• 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!

Prayer Tools?

As I thought about today’s post, I wondered if simply scanning the text of chapter 26 from A Praying Life and inserting here wouldn’t be the best. Each paragraph seems to “put a searchlight” on another area of struggle we have with prayer, and particularly in finding a balance between childlike praying and “tools” that serve to direct our prayers.  Two ideas in particular are worth pursuing further.

One, is that our lack of some tool or system might reveal a heart of unbelief.  Paul Miller writes: “The bottom line is we don’t write down our prayer requests because we don’t take prayer seriously.  We don’t think it works … I am not naturally a people person, but when I regularly pray for people using some kind of written system, my heart tunes into them.  I am bolder about asking them how things are going because they are already on my heart.”  How many times have I, have you, been talking with someone by phone or Skype and said, “Hey, I’ll be praying for you about that,” and then when we hung up, we never prayed for that need?  Am I, are we just using Christian jargon to make others feel better, or do we really believe that God responds to our prayers?

Second, is that our commitment to a system or tool for prayer might keep us from God rather than drawing us to Him.  Paul Miller describes it this way: “Systems can become rote, desensitizing us to God as a person.  We can become wooden or mindless as we pray.”  Haven’t you felt yourself fall into this trap at times?  You feel like you’re sharing a list with God, rather than engaging Him in heart conversation.

What struck me most is that Paul Miller doesn’t try to solve this struggle for us, by choosing one “option” or another.  He writes: “Remember, life is both holding hands and scrubbing floors.  It is both being and doing.  Prayer journals or prayer cards are on the “scrubbing floors” side of life.  Praying like a child is on the “holding hands” side of life.  We need both.” 

Seeking that balance of both is what makes prayer such a journey worth taking!

2 Responses

  1. This is the constant challenge. Is it a balance we need to seek? Maybe so, but I also find that there are seasons in my life where one or the other helps draw me into deeper relationship with God and the reality of praying.

    • We want to avoid both unbelief and rote repetition (which could be another form of pride or unbelief), that’s why I feel a balance or maybe a better way to put it is that we need both. How that works out exactly is all part of the journey.

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