I have to say, I was completely encouraged today when I read through Pastor Pete Wilson’s blogpost, I Stink At Prayer (http://withoutwax.tv/2008/04/07/i-stink-at-prayer/). “Encouraged” because, that’s me, man. I mean, if there’s public praying to be done, I promise you, I am not your guy. Not that I can’t or that I dislike it or get stage fright or something. But there’s something about my public prayers that’s just…well…disjointed, is probably a good word.
There are certain people I’ve encountered throughout my life who are awesome prayers. I mean seriously, they say just the right thing, in just the right way. The content is perfect. The length is perfect. And the language they use is that perfect balance between approachability and poetic. You know what I mean. Our pastor at Corner-Stone Church, Pastor Darrel Rewis, is one of those people. Just a natural gift for it, it seems.
That, however, is not me. I have wished to be a prayer like that, but it just doesn’t fall naturally to me.
One of the great praying pastors who specifically stands out for me is Bro. Curtis Hammond, who (now retired) mentored me many moons ago as a young man of God, and led the Freedom Church of God flock for many, many years. I’ve had other people at Freedom say to me “Now that man can really pray”. And yes he could…Brother Hammond could for sure, flat out pray. When he prayed, I could just imagine God saying to the angels “Now boys, that’s how it’s done.”
So what’s a guy to do? I mean, if you’re going to be a Christian, you kindof have to pray. And if you’re just not that fluid at it in public (like me), well then that might really be a sore spot for you. So I started asking myself some basic questions. Maybe you’re asking yourself some of the same questions:
· What is a “good prayer”?
· What is my goal, when I pray?
· Can someone learn to pray? Isn’t that fake?
Frankly, I think I could write a book on this. But to scratch the surface, these were the (beginning) answers that made sense to me. See if they speak to you too.
What is a “good prayer”? Well there are lots of possible descriptions, but I think it all comes down to one word. “Love”. When we pray beyond ourselves (not that we can’t pray for our own issues), we tap into one of the real essential driving forces, of Jesus. Selfless compassion for those around us.
What is my goal, when I pray? This ties back to question number 1, but also…when I ask this, I also have to ask “How often do I ask God for something when I pray?” I believe God honors the requests that we bring before Him, but am I also compelled to just ramble on about His goodness, sometimes? We use God as our own little genie in a bottle so often, that we don’t even think about it, until we stop and look. Maybe I need to realign my focus for some of my prayers.
Can someone learn to pray? Isn’t that fake? This is touchy. The answer to the first part is an obvious “yes”. Jesus said in Matthew 6:9-13, “This is how you pray.” So yes, God is cool with us breaking it down into learnable chunks. Jesus actually encourages us to do what He does!
Is that fake? Well, it depends. Kind of back to “What is your goal?” I think we should ask ourselves “Why do I want to be a better public prayer?” Is it to impress the deacons? Is it to practice our public speaking skills? Is it to have a platform to express our thoughts? Is it to reach out to the lost, more effectively? Is it to skillfully praise our Creator?
In a nutshell, I look at it like, I want to learn how to publicly pray in a way that both, honors God AND speaks to the body in a relevant manner. And I think a conscious effort to improve my public delivery is perfectly acceptable, even desirable, to God.
After that, everything else should just take care of itself.
More on this subject to come later…I like this. :) I need a lot of work in this area, and I believe there is much for us to learn. Til then…!