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Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Prayer Posts and Prayer Dares

Before I begin, let me say I love Jesus. I believe in prayer. I pray. I believe prayer is important. Jesus taught us to pray. Pray.

Please read all my prayer posts through that lens. Please.

I have always been somewhat of a student of prayer. I have never considered myself a “prayer warrior” and, quite frankly, the phrase makes me a little uneasy.

The topic of prayer has come up A LOT around Westwinds lately. I think it is time to blog a few of my thoughts and maybe you can process with me.

I have been a follower of Jesus for 30 years.

I have read more books and had more conversations on prayer than you could possibly imagine.

And, honestly, I don’t feel much further down the line with my understanding of prayer than I did 30 years ago.

Sometimes, I think I understood it better back then—when I didn’t know anything. And that very statement may actually be more profound than I originally intended.

I have changed my mind about how to pray, when to pray, how often to pray, and what prayer accomplishes more than you can imagine.

And, I'll be honest . . .

I have strong opinions about what bothers me when it comes to prayer. I have strong opinions about what bothers me about certain kinds of prayer agendas. I have strong opinions about prayer words and phrases—i.e., “get on your knees and fight like a man,” “we must align our hearts with God,” “lift your request up to him” . . .

I have strong opinions about definitions of prayer that somehow “require” God to respond in certain ways based on where my heart is or how often I pray or how many people pray with me, etc.

I will have some scattered thoughts and posts about prayer over the next few days. Comment please. Converse.

Sometimes, I'm a prayer mess.

I have shown some of my cards already.

Honestly, a lot of my prayer baggage is out of a concern for those who are just beginning to follow Jesus and are watching and listening. To us. To me. I am scared to death sometimes at the garbage that some people are fed about prayer that I believe is --at best-- silly and shallow and --at worst-- unbiblical. So, it is more than pet peeves that I will be sharing.

This first post is simple. No deep theology. No big questions.

Just a simple challenge.

This challenge is for the “seasoned” pray-er. This challenge is for the professional Christian pray-er. This challenge is for the student of prayer. It is not meant to belittle or demean anyone.

If we are going to have this conversation, I dare you to pray for one day like this:

  • Without using the word “just” i.e. “Lord, we just want to just thank you for just . . .
  • Address God differently than your normal go-to name i.e. “most gracious heavenly Father, etc.
  • If you pray out loud this week, talk like you normally talk—normal inflections. Normal words.
  • If you pray out loud this week, do not sigh
  • Without using words you never use in any other context (most of the “tion” words like propitiation are out)
  • Try ending your prayer with something other than, “in Jesus’ name” as a form of “sincerely”. Maybe try putting the “in Jesus’ name” at the front of the prayer. Or leave it off the prayer.
  • Try praying “after” a meal once.
  • Try praying in the middle of a meal once.
  • Try praying with your eyes open.
  • If you stand, try it on your knees. If you kneel, try standing.
  • Do not use the phrase “we lift up” while praying
The next part of the challenge is tough. Kinda weird.

Make mental notes of how many times you hear other people praying around you in light of the above list. God will not be angry at you for doing a prayer experiment—He is bigger than that. I happen to believe God is a big fan of learning through observation.

After you try it for a day, discuss it here. This is food for conversation.

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