Saturday, June 30, 2012

Prayer Part One

If you Google images of prayer you come up with countless images of folded hand and heads bowed.  It is the traditional prayer posture.  The one most of us unconsciously assume when someone utters the word, "Let us pray."  
Because prayer can fall into a rut, I think it is important every few months to examine our prayer practices both personally and corporately as a church.  This week in church, I have revamped the liturgy just a bit to link our call to worship and confession together as one unit.  I do that so hopefully we feel like we are praying our way into worship.
But as our church tries out new forms of entering into worship, it is a good time to also look at our personal prayer life.  Over the next several posts I am going to offer some thoughts on prayer.
To be sure, I am stepping into a living stream of words upon words that have been poured out on this topic.  There are countless books and sermons on this topic.  But hopefully through these posts it will give you something to ponder both for your own faith and for our lived together faith as Christians.

A few of the posts coming up will deal with the fact that Jesus taught a prayer.
Another post will look at Doug Pagitt's book on prayer postures.
Other posts will simply offer a prayer practice for you to engage.

For today, I want to encourage you to pause and think about how you would define prayer to another person.

Is prayer about a petition to God, to get God to do something?
Is prayer naming a reality in your life, a reality God already knows?
Is prayer frustrating at times because you wonder if God really hears or if this time set aside is really making any difference?

I think of prayer as counter-cultural.  In a world that exists 24/7, always on the go, show me what you have produced lately, prayer says an emphatic "NO" to that.  Prayer says that it is not all about me and what I do, prayer is radical trust in God, even when it seems like things are going to hell all around me.  Prayer is best summarized by Psalm 42, especially verse 7, the deep calling to the deep.

If I had to define prayer, I would start with it being the deep within me calling out to the deep within God.

I invite you over the next few days to read and re-read Psalm 42.  Savor it, like you would an ice cream cone on a warm summer day.  What thoughts come into your mind and heart when you read this psalm?  What insights or questions does this psalm awaken when read through the lens of prayer?

Give that some prayerful thought and so will I for my next post.

May the traces of God's grace awaken the deep within you connecting to the deep, abiding presence of God in your life this week.


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