Prayer: An Introduction

“Prayer is one of the most incredible, most important, most often misunderstood, and least-utilized privileges enjoyed by believers in Christ.”

Every so often I seem to arrive at a place in my life where I am moved to consider and reconsider the role of prayer in my life. And I’ll be honest, most often when I do this I am just reminded of how bad I am at praying.

Perhaps more true is the idea that, along with feeling inadequate in my “prayer” life, I have a past that seems littered with people who are really good at praying. In fact, I would go so far as to suggest that these same people represent some of the most important voices in my life at some the most important moments in my life. I have never hestitated to refer to these people as “spiritual giants” in my own spiritual journey. They are the ones who have left their mark on me, who have demonstrated in my weakness what it looks to be strong. They are people that have surfaced in some unlikely places and in some very timely moments.

And so I often find myself stuck trying to marry the tension of their inspiration and the reality of my own spiritual dissolution with the simple truth that I am also called to pray and to pray well.

About 6 years ago, when I found myself in this place, it led me to read Yancey’s book called “Prayer: Does it Make Any Difference” and to begin a journey through the Gospel of Luke. Over this past year, I found myself in a similar place. This time I was motivated to pick up Timothy Keller’s “Prayer: Experiencing Awe and Intimacy Witih God”, a book that also happened to coincide with a summer series on the Lord’s Prayer at our Church, a more recent study on The Gospel of Mark, and which now seems to be continuing with another book called Movies are Prayers by Josh Larsen. 

 

And so, as I continue to consider and reconsider the role of prayer in my own life in the midst of this summer season, I felt compelled to put some of my past and present thoughts and experiences with prayer into words. My hope is to do this by representing it in three parts:

  1. 6 years ago, while I was going through Yancey’s book, I also happened across a movie called Thor. It helped me to make some sense of the teaching on prayer that I was finding the in the Gospel of Luke (most notably the Lord’s Prayer), and so I initially wrote some of these reflections down in an earlier blog space. I wanted to revisit some of those thoughts and reimagine them for my present context.
  2. During my more recent journey through the Gospel of Mark, I was struck by the way in which “forgiveness” and “prayer” seem so interconnected and dependent on one another. I would like to reflect on what I have been learning about this connection over the last few months.
  3. Lastly, I would like to look at my experience with the three books (mentioned above) that have helped to shape my understanding of prayer in recent years- Yancey’s, Keller’s and Larson’s. All of them write from differing perspsectives, and what struck me about these three books is just how different all of the “spiritual giants” in my life have been as well when it comes to modeling the practice of prayer. Bridging these worlds I think has helped me to consider prayer in a much broader context than I once did, and has opened me up to the idea that prayer doesn’t need to happen in just one particular way.
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