Everything I’ve Learned About Prayer

January 3, 2016 No Comments »
Everything I’ve Learned About Prayer

By Kelly Carr

Screen Shot 2015-12-03 at 2.58.04 PMAs we charge ahead into a new calendar, what better way to dive into 2016 than to examine the life of Jesus. Over the next four weeks, we want to focus on four aspects of Jesus’ life: his prayers, his healings, his confrontations, and his teachings.

What can Jesus’ actions in these areas teach us? Why are they important to our everyday lives?

The Right Way

We begin with Jesus’ prayers. Have you read so many articles and books on prayer that you have lost count? How many sermons and tips have you heard describing the best methods, the best times of day, the most consistent strategies for praying? I’ve encountered plenty. Yet for many years I still stressed over doing it “the right way.” I never felt as if I prayed “enough.”

I put those terms in quotes because of course there is no set way or amount—no formula to master, no quota to fill. It took me a while to understand this, however. I tried every idea I could get my hands on. I was afraid of messing up, of missing the mark, of not showing dedication to God somehow. What dominated my prayer life was guilt. 

Talking About It

Looking to Jesus, his life was encapsulated by prayer. It wasn’t because he felt he had to meet some spiritual requirement. It was a relationship. He depended upon the Father. Jesus was navigating his earthly mission and he needed the Father’s help, guidance, encouragement, and support. He had good days and bad, and he needed to talk about it all. 

Same with us. God asks us to pray because we need it. We need help, guidance, encouragement, and support from our Father. We need that relationship. And every good relationship relies on communication. 

Rhythms and Variety

Just as each relationship we have with others looks different from one another, so each of us, uniquely created by God, will have a unique prayer life with him. At different times we communicate with friends in different ways. Sometimes we have long, in-depth conversations. Sometimes we just hang out. Sometimes we talk as we’re serving together. Sometimes we text a quick hello. 

Prayer has those same undulations—rhythms and variety, long and short interactions with God. We become aware that the communication never truly ends, as his Spirit remains with us. There are times when we may feel wordy, gushing with joy or pleading in tears; we may speak, sing, write, or create our prayers, pouring out what we didn’t know was inside. At other times, words aren’t necessary—we may be unable to formulate coherent thoughts when in despair or even in times of adoration; then we can simply be content in his presence.

Looking again at the lofty topic of prayer and all that I’ve studied over the years, I think what I’ve learned boils down to two things:

1. Prayer is good.

2. We should do it. 

So let’s give it a try. We can’t make a mistake. 

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