I admit don’t pray very well.
I am okay when I have my own private prayers because I will just speak my mind without much thought about structure or form. I wouldn’t think of what I should say, I will just speak my mind and from the heart, sometimes casual and sometimes formal.
But when I pray in public or when I attend prayer meetings, I get quite stressed up as I don’t usually know what to say. I do know what to pray for, especially since it’s a prayer request. I just don’t know how to pray it.
I also hold the view that we do not treat prayer like a wishing well, asking only for things we want, or reminding God to keep his promises, as if he needs any reminding.
So to the very core of it, I do not really understand prayer. To me, God already knows what’s best and will give us his best, whether in a form of a blessing or discipline, he knows what is best for us.
So then, why and what do I pray?
I pray because it’s commanded by God and so I do it. But what do I pray about. I am not exactly sure and so other than taking on how Jesus taught us to pray, I would just speak my mind and my heart.
I also began to see what books I have on prayer and found I this in my stash.
Praying Backwards, Transform Your Prayer Life by Beginning in Jesus’ Name
by Bryan Chapell
I have just started reading it and I like it. I do not want to rush through it and thought I’d read it bit by bit to learn and practice as I go.
Here are some gems so far from the Introduction and first portion of the first chapter:
When we pray “in Jesus’ name,” we pray for his sake more than our own. We still present our desires and concerns to God, but we do so in the context of yielding our priorities to Christ’s priorities.
In this fallen world you cannot avoid suffering; you can have peace in the midst of it. You cannot avoid trials; you can have confidence of their purpose. You cannot bind God by your prayers; you can guarantee his blessing. You cannot direct the will of God; you can pray according to his will and rest in the assurance of his love. You can pray knowing that God will marshal the powers of heaven to accomplish on earth all he knows is best for your eternity. Praying in Jesus’ name is the key.
We approach the throne of grace without the burden of our sin and with the righteousness of our Savior. We ask for his blessing based on God’s wisdom, not ours. We trust in his faithfulness, not in the adequacy of our faith.
I especially like what Chapell says here: We trust in his faithfulness, not in the adequacy of our faith.
I always berate myself for not praying enough, for not reading his Word enough, for not keeping close to God enough, and I realized I have been depending a lot on what I have done or not done to keep this relationship with God, when at the end of it all, it is God himself who first sought me, and who first call to fellowship and commune with me.
So the next time when I am reminded to pray or read the Bible or just to be in his presence, I must not do it in guilt that I have not done enough, but to simply be there with the ever-present Emmanuel, God who is with us, who is with me.