What difference does it make?   Leave a comment

Continuing our look into “A Praying Life “ by Paul Miller one of the first questions he asks is, “ What good does it [prayer] do?” Like so much in this book, it is a question we have all asked often but rarely dared to utter out loud. Often our childlike faith gives way to cynicism in the wake of sincere prayers that seem to fall on deaf ears. As a consequence, deep down, there is a growing lack of confidence that prayer makes any difference.

Miller suggests that, in an attempt to get help we might visit an imaginary “prayer therapist”. Asked about what it means to be a child of God, we give a full account of the relevant doctrine. However when asked to describe what it feels like to spend time and talk with our Father…

“You cautiously tell the therapist how difficult it is to be in your Father’s presence, even for a couple of minutes. Your mind wanders. You aren’t sure what to say. You wonder, ‘Does prayer make any difference? Is God even there?’ Then you feel guilty for your doubts and just give up. Your therapist tells you what you already suspect. “Your relationship with your heavenly Father is dysfunctional. You talk as if you have an intimate relationship, but you don’t. Theoretically, it is close. Practically, it is distant. You need help.”

So how do we begin to reach for the type of prayer life that is described in the pages of our Bibles. Miller suggests we begin by realizing that prayer is first and foremost about relationship and to help us understand this he uses the image of a family meal    

A praying life feels like our family mealtimes because prayer is all about relationship. It’s intimate and hints at eternity. We don’t think about communication or words but about whom we are talking with. Prayer is simply the medium through which we experience and connect to God. Oddly enough, many people struggle to learn how to pray because they are focusing on praying, not on God. Making prayer the center is like making conversation the center of a family mealtime. In prayer, focusing on the conversation is like trying to drive while looking at the windshield instead of through it. It freezes us, making us unsure of where to go. Conversation is only the vehicle through which we experience one another.

But then so many of our family meals these days are rushed, taken at different times dependent upon our diverse and frantic schedules. Could it be that this feature of our home lives is reflected in our experience of relationship (or lack of it) with our Father in heaven? Could be at least part of the reason we don’t experience  “a praying life?”

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Posted August 31, 2012 by jolm15 in Uncategorized

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