by The Old Scot
Last month I asked you to think about your favorite characteristic of the God to whom you pray.
This month I'd like to talk about the nature of praying. So here are my questions: How do you pray and what do you pray about?
How Do You Pray?
Some feel it is most appropriate to converse with God in "holy language"-maybe even replete with "Thees" and "Thous." And that's fine. Some, perhaps, are more comfortable borrowing prayers from books. And that's fine, too. In the end, I suppose, it is a personal conviction of how best to enter into God's presence and converse with Deity.
For myself, I want to be able to come to Him at any time, in any mood: when I am happy, or sad, or hurt, or blue, or even angry. Somehow, talking it all out with God takes me out of myself a bit, and gives me a better perspective.
It was Brother Lawrence, a 17th century lay brother in a French monastery, who taught that serving God is in the little things as well as the great, and who gave us the principles recorded in The Practice of the Presence of God-a wonderful little book for every age. He showed us that it is possible to be in constant communication with our Father. I think of it as having an open phone line always by my ear. God doesn't have to be constantly communicating, nor do I. It is enough that the line is always open.
(Please do not think that I have mastered this form of prayer. I am working at it, and I believe with all my heart it is well-worth developing. Brother Lawrence said that it took him years to reach the point where no matter how busy he was in the monastery kitchen, he was always aware of God's presence with him. That's awesome!)
What Should We Pray About?
Remembering that we Christians are-all of us-still spiritual children, we should not be surprised if most of us think mostly of ourselves when we pray. Our prayers tend to center on petitions: We ask for our needs and our wants; we bring our complaints and resentments to our Father, hoping He will mend our world and make it smooth again.
This is perfectly natural. It is what babies do, and about all they do, at first. Later, as their horizons broaden to include others, their interests will broaden also. Just so, as spiritual babes begin to grow up, our prayers become not so centered on ourselves, and we begin including the needs of others, and gradually reach out in our prayers to encompass the needs of our personal family, then our church family, and eventually the church around the world and the whole world. This is grand petitioning, and I believe it delights the heart of God when we pray thus unselfishly.
But there is yet a vital dimension lacking in these prayers. They are still only petitions-and there is so much beyond petitions which we should be praying about.
The Dimension of Praise
When we pray about our loved ones, we need to remember that our heavenly Father is chief among that number. So when we talk things over with Him, gratitude and thankfulness should be first in our hearts and first on our lips.
David, the sweet singer of ancient Israel, reminds us that God "inhabits the praises of Israel" (Ps. 22:3). I take this to mean that the highest possible form of prayer occurs when we come to the Father and tell Him in the language of love how we adore Him. Our God, who is love, loves to hear His children express their love in return. The Bible also tells us "praise is comely" (Ps. 33:1)-that is, our praise of God makes us beautiful in His sight! How wonderful!
Therefore, it is good for us to come into His presence with love and joy in our hearts and praises to His mighty name on our lips!
Your fellow pilgrim and sojourner,
The Old Scot