Tag Archives: praying

Reality Praying

When our son Dan was a little boy he would sometimes do something wrong and stubbornly resist admitting it. Stewing in his unconfessed guilt, he was miserable. I often found that a gentle and loving approach would soften his heart. He’d admit his offense, I’d say I forgave him, we’d hug, and he’d go bounding off happy as could be!

It’s been said that confession is good for the soul. I believe it, not just from observing my young son, but also because I’ve experienced the same with people and, more importantly, with God.

I’m an older gray haired man who’s attempted to connect with God for over sixty years in what is usually called prayer. I’ve read stacks of books on prayer, and I’ve preached and taught on the subject more times than I can remember. I’m still learning the art of praying, but one thing I’ve become convinced of is the importance of being honest to God in prayer. Can I call it for what it really is? It’s confession.

Okay, I know, this isn’t the most popular part of praying. If we pray, the most passionate of our praying is usually pleading for God to give us what we need or even just want. Maybe we’ll remember to thank God for something good that’s come our way. Confessing something to Him just isn’t a priority. After all, don’t we have enough people telling us what’s wrong with us? Don’t we sometimes secretly struggle with admitting that we’re far from perfect? Then why would we want to get negative in our praying and bring up what’s wrong with us?

Why? Because confession’s good for the soul! My experience has been that when I’m honest to God in my praying, identifying what’s not right and good, and asking His forgiveness, I feel a whole lot better, a lot like my small son did years ago. Reality TV shows may be popular, but reality praying is what needs to gain in popularity.

What I find important to remember is that God is a loving God. He yearns to have a closer relationship with us. The way I picture it is that He is far more ready to extend grace and forgiveness than I was as a father with my young son.

When you think about it, we’re more likely to admit to someone our wrongdoing if we know beforehand that we’ll be extended grace, mercy, and forgiveness by the person. This is what God is like, but even more so! This is why I find confession a doable part of prayer, because I know He’s anxious to forgive and ready to help me move on to something better!

“When I kept silent, my bones wasted away through my groaning all day long. For day and night your hand was heavy on me; my strength was sapped as in the heat of summer. Then I acknowledged my sin to you and did not cover up my iniquity. I said, ‘I will confess my transgressions to the Lord.’ And you forgave me the guilt of my sin.” King David in Psalm 32:3-5


The Importance of Prayer


The photo is of my mother praying. While visiting my mom last year I quietly and quickly snapped the picture. She’s 88 years old, in poor health, and doesn’t get out much. She still works, however. She works at prayer! She always has a long list of people and concerns that takes considerable time each day to cover. Then too, I know she simply talks to God about, whatever. She does not live alone, she knows, for the Lord is her constant companion, and she talks to Him often. 

Most of her praying takes place while she sits in her chair and some while she spends sleepless hours at night in her bed. She tells me, however, that if it’s a really serious situation of crisis proportions she will get flat on her face on the carpet to pray. I suspect that her concluding request at such times is that she can get up again! 

Mom tells me every Saturday afternoon when I call her that she’s praying for my preaching that weekend. I’m really glad to hear that! I tell her that her main job now is to pray. I just returned from a trip to Mexico to visit our daughter and family (my wife Diann is taking a second week with the family). Upon my return home from the Detroit airport I called my mother to tell her of my safe return. She exclaimed, as she always does after my return from a trip, “Thank God.” She means it! 

Prayer is simply communication with God. It seems one-way, for we do all the talking, but, really, it’s two way communication. We may not always realize this, but it’s true. Prayer deepens our relationship with the Lord. 

Yes, prayer is primarily to be relational (communication with Him) but some praying is that of requesting God to act in some way. God’s so designed this world that some of what He wants to get done will only happen when His people pray for it to happen. It was Alfred Tennyson who said that “more things are wrought by prayer than this world dreams of.” 

There’s nothing new, deep, or profound in this blog. It’s just intended to remind us that in our busy week, when we do a lot of talking and communicating with people, that we remember to communicate with God. He’s telling us, “Talk to me!” So, whether it’s an extended few minutes in prayer or short “arrow prayers” let’s keep talking to Him! 

Pray continually.” (1 Thessalonians 5:17)


The “Step Back” Prayer

prayerhandsA man went to his doctor and said, “Doc, I’m listless, lie around a lot, and don’t feel like working.  What’s wrong with me?”

After checking him out the doctor said, “I’ll give it to you straight.  Your problem is that you’re lazy.”

The man replied, “OK, I can accept that.  Now could you give me a fancy medical term that I can tell my wife?”

The man wanted to know what was wrong with him, and he wanted to get better — sort of!  He’s not alone.

We want to overcome a weakness or be able to resist a certain temptation, but there’s part of us that enjoys it.  We know we should want to get closer to God but if we’re honest, we have to admit it’s not always a deep concern.  We know we should forgive a person who’s done us wrong, but we really don’t want to; we enjoy carrying a grudge too much.  What to do?

I’ve gained an important insight on how talk to God when my attitude or belief isn’t as holy or as strong as it should be.  It comes from a father who asked Jesus to give him more faith so Jesus would heal his son.  Before I share his prayer, let me show you how I apply his prayer to my own situation.

“Lord, part of me doesn’t want to give up that which is wrong in my life.  Help me to want to want to give it up.”

“Dear God, I don’t always want to draw near to you.  Help me to want to want to draw near to you.”

“Lord, I don’t want to forgive.  Help me to want to want to forgive.”

I call it the “Step Back” prayer.  If I can’t honestly pray for something with my whole heart and deepest conviction, I take it a step back and pray that I may want to want to do what God wants.  That’s a prayer I’m convinced God is anxious to answer.

“I believe; help me overcome my unbelief.”  A father’s request to Jesus in Mark 9:24

The Practice of Prayer

Frequently my wife Diann and I hear the familiar sound from our computer of someone calling us on Skype. We glance at the screen and are delighted when it’s one of our kids. The same is true with the phone. Caller ID tells us that it’s Julie or Dan, and no matter what we’re doing, we pick it up.

God wants to hear from us! He created us to be in a relationship with Him, to communicate with Him. He’s anxious to hear us talk to Him — pray to Him.

However, It’s not always easy to pray well. After all these years there are still many times I feel my prayers aren’t getting any higher than the top of my head. I find my mind wandering. I pray with more doubts than faith.

Richard Foster, who wrote the definitive book on the spiritual disciplines, Celebration of Discipline, wrote, “One of the liberating experiences in my life came when I understood that prayer involved a learning process.” (p.33)

“Practice makes perfect” is an old adage that certainly can apply to talking with God. It’s better to pray imperfectly than not to pray at all! If God’s anxious to hear from me, more anxious, even, than I am to hear from my kids, then this is one “kid” of the Lord who’s going to keep talking to Him!

“Lord, teach us to pray.” (a request by the disciples of Jesus in Luke 11:1)