Thursday, January 28, 2016

A Praying Life- Chapters 3-4

(A few friends and I are reading this book together.  Each week we will read two chapters and on Friday I will post my comments from the reading.  Others may add their thoughts in the comments section.  If you are interested in reading this book as well, here is the link for the Kindle version of the book.)

Chapters 3-4
- In chapter 3 the author talks about our praying to be without pretense. (Pg. 30, Loc. 380) He also uses the phrase "Come messy" (Pg. 30, Loc. 389) and describes it by saying, "Begin with who you are." (Pg. 33, Loc. 432)  Often, I want things to be laid out perfectly before I do something.  At times, I keep preparing and preparing without actually doing the thing because I want to do it right.  I am learning that often I just need to start, let it be sub-par at the beginning, then correct it as I go along.  Reading this chapter, I see that I need to do a similar thing with prayer.  I could either: a) see where I want to be in prayer but only pray once everything is "in order" or b) just pray, trusting I'll grow and develop as I go along.  I guess it is better when I come to Him in prayer, even if I'm messy, than not come because I am messy.  I must remember He can clean up my messiness.

- I liked the suggestion to just speak to God about my worries. (Pg. 33, Loc. 424)  Instead of seeing my mind wandering as "Not Praying Mode," I am encouraged to speak to the Lord about that topic that draws my attention.  That way, I am being more genuine and I'm acknowledging Him in more of my ways.  I hope to implement this in my praying time or just in those moments when I have time for my mind to meander.

- When discussing believing like a child, he said, "Disappointment and broken promises are the norm instead of hoping and dreaming."  (Pg. 38, Loc. 484)  In examining my heart, I'd have to say that my belief is often not like a child.  I ask my Father for things, but I hold back (some of/most of?) my heart so that if He chooses not to answer like I want, I will not be as disappointed.  That attitude has to affect my asking also.  I struggle a bit to know how to hope and dream like he described in areas in which God's will is unknown.

- "Especially when talking with old friends, the conversation bounces from subject to subject.  It has a fun, meandering, play-like quality.  Why would our prayer time be any different?  After all, God is a person." (Pg. 39, Loc. 501)  I read this the day after having a such a conversation as he described.  It gave me a clear comparison.  In thinking of that example I'm able to see the gap between my typical conversation with a person and my typical conversation with my Savior.  Remembering that prayer is conversation and comparing it to the recent instance is a help to me.

- Loved this quote: "The point of Christianity isn't to learn a lot of truths so you don't need God anymore."  (Pg. 41, Loc. 526)

I've had my say- what say you?


  1. His “Come Messy” philosophy made me stop and think. I agree we should not feel embarrassed to take all of our problems to the Lord and talk to Him about where we're at. We shouldn't refrain from prayer because we don't feel very spiritual at the moment – this is my take on what he was getting at. However, I believe we need to be balanced in our thinking so that we do not take his “Come Messy” philosophy to mean that we can pray effectively with sin in our lives. I don't think he was talking about sin so much as he was referring to the state of our mind when we begin prayer. I just needed to make the distinction in my mind. I think we can certainly “Come Messy” with sin to Him, just make sure we confess the sin!

    I appreciated his quote, “If you learn to pray, you learn to dream again” (pg.38). God give us a generation who will call upon Him for great things once again! (Jer.33:3) There is so much negative, fatalistic thinking in our day, even among believers. People have this idea that the last days somehow means no more revivals & awakenings. Maybe since my generation has never seen a great movement of God we are less inclined to believe Him for one. Brothers in Christ, let's dare to believe God in prayer for more than just the status quo in our generation!

    What a blessed reminder it also was to me that the Spirit of Jesus is within me praying! (pg.42). God is continuing to teach me this precious truth & all it's meaning. I'm just so grateful that God doesn't leave me alone in my prayer life, but He is ever there to teach, strengthen, and enable me to be what I ought to be.

  2. I also appreciated what was written about coming to God even when we're "messy." It seems that many times one hindrance to prayer is that we feel we have to gear up for it and get all the technicalities right before we start.
    It's interesting and ironic how we are tempted to try to "fix ourselves up" so we can talk to God, when in reality He is the only one who can actually fix us up! It would be like trying to get healthy enough to go to the doctor.

    I thought he captured the essence of our humility before God in this statement on page 53: "The only way to come to God, is by taking off any spiritual mask. The real you has to meet the real God."

    On a side note, I am looking forward to seeing how he develops the relationship of Father-Child that the believer has with God. Our American ideal is of a best-buddy-father playing pitch-and-catch with his son in the backyard with the child's happiness as the center of importance; but I would argue that that was not the cultural idea of the Father-Child relationship in the first century, nor throughout most of the rest of world history.

  3. These two chapters have helped me see a different perspective of "Lord, teach us to pray." I've so often been taught the outline of prayer to follow that the close, family-type conversation is often lacking in my prayers. "Jesus wants us to be without pretense when we come to him in prayer. Instead, we often try to be something we aren't." (pg. 30). Ironically (and sadly), the only One who truly knows who we really are is the one we so often try to convince we are something we are not. I often want to "get the form of prayer correctly" but in doing so, lose an open and genuineness in talking with my Father.

    The "come messy" part was helpful. I have had my times of not feeling like praying. Those are the times when I need to talk to my Father most. The come messy reminder will hopefully help me in those times. I appreciated what Will said in his comment of the need to distinguish this idea from being okay to just talk with God and leave unconfessed sin in our lives. I don't think the author intends us to think that we can come to God messy and leave just the same. He parallels this with salvation: "We know that to become a Christian we shouldn't try to fix ourselves up, but when it comes to praying we completely forget that." (pg.32). When we come to Christ for salvation, there is the assumption that we will be changed and that God's grace will do an amazing work, not leaving the same as when we came. I think the author's principles here would apply to prayer also. We come burdened and leave having laid those burdens with the Lord. We come with our failures and sins and leave with victory through Christ and forgiveness. The author has not written out what Will commented so I appreciated his comment on these chapters.

    "If you don't begin with where you are, then where you are will sneak in the back door, Your mind will wander to where you are weary." (pg.32)

    I am curious to see how the author will balance the "asking like a child" with the commands we have to ask "according to his will" and to ask for what we are promised that He will give us. The Father will give "good things" (Matthew 7:11). When I read this, my mind wandered (as the author says, "dreamed") of what good things the Lord has promised to give but for which I have not asked (ye have not because ye ask not). I was challenged to ask God for these good things.

    The Learning to Play section I felt helped give me a way to respond to the wandering mind and thoughts while praying.

    Just curious, have any of you tried addressing God in prayer with "Dad" or "Daddy" before rather than just "Father" or "God"? I have done this in my personal prayers but felt it would be awkward publically. Regardless, it has helped me to remember how personal God is and kept me from following through a formality.

  4. "Nothing exposes our selfishness and spiritual powerlessness like prayer."
    This chapter exposes what I have often attempted to do - to get it right in prayer. As if the form and manner of prayer was the litmus for its answer, rather than simple faith in God. When we attempt to pray, we realize how feeble we are in ourselves and need to trust in the grace of God.

    "Our childlike faith dies a thousand little deaths."
    How tragic that we view God through the lens of what man has done to us. God does not fail us like all other relationships do, and we must constantly remind ourselves to see God in this child-like fashion.

    Jacob - I ask my Father for things, but I hold back (some of/most of?) my heart so that if He chooses not to answer like I want, I will not be as disappointed.
    Here’s to hoping he deals with this difficulty in coming chapters.

    I agree strongly with Will - Come as you are but don’t leave the way you came. Come messy but don’t stay messy.

    Schrock - "with the child's happiness as the center of importance” Great thought, I wonder this as well. Kind of goes in with Jacob’s words on holding back in case God chooses not to answer like we want. Thy will be done is to be the spirit of our prayers.

    David - Ironically (and sadly), the only One who truly knows who we really are is the one we so often try to convince we are something we are not. I’m going to use that quote sometime, great way to put it. Thanks.