My Bible study group has been going through The Life You’ve Always Wanted by John Ortberg and in chapter six, I was really convicted about the spiritual discipline of prayer.
I was taught to pray in a certain order—praise God first, pray for other people, confess your sins, and then ask God for what’s been troubling you lately. It’s the order laid out in the Lord’s Prayer in the Bible, which makes sense.
But me being me, I don’t like strict guidelines like that. I will go to ridiculous lengths to avoid them. Which might be why prayer has always been so difficult for me. I just want to dive in and say, “Hey God, this is really bugging me and I could use some help,” rather than spending a good five minutes in praise, intercession, and then confession before the supplication part (although typically confession is mixed in there with my supplication).
Maybe I’m just impatient. Maybe I’m just a rebel. Who knows? I just know that prayer has always been a difficult spiritual discipline for me.
The author of the book quotes Walter Wink, who said: “The fawning etiquette of unctuous prayer is utterly foreign to the Bible. Biblical prayer is impertinent, persistent, shameless, indecorous. It is more like haggling in an oriental bazaar than the polite monologues of the churches.”
The author goes on to talk about “simple prayer”: “In simple prayer, I pray about what is really on my heart, not what I wish was on my heart.”
That really struck me. I’m always struggling to pray in a way I wish my heart was aligned, and it’s not. Maybe that’s why prayer is so hard for me.
The author goes on to quote Richard Foster: “We bring ourselves before God just as we are, warts and all. Like children before a loving father, we open our hearts and make our requests. We do not try to sort out the good from the bad…”
So now I’m going to try to jump start my prayer life (yet again). But this time, I’m not going to focus on the “correct” way to pray, I’m just going to pray. Because I think God would rather I simply pray in any old way rather than not pray at all.
I want to extend this to you guys. How can I pray for you? I created a form for you to fill out your prayer requests to protect your privacy. Please let me know how I can pray for you!