Tuesday, May 03, 2011

"A Praying Life"

I'm currently reading this book called A Praying Life by Paul E. Miller.  And I can't help myself, I have to post something about it because it's been so wonderful to read.  Here is an excerpt from the book:
The difficulty of coming just as we are (in prayer to God) is that we are messy.  And prayer makes it worse.  When we slow down to pray, we are immediately confronted with how unspiritual we are, with how difficult it is to concentrate on God.  We don't know how bad we are until we try to be good.  Nothing exposes our selfishness and spiritual powerlessness like prayer.
In contrast, little children never get frozen by their selfishness.  Like the disciples, they come just as they are, totally self-absorbed.  They seldom get it right.  As parents or friends, we know all that.  In fact, we are delighted (most of the time!) to find out what is on their little hearts.  We don't scold them for being self-absorbed or fearful.  That is just who they are...
This isn't just a random observation about how parents respond to little children.  This is the gospel, the welcoming heart of God.  God also cheers when we come to him with our wobbling, unsteady prayers.  Jesus does not say, "Come to me, all you who have learned how to concentrate in prayer, whose minds no longer wander, and I will give you rest."  No, Jesus opens his arms to his needy children and says, "Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest" (Matthew 11:28 NASB).  The criteria for coming to Jesus is weariness.  Come overwhelmed with life.  Come with your wandering mind.  Come messy.
What does it feel like to be weary?  You have trouble concentrating.  The problems of the day are like claws in your brain.  You feel pummeled by life.
What does heavy-laden feel like?  Same thing.  You have so many problems you don't even know where to start.  You can't do life on your own anymore.  Jesus wants you to come to him that way!  Your weariness drives you to him.
Don't try to get the prayer right; just tell God where you are and what's on your mind.  That's what little children do.  They come as they are, runny noses and all.  Like the disciples, they just say what is on their minds.
We know that to become a Christian we shouldn't try to fix ourselves up, but when it comes to praying we completely forget that.  We'll sing the old gospel hymn, "Just as I Am," but when it comes to praying, we don't come just as we are.  We try, like adults, to fix ourselves up.
Private, personal prayer is one of the last great bastions of legalism.  In order to pray like a child, you might need to unlearn the non-personal, nonreal praying that you've been taught. p. 31-32
Seriously-  Get this book and read it.

1 comment:

::LYNDSEY:: said...

Whoaaaa. Just read that entire excerpt. Whew. "What does it feel like to feel weary?" - So very good. And coming to the Lord with a runny nose...ahhh...