Friday, January 29, 2010

Soul Surgery (& Prayer)

This week we're starting a three week series of messages looking at prayer.  I'll just be straight-up here and confess that prayer has never come easy for me.  That's not to say that I neglect talking to God, which I do quite often through the course of the day.  But prayer is not something that comes easily to me like breathing, walking or craving a chocolate chip cookie.  Perhaps I have spiritual ADHD.  Prayer often feels like more effort than it's supposed to be.   The father of the Reformation, Martin Luther, supposedly said, “I have so much to do that I shall spend the first three hours (of each day) in prayer."  I can't really imagine that kind of daily prayer focus.  When I pray for more than about 20 minutes, I get irritated, bored, and doubtful.  I start thinking, right in the middle of talking to the Almighty Creator of Everything, "I've got things to do.  Gotta run!"  That's not what you want your pastor saying about prayer, is it?  

I suspect that there are a lot of other followers of Jesus who are like me.  Charles Spurgeon, an English Baptist preacher in the mid and late 1800's, preached 130 sermons about prayer.  Is it possible that Spurgeon preached about prayer so often because he knew it's hard for the average person to pray?  I long to be someone who can relate to/with God like Moses in Exodus 33,  "The Lord would speak to Moses face to face, as a man speaks with his friend."  How great would that be?  

The more I think and even (gasp) pray about my prayer problem, the more I've come to realize that it is my misunderstanding of prayer that's the real trouble.  Even though I know better, I still tend to pray as if it's all about me telling God what I think he should be doing.  I may couch my prayers in a respectful formula (ie, the old ACTS prayer recipe . . . A=Adoration, C=Confession, T-Thanksgiving, S=Supplication - ah! At last supplication where I get to what I want!), but the truth is, I see prayer as all about me.  That, I fear, is the real trouble with my prayer life.  And so that's part of the reason I decided to preach on the Lord's Prayer this week (on the left side of this blog you can see the other sermons coming up).   I figure Jesus must know how to do this prayer thing pretty well, so that when he teaches us to pray he probably knows what he's talking about.  I like how straight forward he is about prayer and that he says, "...don't babble like the pagans because it's really annoying to my Father..." (my paraphrase, but that's actually what Jesus says). 

In worship this week we will unpack this most amazing prayer and try to tear off most of our preconceptions and misconceptions, and get a clear view of what Jesus is teaching.  One peculiarly fascinating possibility is that Jesus' prayer had a lot to do with the Hebrew Exodus story as the Jews were delivered from Egypt.  Could the Lord's Prayer be a later development of praying through our own deliverance from the things that enslave us?  That's one possibility we might explore.  
- Curtis  

1 comment:

  1. I have only recently learned that praying for something for yourself (ie: wisdom, health, help with dealing with someone, money) IS alright. When I was a kid I learned somewhere that one should not pray for ones self - it's selfish. I learned we are to pray for others only. Since I got rid of these erroneous beliefs I pray to God about everything all the time. I "talk" to him everywhere as if He were standing right next to me. I sing to Him as worship, I say little things like "thank you for that call God, I really needed it", etc. I talk to him as as if He were my friend standing right in front of me. I don't know if there is a specific "formula" for prayer Biblically. I know many many churches, pastors, religions have them and it's always turned me off of it. How can someone tell me how to talk to MY GOD!? It's like someone telling me how or what to say to my husband. Ridiculous. I believe "prayer" is anything relating to the talking of our Lord. It can be short bursts "I really need a parking space here Lord" or long deep meditative hours on hours prayer (prayer for the needs of others, meditation, etc.). I think He's just happy we remember He's there and the shorts are okay as long as we remember the meditative prayers as well where we remember the needs of others and remember to worship Him and what he's done for us.


Thanks for posting!