Some not-so-original thoughts on prayer

“To pray, I think, does not mean to think about God in contrast to thinking about other things, or to spend time with God instead of spending time with other people. Rather, it means to think and live in the presence of God. As soon as we begin to divide our thoughts about God and thoughts about people and events, we remove God from our daily life and put him into a pious little niche where we can think pious thoughts and experience pious feelings. … Although it is important and even indispensable for the spiritual life to set apart time for God and God alone, prayer can only become unceasing prayer when all our thoughts — beautiful or ugly, high or low, proud or shameful, sorrowful or joyful — can be thought in the presence of God. … Thus, converting our unceasing thinking into unceasing prayer moves us from a self-centred monologue to a God-centred dialogue” (Henri Nouwen).

Prayer is not about me letting God in on information He was unaware of, or getting Him to do or change things for me. Prayer is about getting to know the heart and mind of God. It’s about seeing my problems and issues with His eyes. It’s about me being conformed into His image, which is ultimately God’s will for all of us.

Prayer is not just about me alone with God. It’s about me and other believers coming together in one accord before God, praying as one. It’s about seeing and seeking God in every waking moment.

All that to say that I am not really that good at prayer. I can pray in emergencies or crisis, but I forget to pray when I feel I am in status quo normal mode. Sometimes, I even forget about God and all He’s done for me. But I’m learning not to come at God all the time asking for things and not sticking around for His responses. I’m learning to come to God and be open to whatever He has for me. I’m learning to be still and listen. I’m learning to quiet my mind and be still. I’m learning to pray not my will, but Thine.

I am a student in the school of prayer who has a very patient Master who won’t ever flunk me or get frustrated with me or give up on me. He is pleased with my weak efforts and my directionless monologues out of a mind that is so easily distracted by anything and everything else. I have an Interpreter who will take the groans and sighs of mine that can’t find words and turn them into perfect prayers.

As always, I believe. Help my unbelief.

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