will look back on 2010 as the year in which the Lord taught me how to pray.

I began to realize how messed up my prayers were back in May, when I noticed that I mostly approached God with a wish list, almost like a child might approach Santa Claus. All my prayers were desperate cries for help, though I really was in need of nothing. I just WANTED my life to be easier. This realization caused me to do something that you may find sort of shocking. I stopped praying.

I stopped praying because I finally realized I was doing it all wrong, but I didn't know how to do it correctly. Now before you feel the need to remind me that there really isn't a "wrong" way to pray, let me explain my struggle. My prayers had primarily been requests for God to work my life out in a way that is pleasing to me. But the more I know and understand about God, the more I realize that the best way to live would be for God to work my life out in a way that is pleasing to HIM. In Romans we are told told that God's will is good, pleasing, and perfect. Why would I ask God to do MY will, when clearly, HIS will is better?

The problem is, I don't always know the will of God. Which means I don't always know how to pray. Which is why I stopped praying. Mostly. I would still talk to God, but in short, obscure, non-specific ways. I would pray things like,"Good morning, Lord. I am glad to know you. Thanks for being such a good God. I trust you to do what is best today."

But throughout scripture we are told, even commanded, to pray ALL THE TIME. I was conflicted because if God's will is good, pleasing, and perfect, why would He ask me to offer up suggestions of what I thought He ought to do in any given situation? On the other hand, mumbling, "thy will be done" through every twist and turn in life seems sort of complacent. Why would God want that?

I truly believe that God is able to do all things, with or without my prayers. Yet, scripture is clear about the power of prayer. This is another paradox that boggles my mind. It appears to me that while God could work His will apart from prayer, He has chosen for prayer to be the vehicle through which He accomplishes His will. In this way, my prayers are clearly offered not to influence or change the will of God, but to enact it. Talk about power! Does it amaze anyone besides me that the Lord of Heaven and Earth would choose to use the clumsy words of humans to accomplish His purposes?

I have so much to learn about prayer, and a flaky heart that cannot be trusted. While I marvel at all that prayer is and can be, in all honesty, I have always found it sort of boring. I will confess that for now, I am simply willing to grow in my prayer life. I am not eager. I am not excited. It will be a discipline for me. A discipline that I trust the Lord can change in to a passion. I am going to study His word, and discover all that He has to say about prayer. You know, He must've known this would be a tough one for some of us, because Jesus even bothered to specifically teach His disciples how to pray. How can it be that I have said the Lord's Prayer my entire life, and still not understood the riches of its words?

Lord, thank you for calling me to pray. I trust you to teach me all that I need to know, and I am thankful that when I fail, your grace is sufficient.


  1. Onward, brave soul. Riches await. I love your honesty and willingness. You've said much about prayer but don't forget the listening part. Very important.

  2. I'm still working on prayer myself. Our church has a great lady who leads prayer meetings two times a week. I really don't like missing my Tuesday morning prayer meeting! I've been learning how to pray better by going every week. You are not alone, there are times I just don't know what to pray about. I hope we both grow in our prayer life this year!

  3. I have struggled with these same issues for years... Let me know when you have it all figured out :)