Advertisement

Prayer, Plain and Simple

Prayer, Plain and Simple

21 Ways to Pray: Imperfection Required!

I played the trumpet until 9th grade, the year I moved to a large suburban school. When I first entered the band room and heard the trumpet section I knew I had to quit. They were fabulous, and I felt I couldn’t measure up. I enjoyed playing trumpet and actually, I wasn’t bad. But I wasn’t great or at all close to the best. I just wanted to be best. When I was younger I wanted to be best at everything. If I wasn’t excellent I didn’t want to be involved. I was “perfectionistic,” so I quit playing trumpet. What a pathetic mistake!

Throughout my life I have given up on good things because I didn’t feel competent or informed or practiced. Not knowing “how” is a great shame to me. This is a character flaw, rooted in unhealthy pride and my competitive nature. At times this tendency has corrupted even my relationship with God. If I can’t pray perfectly I may fail to pray at all. If I can’t have an uninterrupted 30 minutes, or if I feel distracted or worried or haunted by some regret I may stay away from God. In other words, I often avoid prayer the very moments I need God most. Waiting to be perfect at the perfect moment in the perfect context for prayer… well, I end up away from God all the more.

Many of us have been conditioned to associate prayer with “perfect.” But what if instead we learned to prayer at times and in ways that are exactly opposite of “perfect?” What if we prayed more often and less completely, more honestly and less formally, more simply and less accurately?  

In our book, “Six Prayers God Always Answers,” Jennifer Schuchmann and I suggest that maybe “honest” is really the only way to pray. And there as many ways to be honest as there are states of trouble in which to find ourselves. Here’s how we put it:

We talk to God, but we don’t all speak the same language. One person’s prayer comes wrapped in a work of art, like Fabriano’s The Nativity, Handel’s The Messiah, or little Jimmy’s finger painting, Jesus Raises Stinking Lazarus.

Another prayer might appear as a dramatic enactment, like the Jewish Passover or a Native American rain dance. Prayer might waft above a city sung from atop a mosque tower. It might tumble from the lips of a sniffling child, meander along the lyrics of a Kentucky bluegrass song, or be concealed in the eloquent silence of a Benedictine friar.

Communicating with God takes many forms in its effort to express our common predicament. Our reach is never long enough, our fingers never nimble enough. We run out of time, stamina, and will. Our ambitions outpace our capacity and the gap cannot be spanned by noble savagery or advanced technology.

And then? We kneel down. We look up.

Maybe true prayer MUST be imperfect, because it grows out of our honest need of God. Maybe too we pray best when we let our words rise from present, natural moments. I’ve learned, now that I have experienced many failures in my life that prayer can be richest when it’s simple and spontaneous. In fact, I can pray anywhere, at any time. It doesn’t require lofty language in a sacred space. All I need to do is see our ordinary moments as the perfect occasions for communicating with God, then speak from my heart.

I’ve written a series of meditations about this called “21 Ways to Pray.” Over the next three weeks I’ll be posting about these simple, down to earth, in-the-middle-of-life spiritual practices. Check it out the presentation.

And of course, dive in and offer your own experiences and insights along the way! 

Previous Posts

A Prayer for Anger Management
So Jesus came to Jerusalem and went into the Temple. After looking around carefully at everything, he left because it was late in the afternoon. Then he returned to Bethany with the twelve disciples... When they arrived back in Jerusalem, Jesus entered the Temple and began to drive out the people b

posted 11:59:48am Mar. 31, 2015 | read full post »

A Prayer for Holy Week
..."He was despised, and we did not appreciate His worth... "  Isaiah 53:3-4 AMP For I am not ashamed of this Good News about Christ. It is the power of God at work, saving everyone who believes... Romans 1:16 NLT Let us determine in our deepest souls to appreciate the worth of the Son of God and

posted 11:19:10am Mar. 30, 2015 | read full post »

Who I Am in Jesus
Anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun! (2 Corinthians 5:17 NLT) I love the notion of starting over – of God wiping the slate clean and re-designing my life after I've messed it up. Being IN CHRIST or "belonging to Christ" means that I l

posted 12:28:19pm Mar. 26, 2015 | read full post »

A Prayer to Find God
“Surely the Lord is in this place, and I wasn’t even aware of it! ...What an awesome place this is! It is none other than the house of God, the very gateway to heaven!” ~Jacob (Genesis 28:16,17) Jacob's plans had gone awry. He got what he wanted:  he stole his brother's birthright as well as

posted 1:36:43pm Mar. 25, 2015 | read full post »

A Procrastinator's Prayer of Repentance
Now, a person who is put in charge as a manager must be faithful. 1 Corinthians 4:2 “The master was full of praise. ‘Well done, my good and faithful servant. You have been faithful in handling this small amount, so now I will give you many more responsibilities. Let’s celebrate together!'" Ma

posted 11:31:00am Mar. 24, 2015 | read full post »

Advertisement


Report as Inappropriate

You are reporting this content because it violates the Terms of Service.

All reported content is logged for investigation.