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My Prayer Life, or Lack of

Posted by thethousandmarch on October 26, 2009 at 4:08 PM

     My prayer life is rather pitiful, at least I think it is. I’ve struggled with prayer for years. Recently I had a number of realizations about my prayer life and so I’d like to share them. If you’ve got some wisdom to share with me, please do. If you are like me and don’t pray much, and feel guilty about it, then maybe my experience of mostly failure will make you feel better.

     I don’t pray much. Many days I don’t pray at all. My wife was about five months pregnant before it even occurred to me to pray for my future daughter. I’ve committed myself to praying for multiple missionaries, a Bibleless tribe in Mexico (which is now in the process of translating the Bible into their language), some poor children and their families in third world countries, and I’m sure there are some other things I’m forgetting right now. Months ago I committed to praying every day for President Obama – I had forgotten about that one until just the other day. I usually neglect my commitments. I don’t do it on purpose. I try to remember. I try to pray. Most the time I just don’t have a clue what I’m supposed to be doing.

     That’s one of my problems. A lot of what seems to be the reasoning behind prayer doesn’t make any sense to me. There are two parables which people constantly refer to, one being the parable of the unjust judge () the other being the parable of . But, the real point of both of those parables is that God loves you and wants to take care of you – we don’t have to annoy him into acting on our behalf. Most people seem to think that if we want God to do something for us, we need to badger him every day at least, and we need to get as many other people as we can to badger him on our behalf. I don’t believe God is a stingy tyrant who just gives us stuff just so we will leave him alone for a while. So, I don’t really know why I’m praying every day for the same stuff.

     I do believe that we are supposed to bring our cares and concerns to God because he loves us. I do believe that God sometimes waits on us before he acts. There are two ways in which this may work. He may at times not help us until we actually turn to him and asks for help. And, he may not fix all the world’s problems, because we humans need to actually develop compassion and love for one another.

     This leads me to one point I want to make. I’m starting to understand why I should pray for oppressed and marginalized people. It’s so I will actually develop love and compassion for them. It’s not that God doesn’t already care about them. But, he wants me to care. I do care, but it’s easy for me to get caught up with my own cares and concerns and selfishness. By taking the time to regularly remember people who barely have enough food to eat and their babies are dying of malnutrition and easily curable diseases, I might actually change the way I live. Then I might start to be the means by which God takes care of others.

     Something I recently realized about my prayer life is that what I really want is to know what boxes I have to check each day so that I can feel like I’ve taken care of my religious obligation to pray each day. Then, not only will I not have to feel guilty anymore, but also I can then feel like I’m a good Christian. This is a horrible attitude – I didn’t really know that this was part of my attitude towards prayer until just a couple of weeks ago. Hopefully I can now start to get free of this.

     Finally, I really want to feel like I’m experiencing God when I pray. I want to have some spiritual (emotional actually) experience. It’s been years since prayer has been emotionally satisfying for me. My relationship with God has felt dry and distant for at least ten years. But, it hasn’t really been dry. I’ve learned and grown immensely during that time. God has taught me so much. One of the things he has taught me is faith. I have experienced God in remarkable ways. These experiences were not emotional, but I knew by faith that God was present. Still, I want to experience “spiritual highs”. I want to feel comforted. Instead I usually feel like God is somewhere else and I’m just talking to myself. But, I hear that Martin Luther thought that God is most active when he is most remote. That’s the theology of the cross.


Categories: Grace, God, Prayer