Monday, November 08, 2010

Pray This, Not That


Oh, older writings of mine. How you vex me, as I try to decipher my own handwriting. And, as I stare in wide-eyed wonder at how things I wrote then can and do run parallel with things I am going through now. Take this for example; it’s from a journal entry six years (!) ago, written while I was reading Matthew 6; specifically, in dealing with the Lord’s Prayer:

“Prayer opens our hearts and minds to God. Going into a prayer, it should not be formulaic. This is not a time for theater. This is a time for honesty. Prayer should make us open and receptive to the Spirit, giving us hope when we begin to pray for the things we otherwise would never have known to instead of just asking for the things we think we should.”

Now, I know the way my mind works (most of the time; I take no responsibility for some of the cracked-out dreams I’ve had). I know that in some ways I wrote this as a response to the fact that Christ says “Pray, then, in this way” (verse 9) and not “Pray, then, exactly as I do.”

I wrote this because I saw then (and still to this day see) so many of my friends and fellow believers struggle with prayer.

We take refuge in things that are ritualistic. We take comfort in the formulaic way that life works (i.e.: job = money = good & services). Comparatively speaking, we can more readily accept it (for the most part) when life throws us a curveball and our plans don’t go according to – well, plan, but if life doesn’t go according to our prayers?

Clearly, God didn’t listen. Clearly, we didn’t pray the “right” way. Clearly, we didn’t pray hard enough, long enough, or trusting enough. Clearly, we didn’t confess enough sins, or maybe we didn’t confess the “right” ones.

We believe that we didn’t follow the agenda.

But in reality, we did.

We followed our own.

Look at another prime example we have of Christ’s recorded prayers in the book of Matthew. If ANYONE in the history of life itself ever had a reason to want to get whipped up into a frenzy when He prayed, I’d be willing to grant that award to Christ while in the Garden of Gethsemane (chapter 26). He had the foreknowledge of was about to happen. He knew that He was destined to die.

And in His prayer, He was Himself. He didn’t feel the need to pull the “I am Your Son!” card and plead with God. He didn’t follow the tenets and rituals he had been brought up with as a Jewish man. He didn’t feel the need to do or say anything other than what was on His heart (basically, “I am scared.”).

And yet, He knew that God would listen to Him.

He was honest.

My prayer is that I find that honesty. That I keep to that honesty, and that like Christ, I pray in that manner: opening my heart. Trusting. Not asking. 

Believing and trusting in myself to at least be honest with God, even though it is hard to be honest with myself.

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