I remember being intimidated by prayer and in some settings I still am. I would sit in church or in a prayer meeting and feel inadequate as I listened to the beautifully articulated prayers of others. I marveled at how easily they moved between various topics and how they seemed to touch the heart of God in ways I couldn’t even fathom. I also remember being bored when prayers stretched longer than expected or needed. I remember tuning out when public prayers turned into mini-sermons aimed at us instead of God. I remember feeling that my prayers would be judged or corrected. One night in my late teens I was driving home from a Bible Study of college-aged peers. I was frustrated that my prayers did not rise to the level of others. My prayer that night was – “Lord, teach me to pray.”
It’s not that I didn’t pray or know the basics. However, my informal and conversational style of personal prayer seemed miles apart from what I heard from others. The answer that I received from my prayer unfolded over many years. There are still times when group prayer is uncomfortable as I struggle to find the best words to express the prayer that is my heart. My mind still wanders when the prayers of others stretch beyond the need or become mini-sermons. The things I have learned along the way, however, has made my personal prayers vital, relevant, and effective. They are often on the go prayers, brief flashes of connecting with God in the joys, struggles, challenges, and needs of the moment.
I like to think of prayer as being like trail mix. That portable high energy food hikers use while they walk through the wilderness. It is often a combination of nuts, dried fruit, honey, and chocolate chunks; each handful similar but different. Other Bible studies have excellent plans for those moments when we can sit and pray. This series is not designed to teach you how to fill an hour of quiet time. Nor will it demonstrate how to craft beautiful public prayers. It won’t teach you how to get anything you want from God. My hope and prayer is that this series will encourage heart prayers that meet the command in Scripture to pray without ceasing. That prayer would no longer be relegated to a few minutes in the morning and at the dinner table, or wait until the next prayer meeting, or only whispered in the moment of crisis. But that we would all partake and be energized with moment by moment connection with God as each day unfolds.
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