• Our hope-filled future is bound up in sharing the story of Jesus, in discipling others, in bringing those disciples together into communities of believers, and in developing and releasing those believers to create other communities... till Jesus the King comes again!

“Come Messy”

Jesus does not say, “Come to me, all you who have learned how to concentrate in prayer, whose minds no longer wander, and I will give you rest.”  No, Jesus opens his arms to his needy children and says, “Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest (Matthew 11:28, NASB).  The criteria for coming to Jesus is weariness.  Come overwhelmed with life.  Come with your wandering mind.  Come messy.”

I can relate, as maybe you can, to the struggle that Paul Miller describes here in chapter 3 of what he calls a “wandering mind”.  But as I re-read this chapter, an even earlier statement hit me harder:

When we slow down to pray, we are immediately confronted with how unspiritual we are, with how difficult it is to concentrate on God.  We don’t know how bad we are until we try to be good.  Nothing exposes our selfishness and spiritual powerlessness like prayer.”

Wait a minute, I thought, how can he talk about selfishness and powerlessness when I am for the most part consistent in my prayer time?  As soon as those thoughts came to mind, I realized I was trying to gain some advantage with God, rather than admitting my neediness to “come messy” to Him. Miller drives the point home even further when he says:  

Ironically, many attempts to teach people to pray encourage the creation of a split personality.  You’re taught to “do it right.” Instead of a real, messy you meeting God, you try to re-create yourself by becoming spiritual.  No wonder prayer is so unsatisfying.  So instead of being paralyzed by who you are, begin with who you are.  That’s how the gospel works.  God begins with you.  It’s a little scary because you are messed up.”

Now I re-read this part several times as I thought maybe the author (or publisher) missed a word somewhere: “So instead of being paralyzed by who you are, begin with who you are.”  His point is that prayer is about getting our identity straight from the start.  In fact, prayer is probably about our need to get it straight every day.  Maybe that explains the title of this chapter, “Become Like a Little Child.” 

Let’s talk together about these questions:

  • What does “beginning with who you are” look like in practical ways, for you, in your prayer journey?
  • What are some of the ways of “non-personal, nonreal praying that you’ve been taught” that need to be unlearned?



3 Responses

  1. Coming messy means releasing my desire to fix myself up before I pray.. coming totally humbled before Him because I am so messy and needy.

  2. It looks like open honest communication anywhere anytime, in noisy life or precious silence (sometimes middle of the night), with or without words or music, sometimes just listening/looking at Him with my heart knowing steadfastly that He knows every speck of it perfectly, every joy , every sorrow, every failure and triumph of every battle, and yet is always up to something good in and/or through me even when it feels far from that. In blessing or discipline, He is always safe. It is unashamedly feeling that I could not cope daily let alone minister to others without walking, speaking with Him almost as breathing. It is never boring. Situtations, my heart, challenges within and without faced daily,weekly, yearly, through the decades are never static. The more sin I see in me the more beautiful and magnificent is my Lord’s amazing grace. Our creator, perfect mighty judge, delighting to show each contrite heart more mercy and blessings, more tasting of His perfect love. (“If you are too busy to pray, you are too busy” is a poster on our wall for several decades… actually purchased near where Paul and family (father Jack) lived while Ron was in seminary there.) Have we heeded that all these years? No, of course not. Never quitting, making excuses, or feeling you need to make excuses to God is also (in answer to your Q) part of what beginning with who I am looks like to me. Linda

  3. No problem. I won’t post this note, but it would probably be better to send from your WT address. Thanks for your sharing!

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