Been doing a great deal of talking about prayer lately. Some of the discussions are related to what I do for a living and some of them because of how I live.
Since prayer is inherently a "talk with God" language plays a role. I know plenty of folks who feel the need to go into God talk when they pray. And you know what? Bless them! I don't care how they converse with their mother and I don't care how they chat with God.
But when they assume that their way is THE way, well . . . then we have a problem. Recently, a good friend suffered much from a verbal lashing she received because how she talks to and of God didn't conform to this woman's view of the "sacred." But my friend talks the way she talks and I would no more edit her prayers than I would edit the beautiful free flowing expressiveness of her life. She adds to me by challenging me to think far beyond my usual mental borders.
After hearing her account of how she'd been reprimanded, I then had to meet with a group of folks interested in encouraging prayer for my city. The meeting was primarily about how to launch some prayer opporunities. Administrative in nature, I discouraged a couple of city "prayer warriors" from attending. But one felt the need to pray for me. Now, having admitted that I was bothered with how my friend was corrected "in Christian love" I have to acknowledge that I'm about to point out something in my personal prayer warrior's approach that might be considered criticism. So hear this . . . I'm not criticizing! I'm saying this just IS NOT ME!!!
The woman prayed for me over the phone. She told God everything that she and I had just said to one another (so much for that whole omnipresent thing) and then after about four minutes she began what I thought was her approach to the landing field. In my circles, when you start "in Jesus' name" that's time to grab the purse and the keys so you can be first in line at the restaurants because this show is about to close! But not her, she got to the familiar phrase, said it and then began to recount several of Jesus' names, then she closed in again with "in your son's most holy name" and decided to start listing all of God's other attributes. We circled the landing field at least four times before finally concluding that prayer.
Later when I was discussing this with a friend, I admitted that I liked the fact that she has her own style, that it wasn't my style and that in fact, laundry list prayers of things God is already well aware of simply bother me. I'm more of a moaner (and please just mentally behave and allow me to use that word). I moan and groan to God. I don't have the words sometimes to help God know what's needed. But what little faith I have assures me that a being as great is God is supposed to be somehow understands. And many of my prayers are silent versions of "eh? you hear that God, yeah whatever you can do, great".
My buddy who got her verbal hand slapped for word choice, talks to Jesus like a lover. I think that's cool. I can't do it, but I'm glad she can. And even my "will she ever stop?" warrior gets kudos from me for doing her thing. So why do I beat myself up and feel that my way isn't good enough?
One more thing . . . I DO have a problem with the people who act like prayer is a magic decoder ring. If you do it right, and God is satisfied that you've broken the code, then the world is yours for the asking.
Nuh uh. Can't go there.