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Learning to Pray

October 3, 2011
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Here’s how it begins: somewhere in my day I begin to seize up in anxiety, bewildered and befuddled I rapidly descend into the worst form of pride, self-pity. In all my years as a disciple of Jesus, I must confess, I have learned very slowly to go to prayer – self-pity is a hard habit to break. Self-pity (or navel-gazing, as it has been appropriately termed) takes me into dark introspection and willful attempts to fix my heart. In all this navel-gazing and willfulness anxiety remains, urging my soul beyond itself.

It is anxiety that takes me firmly by the hand and leads me to the door. I knock, thoughts swirling in my head too rapidly to pin down in any meaningful sort of petition. So I mostly just start rambling as the door opens. I quickly grab a seat, not yet noticing my surroundings, or even Who I am speaking to for that matter. I say things I don’t really mean and I mean things that I don’t really say. But somewhere in this process I settle…

Patiently He waits.

And then it comes, bubbling up from the dark corners of my psyche, the truth. I say it. Say it from the heart. Once it is said, I usually say, “yes, yes that is exactly what I wanted to say.”

He hears me.

In my experience with prayer, God doesn’t speak back to me the way my wife does, or my boss, or anyone I know for that matter. It’s not audible. It’s not in English (and for those of you who may be wondering, it’s not in tongues of angels either). I am not in any way led to run around announcing “thus saith the LORD.” Nor do I have “voices in my head.” But if I am patient I find that my heart settles with a distinct sense that I have heard Him speak.

It is a speaking that is direct, bypassing the material pathways of accessing the core of my being, accomplishing the same things audible or written words do but without the words themselves.

His speaking is content rich, taking me much time to unpack cognitively, what my heart has received intuitively.

His speaking is intensely personal, always a real response to my petitions, and not some generic computerized messaging system feebly attempting to direct my call.

A few things His speaking never is: new revelation (like that Jesus came to America shortly after He rose from the grave), contrary to what He has already revealed in His Word, abusive, cruel, frightening, burdensome, or wrathful. Nor is it something that would bring harm to anyone else (I am thinking here mainly of the guy who breaks up with his girlfriend because “God told him to” rather than being honest with her about the obvious fact that he is bored of her and wants to move on to greener pastures, always an easy cop out to blame it on God, I mean at this point what can she say really? I digress).

I am ever so slowly learning the language of prayer; to speak my heart and to hear His.

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. Marshall permalink
    October 3, 2011 10:33 pm

    Excellent brother excellent. This piece really struck a chord with me. I wish everyone could understand how beautiful and impactful praying really is.

  2. Bryce Keating permalink
    October 4, 2011 4:34 pm

    that last sentence hits like a hammer. so good.

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