I’m no expert in prayer. I’ve certainly tried to make it into something more complicated than it should be plenty of times. Lately I’m trying to really concentrate on allowing prayer to simply be a connecting time with God. No rules, no formulas . . . and no pretenses and no platitudes.
I joined a prayer meeting earlier this week, and as we prayed together, a sadness fell over me. The realization that we don’t know how to pray struck me. The act seems so simple, and yet to truly set aside ourselves in order to approach the throne and converse with him in relationship comes with such difficulty.
On top of that, corporate prayer offers us a unique opportunity to connect with each other as we, together, connect with God. But I think we miss out on that opportunity to connect, instead using that “air time” to do other things. Consider the last corporate prayer time you attended. Did anyone . . .
- Gossip about what’s going on in someone else’s life under the guise of sharing prayer requests?
- Give a lengthy report during prayer of what’s going on in his or her life and bookend it with Christiany prayer words?
- Use a “confession” time as a time to share surface level issues passed off as deep struggles?
- Praising and thanking God only for what he has done for him or her, not just for who he is?
- Use a time of thanksgiving as a time to brag about all of his or her “blessings”?
- Preach an entire sermon, complete with points of application?
- Spent more time asking for things, rather than praising him and simply trying to connect with him?
I mean, imagine if you have the same conversation with a close friend who knows what’s going on in your life. What would it look like? Would it be filled with talking about yourself, what you want, and asking for stuff? As I’ve talked about my struggle with self-centeredness, I see it bleed over into this part of my life too. I want to set aside myself so I can truly connect with him through prayer.
Are you sad, Lord, about the way we pray? Do you long for more from us? Do you see the missed opportunities to connect with us or for us to connect with each other? Help us to see prayer differently. Teach us how to pray.
If you were God listening to your prayers, would you be satisfied with the conversation?