Prayer – An Exercise in Awkwardness

I’m working on a series of talks about prayer for my church.  To prepare, I asked people to list the five most common prayers they prayed.  I grouped these prayers, taking the top 4, and put them into 4 talks in the series.

While not surprised by the top prayers, I was taken aback by how uncomfortable people are with their own prayer lives.  For many it is an exercise in awkwardness.  Prayer, for a lot of people, seems to feel like it is more about fumbling thoughts, wandering minds and insecure requests than a conversation with a God who loves and listens.

While reading my bible in preparation for this series I made an awesome discovery.  We are not alone in this exercise in awkwardness we call prayer.  The bible is filled with prayers from people whose lives drip with all of the evidence of the uncomfortable.  Check this out!  Kings who messed up and needed God to bail them out, barren women desperately crying out to God for a fertile womb, forgotten people whose sin made such a mess they cry out to God to fix their mess.  Mom’s, dad’s, soldiers, servants, rich, poor, estranged and connected were all participants in the exercise in awkwardness.  Their prayers were cries, sobs, celebrations, accusations, frustrations, praises, sermons, defiance, surrender, confessions and more.

Sometimes God said yes!  Sometimes God said no!  Sometimes God seemed to ignore the prayers until a specific moment.  God told some people to wait, others to trust, many to change and grow.  God commended some peoples faith, chided others for their lack of faith and did not even mention the faith of some people.  (Is this helping the exercise in awkwardness?)

Here are a few thoughts God is revealing to me as I study.

Prayer is more about our hearts than our words.  Words are important, but God looks past them and listens to the cry of our heart.

Prayer is about God and how He interacts more than about us and how we get God to do stuff.

Prayer requires us to move in “right directions” with God.  Here are three specifics to this “move”.

  • We need to deal with the junk.  The bible actually tells us that God shuts His ears to our prayers when we hang on to sin.
  • We need to come in humility.  When I pray for God’s will in my life, I need to be ready to accept His will without the “yeah buts” I give God.  Guess what; God does not need my advice spoken through prayer.
  • We need to be ready to become a part of the answer.  Very often, people who ask God for help are reluctant to do what God asked when He answers.  God will say;  “I hear you, I say yes, now here is what I want from you…”  I say; “I hear you God, I don’t want to do that… is there another way?”

Here are a few examples:  We pray about our finances but do not do what God says about finances?  We pray about losing weight but do not adjust our eating or movement?  We pray about a relationship with someone but are not willing to forgive?  We pray about needing more purpose in life but we’re not willing to take a risk, build relationships, discover our gifts or serve?  All of these are ways we refuse to become a part of the answer.

Okay, so do you want to hear the rest?  Sunday @ Bayside Central… see you there.  Thanks for reading and OFF… we go now.

~ by OFF we go now on May 14, 2010.

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