Some staff and elders at SSBC are reading Paul Miller’s A Praying Life in January. Almost everyone I know who has read this book says it’s one of the best resources on prayer. This is good timing for our church, as our theme for the year is drawing closer to God through prayer and drawing closer to one another. This is also good timing for me, as I want a richer fellowship with God and more fruitful intercessory ministry.
I hope to post some reflections here as I read. I probably won’t edit these much – just some raw thoughts from my inner track. Here is my first entry…
Why is Prayer Hard?
My prayer life isn’t great. I’ve seen bursts of enthusiasm and depth in my communion with God. But sometimes it is more perfunctory than enjoyable, more rushed than restful. And I am so easily distracted! The cares and worries of my day enter in and short-circuit the connection I have with God. The pressures of work and home responsibilities crowd out the desire to be still and know God. So I end up bouncing back and forth between focused time of fellowship and distracting, unhelpful worry over daily tasks. My 30 minutes of prayer end up being 10 minutes of real prayer and 20 minutes of who-knows-what. This chaotic way of communicating to my Father is awful frustrating. Miller writes…
American culture is probably the hardest place in the world to learn to pray. We are so busy that when we slow down to pray, we find it uncomfortable. We prize accomplishments, production. But prayer is nothing but talking to God. It feels useless, as if we are wasting time. Every bone in our bodies scream, “Get to work.” (15)
Yup. Amen. Right on. Why does prayer sometimes feel like I’m wasting time? Why is it hard for me to linger in God’s presence? As a Pastor-Elder at SSBC, I am called primarily to two things: the ministry of the Word and the ministry of Prayer (Acts 6:1-7). Why do I sometimes view Word ministry as more important than prayer ministry? More from Miller…
A praying life feels like our family mealtimes because prayer is all about relationship. It’s intimate and hints at eternity. We don’t think about communication or words but about whom we are talking with. Prayer is simply the medium through which we experience and connect to God. Oddly enough, many people struggle to learn how to pray because they are focusing on praying, not on God. Making prayer the center is like making conversation the center of family mealtimes. In prayer, focusing on conversation is like trying to drive while looking at the windshield instead of through it. It freezes us, making us unsure where to go. Conversation is only the vehicle through which we experience one another. Consequently, prayer is not the center of this book. Getting to know a person, God, is the center. (20)
A Responsive Prayer
Forgive me for not approaching you as my caring Father when I pray. Teach me to pray, Father. Teach me to rest in You, to depend on You, and to know You through prayer. Like a young child with a parent, help me today to pause and enjoy unhurried conversation with You. Amen.