By Pastor Bob Myers
Prayer itself is a great gift to us. God never isolates Himself from us. Today the staff that seeks to serve you at Covenant church “zoomed” a prayer meeting. Yesterday at noon Larry Rankin, Mary Elzinga, and Rob Bloss led us in a discussion and prayer time about praying. Tonight, Jonathan Fitt and I will lead a time of praying for your requests through livestream. ( Join in Here at 7pm. )
We know that approaching God in prayer is our greatest privilege and most powerful help.
One of the most prayerful people I’ve known once said that anyone who acts like they have prayer all figured out scared him. Prayer is in essence communion with God. You can have wordless prayers. You can also have word-filled prayerlessness. Prayer is a little child, confidently emboldened to climb his father’s lap and speak heart to heart knowing that what he shares will be heard.
Here’s some helpful thoughts I’ve gleaned on prayer from a couple books by Wheaton College Professor, David Benner. Instead of a review, let me just share some of the quotes that I wrote down for myself to ponder and practice. One is a book called Life as Prayer and the other is a book called, The Gift of Being Yourself. Neither are recent books. These quotes are like hard candy, best consumed slowly.
"We do not pray so that we can get God's attention. We pray so that God will get our attention."
"Genuine self-knowledge begins by looking at God and noticing how God is looking at us."
"Teresa of Avila says that the important thing in prayer is not to think much but to love much. The head is not a bad place to start our prayer journey. But if prayer stays there too long and does not begin to sink to the heart, it will inevitably become arid and frustrating."
“We cannot attain the presence of God. We’re already totally in the presence of God. What’s absent is awareness."
"Contemplative prayer is not so much a type of prayer as something that should be a component of all prayer. It is the silence and space for stillness before God that supports genuine presence and openness to God . . . Sadly, it is this contemplative dimension that is most lacking from prayer. Communal prayer seldom leaves sufficient space for stillness before God in silence. Even liturgical prayer often leaves inadequate space for silence, and non-liturgical worship experiences are, of course, usually infamously devoid of silence. Intentional times of personal prayer are often rushed and reduced to the basics of petitions, intercession and possibly an expression or two of gratitude. All this is certainly worthy of being called prayer. But lacking the contemplative dimension, it is not holistic prayer and it will not be transformational."
"Paradoxically, as we become more and more like Christ, we become more uniquely our own true self”.
"Created from love, of love and for love, our existence makes no sense apart from Divine love."
“Watch particularly for traces of God in other people. Since humans are that part of creation most directly reflecting the divine image and likeness, it should be here that we most readily sense traces of God. Cultivate the spiritual habit of looking through Spirit-filled eyes at those you encounter and watching for Jesus. Recall that he said that he is there - particularly in those most broken and least likely to be suspected of bearing the Christ within their being. Watching for the presence of God in others will change the way you relate to them as you begin to see yourself surrounded by bearers of our Lord's presence in the world."
The best way to learn to pray is not to read a book, but to devote yourself by drawing near to God. He promises, without any other conditions or restrictions, to draw near to us.