Write 31 days, Day 16
Writing Prompt: Pray
(NB-I skipped a few days staffing Men at the Cross in Kentucky)
If you want to make many Christians feel guilty, ask about their prayer life. Every one of them would agree that prayer is important; the Bible talks frequently about prayer. Paul even told the Thessalonian believers to “pray without ceasing” (1 Thes. 5:16). If you want to add confusion to their guilt, ask them what it means to actually pray without ceasing.
The reason we feel guilty and confused about prayer is that we define it too narrowly. Perhaps we treat it exclusively as “making our requests known to God” (Phil 4:6), or bestowing platitudes upon God: “O God, Dear Holy Lord, you alone are amazing. Just be with me God. In Jesus’ name. Ah–men.” Even some of our prayer tools (e.g., the ACTS method) restrict prayer. To be clear, these are wonderful prayers, but I want to challenge us to expand the horizons of our prayer. We learn with training wheels, but eventually, we take them off.
Prayer is so much more than we make it:
Prayer is delight, and prayer is lament.
It is requesting and receiving;
Gratitude and thanksgiving.
It is wonder and frustration.
Prayer revels in the beauty of creation, and groans under the weight of its brokenness.
It is boisterous merrymaking, and wordless agony.
It is walking hand in hand with your daughter in the chill October air;
It is holding space for your spouse’s pain;
It is harmonizing with your son in song;
It is attentive presence to your child’s story.
Prayer is seeking, and it is finding. And it is seeking again.
It is imprecation, celebration, lamentation, and contemplation.
It is confession and absolution;
Supplication and adoration.
It is intimate conversation with a friend.
It is the language of wholeness, the melody of shalom.
Prayer is union with God.
Spend a few minutes reflecting on what you have come to believe about prayer. Has it changed over time?
Open my eye that I might behold your wonder.
Omniscient Creator, willing Redeemer, ever-present Sustainer,
the glory of goodness and the vastness of beauty
flow unendingly from your throne.
You attend to every detail
upholding the cosmos
moment by moment
breath by breath
and yet I fail to see.
I dull my senses
living in the mundane
failing to notice your manifold works
the pervasiveness of your beauty.
My interest is lukewarm.
I neglect your presence in the sensate world.
Teach me, O Spirit, to attend with wonder
to the expansiveness of your creation
remembering that you, O LORD,
are present in all things beautiful.
Awe came upon every soul–Acts 2:43a
O Sovereign Protector,
The world is full of dangers, which threaten at every turn.
The complex effects of the fall invade every facet of our existence.
We witness breakdown every day,
of physical health
of the church itself.
And still, LORD, you are unwavering and whole.
Grant me courage for the day ahead
to live so fully in the security of your love for me
that I can say what must be said
and do what must be done.
I am often overrun by fears,
but you say, O LORD, that the righteous
are bold as a lion.
May I be ruled, not by anxieties,
but by love.
Let it be.
I am aware of so many sinful tendencies within myself,
lusts of the flesh,
They crowd out the God-life.
I end up pursuing ten-thousand things that do not glorify you.
I live for self and fail to love.
Life becomes about satisfying my passions
and fulfilling my comforts.
So overwhelm me with your Holy Spirit
that I am left with no option
but to radiate peace, goodness and beauty.
I can offer nothing to you
except my disintegrated self.
The worries of the world,
temptations and lusts,
continually batter my soul–
useless on their own,
yet you, O LORD, are able
to make broken things whole,
to infuse my sinews with grace,
and my bones with steadfast love.
Re-created not just whole
Ten million prayers
hover and fly
and so I try
to focus my thoughts
to talk with my Lord
but they bounce so fast
it seems I get bored
with each thought that enters
seeking my prayer
they clamor for notice
and then they are
gone in a flash
replaced by another
I reached out to grasp it
but then wonder whether
something more urgent
seeks prayerful release
I chase that thought too
but God whispers “Peace
be still from your frenzy
relax in My presence
time spent with Me
that is prayer’s essence.”
God of all power and love,
when my thoughts rage on
anxiety can overwhelm me.
I desire reprieve, but find only…chaos.
But I look in 10,000 places,
except to you.
Yet you surround me with love and power.
All else may be utterly destroyed,
but you, O LORD, will not.
You command stillness in chaos.
When creation is quaking
I can stand still nowhere,
except in the shadow of your wings.
I feel no connection
Like a man trying
to start a fire
with flint and steel
I see sparks
leaving no trace
of their existence
I strike the pieces
but seeing only