Prayer (Week 3)

8 Aug

We are continuing to go through Mark Batterson’s book “The Circle Maker.” In the second section of the book Batterson says that prayer is a habit to be cultivated, a discipline to be developed, and a skill to be practiced. Habits, disciplines, and skills take real effort. That pursuit starts with this prayer…

“The prayer preceding all prayer is ‘May it be the real I who speaks. May it be the real Thou that I speak to.'” (C.S. Lewis)

There are two questions to ask yourself in prayer. First, ‘is it I that am praying?’ or ‘is it a carefully scripted version of myself that I believe God approves of?’ And second, ‘am I praying to God or a sanitized version of Him that I approve of?’

Real I
There are generally two versions of ourself that the world sees. There is the public persona that work colleagues, drive through workers, and acquaintances see. Then there is the more personal version that our close friends and family sees. However, as Philip Yancey notes, there is your true self that no one sees–all those secret things you live with. Those motives. Those thoughts. That past guilt. That hurt. These are the things that often go unsaid to the public and, sadly, to God. We are good at repressing those things and treating God as if he were a general acquaintance. We make awkward small talk with Him and never go further. Some move past that and let God in a little closer and give him access to our frustrations, joys, and daily life the way we would with a family member. But very few interact with God as their true self. We approach God with carefully rehearsed sincerity but never from a place of purity. This is a tragedy. Often we complain about not feeling God’s presence. I wonder if God too longs for our true presence. I wonder if God is waiting to heal the broken places in our soul but we don’t give him access. True prayer happens when you get honest with God. The posture of prayer is helplessness. Everyone has dark corners of the soul. God wants admittance into those areas to mend that which is broken. (Read Psalm 139)

Real Thou
Blaise Pascal said, “God made man in His own image and man returned the compliment.” Last week we talked about the importance of your view of God. If we have a misconception of God, our prayer will be greatly impacted. If we believe God to be a malevolent dictator in the sky that issues punishment with calloused anger, our prayers will be shaped by that. The “real thou” that Lewis speaks of will not be boxed in. He can not be contained and will not fit any mold we put him him. I believe one of the major problems in prayer is doubt. We don’t trust that God is what the Bible says He is. We doubt even his existence. The problem is that this feeling is tucked away in that dark corner of the soul that we don’t give God access to. Yancey says that he often challenges atheists and agnostics to come up with a doubt that they can’t find in the pages of the Bible. So many great biblical characters wrestle with doubt. The difference between their doubt and ours is that they voice theirs in the form of prayer. They pray to the God they feel is absent or silent. They persist. God loves their prayer because it is real. (Read Psalm 13)

Batterson challenges us to persist in prayer. He says the only way to lose is to stop praying. Pray to God as you are. Pray to God as He is.

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