Lent 06: Day 9

Dear God. Regular, consistent, prayer is hard. I would find it hard to talk at length with anyone every day. I am not sure why, but as I look back at my life I find this to be true. It is easier when there is something interesting to discuss, since the give and take of a dialog brings with it its own energy.

However, prayer is primarily one sided. Yes, I try to listen for that still small voice, but that is hard also. It may have been easier in ancient times when things were quieter. Prayer is not really the conversation I wish it were, but then I am probably avoiding the real meaning of prayer and wishing it were a conversation around the dinner table my wife and I sometimes have with friends.

No. No matter what some people try to prattle on about, prayer is not a conversation with God. Prayer is many things but I would strongly argue that prayer is not that.

Why, you ask? Mostly because conversations are too casual to be real prayer. Well, you say, if you are going argue that tell me your definition of prayer. OK. Here is the definition of prayer from an online dictionary site.

1 a. A reverent petition made to God, a god, or another object of worship.
b. The act of making a reverent petition to God, a god, or another object of worship.
2. An act of communion with God, a god, or another object of worship, such as in devotion, confession, praise, or thanksgiving: One evening a week, the family would join together in prayer.
3. A specially worded form used to address God, a god, or another object of worship.
4. A religious observance in which praying predominates: morning prayers.
5. a. A fervent request: Her prayer for rain was granted at last.
b. The thing requested: His safe arrival was their only prayer.
6. The slightest chance or hope: In a storm the mountain climbers won’t have a prayer.

[Middle English preiere, from Old French, from Medieval Latin precria, from feminine of Latin precrius, obtained by entreaty, from precr, to entreat; see pray.]

Let’s see, we have as the main applicable elements:

reverence
petitions
devotion
confession
praise
thanksgiving
fervent request
specially worded
religious observance

It is not easy to be reverently devoted, filled with praise and thanksgiving, while being willing to ask for help and admit wrong, Not easy at all.

Also, one reason I think people shy away from the discipline of prayer and people like myself have serious difficulties sustaining any consistent prayer life is that it is really hard work. Very hard work.

Speaking of hard work, my day is catching up with me and my brain is shutting down. Tomorrow (Saturday) I will write in the morning and maybe I will have all of my faculties then.

Grace and peace to your day and may God grant us the strength we need to begin to sustain a disciplined prayer life.

  1 comment for “Lent 06: Day 9

  1. Paul O'Rear
    March 13, 2006 at 2:46 pm

    Bill – you state:

    “Prayer is not really the conversation I wish it were, but then I am probably avoiding the real meaning of prayer and wishing it were a conversation around the dinner table my wife and I sometimes have with friends.”

    It’s one thing to look up in the dictionary for what prayer is, and another thing to hear from our contemporary church what prayer is, but what is it that God actually desires of us from prayer? Where do we look for ‘the real meaning of prayer’? I’m not arguing that prayer is not work, but what is the basis for saying that prayer is work? (Beyond the writings of many ‘saints’ since Christ.) i.e. what are our biblical proof texts for what prayer should really look like?

    I share the same desire for the conversational quality of prayer with God, and it’s something that I believe I largely experienced at least in a ‘sense’ sort of way as opposed to words. It’s the disappearance of that sense over the last several years of my life that has made it seem as though God were more distant. The plus side of the quietness is that it keeps one looking into things deeper and deeper.

    Back when I was in college, I had a poster that struck me though I’m not sure I fully grasped it at the time – it said “I’ve trusted you with My words, Can I trust you with My silence?” or something very similar to that.

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