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O Me of Little Faith

I’ve been thinking a lot about prayer lately, mainly because I just finished writing a chapter about prayer in my “doubt” manuscript for Zondervan.

Mainly it’s about my problems with prayer — including:

1. How I don’t understand it very well (but am learning to re-understand it)

2. How my attitude about it is wrong because I get increasingly annoyed by the way I pray in public (mainly worrying about what people think about my prayer)

3. How I also get annoyed by the way other people pray in public (mainly worrying about how many times they say the fake humble word “just” — too many — and how often they use some variant of Father, Lord, God, LordGod, or FatherGod in place of commas and periods, as if we need to keep calling God by name every few phrases to make sure we keep his attention)

4. How my tendency to judge other people’s prayers pretty much makes me a horrible person.

The chapter explains how rarely I pray these days using the good-old Southern Baptist, conversational, make-it-up-as-you-go-along approach to prayer. Instead, when I do pray — which, admittedly, isn’t often enough — I find myself relying on selections from the Book of Common Prayer or to the Lord’s Prayer or to other prayers from scripture.

But mainly I return, all the time, to two sentence-long prayers that are easy to remember, are almost always truthful, and are almost always appropriate.

One is known in Orthodox and contemplative circles as “The Jesus Prayer.” There are several variations of it, but the one I like most is:

Lord Jesus Christ, son of the living God, have mercy on me, a sinner.

The other is one I learned from my parents and teachers over the years, who just wanted me to be polite but ended up teaching me the importance of gratitude. That prayer is this:

Thank you.

———–

That’s my confession. How do you pray?

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