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Seeking Things Above

If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. (Col 3:1)

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The Lord's Prayer - Teach Us to Pray

There are quite a few spiritual disciplines where I struggle.  One of them, a rather important one, is prayer.  I don't struggle all the time and I don't struggle in all kinds of prayer.  But overall I have to rate my prayer life a C- at best.

I have no problems praying out loud in a group.  However, I can always find an excuse to not pray out loud when it's just me and my wife.  It makes no sense.

I am terrible when it comes to prayer lists.  Often as I read the requests it feels like I'm just reading a list off to God and it's not coming from my heart.  Sometimes, a certain request will resonate with me and it will feel more personal.  However, it's inconsistent and the next time I read through the list I may feel nothing.  This leads to not bothering to read through the list at all.

At night as I lay down to sleep, if I'm having trouble getting to sleep all I have to do is start praying.  The next thing you know, I'm out like a light.  I sometimes do the same thing with my wife at night.  I don't know if either my wife or God appreciate my dozing off in the middle of our conversations.  The spirit is willing but the flesh is weak.

So what do I do about this spiritual weakness? 

I'm going to try to go back to the basics.  What better place to start than the prayer given by Jesus to his disciples when they too may have been struggling with prayer.
Luke 11:1 (ESV)
1 Now Jesus was praying in a certain place, and when he finished, one of his disciples said to him, "Lord, teach us to pray, as John taught his disciples."
Jesus' disciples came to Him and asked that He teach them to pray.  Did they want Jesus to teach them because they wanted to be more like the disciples of John the Baptist?  Or, did they see Jesus often go off by himself and pray for hours to the Father and did they desire that kind of relationship with God that Jesus modeled for them everyday.

Why do I want learn to pray?  Is it so I can become a prayer warrior?  Or am I really craving a closer relationship with my Father?

I hope it's the latter.

Join me on this series of posts as I search my own heart and look at the prayer that Jesus gave to His disciples when they asked Him, "Lord, teach us to pray."


brad said...

I could have wrote every word of this post. I can relate completely and based on my conversations with other people I know we are not alone.

In an interview about his book on prayer, PRAYER: DOES IT MAKE ANY DIFFERENCE?, Philip Yancey was asked this question: "How has the way you’ve come to prayer changed over your lifetime?"

I really like his answer:
"Prayer has moved from this transactional approach to what I call “keeping company with God.” I have felt a lowering of the boundaries between prayer and the rest of my life. I see it more as a way of meditating through the day with God, who is always available and eager for our attention. We have to “tune in,” of course, and that takes attention and some discipline.

Along the way, I’ve become more relaxed about prayer. Some people ask me whether they’re “doing it right.” As I say in the book, if you’re doing it, you’re doing it right. In my research I’ve encountered a wide variety of styles and approaches, fitting with various personality styles and temperaments."

Prayer is at the heart of being a Christ follower. It is at the very heart of our personal relationship with God. Much like our human relationship, especially marriage, communication is everything. In depth conversations with our spouses are important, but so are the little things said throughout the day as life happens. So are the non-verbal things between us, the smiles, the gestures, the one word reactions, the thoughts that pop into our heads at the same time, and just hanging, keeping company.

Looking forward to your series.

Mandy said...

I find that I converse with God throughout the day, but when I am really wanting to focus and listen to God I have to write it out. Otherwise, my mind wanders too easily - like you said about falling asleep. For me, if I start writing out my prayer, I can stay focused on it. I have really been able to pour myself out to God in writing, and He has responded to me deeply. He has also answered me when I am just talking to him, but I usually start talking in circles and babbling - like I am now. :) I guess I can babble in writing, too.

Larry and Jennifer Darnell said...

Tony, share your thoughts on prayer as well. It is something that seems so easy but is a challenge.

I only wish I could fall asleep when I am praying at night (a little insomnia...).

I will be looking forward to more of your insights on it. No matter where we are in our walk, we can all be taught how to pray again.



Tony said...

Brad - thanks. I would sure like to get to where Yancy is talking about on a regular basis.

Mandy - I love're prayer life inspires me.

Larry - I also recommend NT Wright for insomnia. :) Not that the book isn't interesting but 4-5 pages and I can't keep my eyes open. Maybe it's me...

brad said...

no Tony it is not you :)

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