Yesterday, I shared some of C.S. Lewis’ reflections as a way to springboard on the ways we overemphasize our prayer “methods” and “protocol” to give prayer a greater credence to ourselves and others. After writing it, I wondered, “I hope the readers don’t think that I am discounting prayer itself or the Biblically stressed importance to pray!”
I believe in prayer. I believe God wants us and invites us to pray. I am thankful for the many books and models of prayer that have helped me to encounter God – and I’ve read more books about prayer in the past year than I have in the past 10 years! I believe that God powerfully answers prayer. And I personally spend more time in prayer than I do with any other spiritual practice.
What I am reacting to are the issues of prayer that my “false self” latches onto. Like praying to be heard and seen by others. Like using prayer as some sort of “power play” with people and with God. Like creating man-made hierarchies, structures, and methods that discourage the “less enlightened” to pray.
At the heart of all this is my personal desire to turn the emphasis of prayer around: from being about me and how I pray, to being about God – the One I pray to.
That’s where the power of prayer is found: in God, not in methods or approaches or well-fashioned words.
It’s not the way the request is said, it is the Subject to whom our request is made.
God is amazingly loving, amazingly strong, amazingly wise, amazingly truthful (well, He is Truth – but I use this term because our concept of “truth” is incredibly tainted), amazingly wonder-full, and amazingly in control (“sovereign”). I also find that God is amazingly funny, surprising, playful, and … sneaky! (A topic for another blog)
But the only way we experience these amazing qualities of God is through prayer.
In Scripture we can read about these qualities and we can begin to comprehend (somewhat) these qualities, but it is only through the experience of prayer and life do we really experience, grasp, and apprehend who God really is.
It’s almost as if our “request” before God is secondary to our “encounter” with God. But our requests are important in their own right. Our requests are vehicles that reveal our heart, as well as our need. And how God responds to our requests, not only changes our reality, but also woos us into a greater revelation of Himself.
I remember praying with a pastor at a neighboring African American church at a Saturday morning prayer meeting in our church. I could tell this brother loved the Lord. In his prayer, he said simply, “God.” And then a long, holy pause. That was it.
It moved me to tears. In fact, we both were weeping – for joy! Nothing more needed to be said in that moment. God responded. He was there with us. As the song goes, “Your presence here is the answer to the longing of our hearts.”
In fact, I’m feeling His presence right now as I reflect on that memory. Maybe you’re feeling it, too.
The power is in the Subject Who is over our requests.