In another post I talked about how I’m just not very good at a lot of things that some one who was raised in church should be good at. It’s not the fault of my upbringing. I had an awesome childhood, was given the opportunity to attend a Christian school K-8 and even went to a private Christian college. It’s not like I wasn’t shown how to do things. It’s not like I wasn’t encouraged to do good Christian things like prayer. I was.
Prayer is on the top of my list of things I wish I was better at. When I say better I am not even talking about using better or more flowery words to talk to God. My four-year-old articulated it for me the other night. I asked if she wanted to pray and she replied “there are so many things (to pray for) my brain doesn’t work”. Most days I don’t know what to even say much less how to say it. I lead bible studies and start to sweat when my regular ‘prayer’ isn’t there on Tuesday morning. (in this situation I’m betting it has a lot to do with pride and not having pretty words, regardless I start sweating). What I’d like to say at the beginning of bible studies is something like. Lord I’m an idiot, get me out of here, what was I thinking…but I don’t because of the fear that God would say ‘she finally figured it out’ and strike me down on the spot. And I’m pretty sure people would run with a kick off prayer like that.
Prayer is a topic that fills the shelves of Christian book stores and even Walmart. So many discussions open on how powerful prayer is for Christians. With so many how to’s and reasons why we should pray I get bogged down. As a mother I am told I need to pray for my children and their spouses from before conception so that they will have a blessed life. Add to that mandate that the frequency of these prayers need to be daily or those poor kids are out of luck. It may not be what these people are wanting to communicate but that is what gets communicated. Let’s be honest. If that is true my kids are in trouble. Looks like I’m raising 4 axe murderers. Don’t completely write me off if what I just said makes you uncomfortable. I do pray for my children but there is no way I do it every day. I pray for my children but I don’t keep a journal. I pray for my children but sometimes all I can say is there name.
I bring this up because it has so little to do with our character, our actions, or our intentions and everything to do with what God does, with God’s character, and with Gods intentions. We love our children but God loves them more. We want what is best for our children but God wants and knows what is even better. My husband and I praying for a specific thing for our child isn’t going to change God’s mind about what is best. And thank goodness it won’t because like I said be fore God’s love for our kids and his understanding of what they need is way better and way bigger than anything we could think or articulate.
Prayer is powerful but not because of our merit of character or desires or effort. It’s not about how many times you walk around a building, it’s not about how genuine the request is, it’s not about how bad you want it or how many times you’ve asked for it. It has everything to do with what God has done, is doing, and who He is. It has everything to do with the fact that God put this all in motion before the beginning of time. God loves us and our kids more than we can imagine. And God’s intentions are way better than ours. I don’t know the reference but I love the verse..”His ways are not our ways his thoughts are higher than our thoughts…”
I don’t know about you but for me those how to’s that line the book shelves do nothing to encourage me to talk to my heavenly father. What encourages me and calls me to talk to my heavenly father is this:
“Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself interceded for us with groaning’s too deep for words.” Romans 8:26
Luther knocked it out of the park when he said this about prayer in the Large Catechism. “We should think, ‘On my account this prayer would amount to nothing. But it shall succeed, because God has commanded it’ Therefore, everybody no name what he has to say in prayer should always come before God…” He also says it way better than I could when he tells us in the Large Catechism “You can raise this point with Him and say “Here I come, dear Father, and pray, not because of my own purpose or because of my own worthiness. But I pray because of your commandment and promise, which can not fail or deceive me.”
Prayer is important because we are called, commanded, invited to do it. We are called, commanded, invited to talk to GOD. Not a Bruce Almightly type of god but living, died on the cross, rose from the dead, loved us so much he did it all for us type of God. (we have an intercessor). Prayer is not powerful or important because of me or what I can accomplish. This is where I feel pretty foolish and confused about my nature for not having a huge desire for prayer. We have an open invitation to talk to God. I have an open invitation to talk to God…and I turn it down. While I am horrible at praying, and do not do it as often as I should, in spite of that and in spite of me I am heard and I am being ‘interceded for with groaning’s to deep for words.’
This all goes back to the fact that I have always and will always be loved in spite of myself. My prayers have been heard and God is at work in spite of any of the prayers I have or haven’t prayed. It all has to do with God’s character in spite of the fact that I’m horrible at praying.
Hebrews 7:25 Consequently, he is able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through him, since he ALWAYS LIVES TO MAKE INTERCESSION FOR THEM.
The Lord opens our lips! Psalms 51:15 O Lord, open my lips, and my mouth will declare your praise. (If you are looking for an awesome psalm to read 51 is my favorite. This was a psalm from David after Nathan the prophet chatted with him about his affair with Bathsheba. That historical context will bring light and understanding to this Psalm).