May 07, 2003

I'm doing some grappling with the New Testament theology of prayer these days, mostly as a result of my own roller coaster prayer life. I know I'm supposed to pray...but I have to confess that deep down inside I don't really want to pray. Terrible, isn't it? I'm fairly convinced though that a lot of us feel this way.

(Why do I have the feeling that not wanting to pray when times are good will lead to finding little or no comfort in prayer when times are bad? Are they both symptoms, perhaps, of the same disease?)

Anyway...I thought the best place to begin would be the Sermon on the Mount:

"And when you come before God, don't turn that into a theatrical production either. All those people making a regular show out of their prayers, hoping for stardom! Do you think God sits in a box seat?

"Here's what I want you to do: Find a quiet, seculded place so you won't be tempted to role-play before God. Just be there as simply and honestly as you can manage. The focus will shift from you to God, and you will begin to sense his grace.

"The world is full of so-called prayer warriors who are prayer-ignorant. They're full of formulas and programs and advice, peddling techniques for getting what you want from God. Don't fall for that nonsense. This is your Father you are dealing with, nd he knows better than you what you need. With a God like this loving you, you can pray very simply. Like this:

"'Our Father in heaven,
Reveal who you are.
Set the wrold right;
Do what's best --
as above, so below.
Keep us alive with three square meals.
Keep us forgiven with you and forgiving others.
Keep us safe from ourselves and the Devil.
You're in charge!
You can do anything you want!
You're ablaze in beauty!
Yes. Yes. Yes.'"

(From The Message Mt 6:5-13)

So...what to make of all this? I'm not sure yet...but the more I meditate on this passage, the greater my sense that my praying is all wrong.


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