On prayer

Although prayer has never been far from the blog surface….

You might remember, for example, that we looked at prayer a while ago as we watched the little girl cross the bridge with her umbrella (see Blog Post November 12th 2015) and it has been a regular guest star in our ponderings about burdens.

….I want to stop and stare for a minute at my attitudes to prayer. Recently I have been hit between the eyes about how easy it is to think very wrongly about prayer.

I have noticed that to pray about something leaves me with a sense of having added it to my to-do list. Note: I’m not talking about the issue of prayer itself (for better or worse) becoming yet another thing we need to do, but rather that the actual things I bring to God in prayer seem to leave me feeling as though there is yet more stuff to do. This is not the case when in the midst of a task, tricky conversation or a worrying thought I run to God in prayer, but rather when I am ‘list’ praying.

So, for example, take these extracts from my prayer cards for the children:

Gentleness: Ephesians 4:2: with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love. Self control

Quick to listen, Slow to speak and Slow to become angry

Godly manhood, gentle leadership and protection of the vulnerable. Not celebrating violence and defeating others.

A good range of things he can be good at and enjoy. Balance in his passions and a willingness to join in.

Calm expression of grievances and a love for peacemaking.

Humility and teachability: Teach me to do your will for you are my god! Let your good Spirit lead me on level ground. Psalm 143:10

Poverty of spirit.

A growing prayer life and dependency on God. Philippians 4:4-7, Proverbs 3:5-6

Thankfulness, contentment, generosity. Philippians 4:19 (supply)

So I pray these things for them and at the end I have a list, or at least the sense of a list, that feels/looks a bit like this:

  • Make a prayer diary with….
  • Do some bible teaching with …. on…..
  • I’m such a bad Mum, we haven’t had family prayers for three days running
  • Consider if such and such is having a bad influence on …..

Not that any of those things are wrong (except the extrapolation from I haven’t done… to the conclusion that “I am a bad Mum”)

But I don’t think that a list such as the one above is the intended end point in talking to my heavenly Father. It’s like I’ve jumped off the train while it was still moving rather than staying on until the destination on the ticket. I also imagine that it explains some of my reluctance to pray. Do I really want to start something that is going to open up a whole new can of worms to consider, plan towards, or do something about?

So I spotted this one day and was frankly shocked at myself. How wrong can you be!! And yet – how subtle. A poisonous parasite has infiltrated my prayer life and I want to extract it!

More to come……but in the meantime – can any of you spot anything similar in your prayer lives?


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