Suzi (k00kaburra) wrote,


In my church group last night we had a discussion about God answering prayers. Something that came up over and over again was a frustration that He was most decidedly not responding, at least not in an audible way. One person said that their uncertainty over His answers led them to question events constantly - did God do that, or was it just a coincidence? No one said they thought God didn't listen to prayers...they just question the effectiveness of it all.

I'm pretty lousy about praying, I admit. I often will go days without formally doing so, and even as I'm thinking out my evening prayers it's usually a mental recitation of the Lord's prayer. (I guess I just kinda figure if it was good enough for Jesus, it's good enough for me.)
But deep, thoughtful, considerate prayer? It doesn't really happen much.

I think a large reason for that is that I'm basically content. I have no great tragedies to pray for; when my grandfather was sick I prayed for his comfort but now that he's gone, I don't need much. I pray for my friends when bad things happen to them, but I don't like to repeat myself in God's ear again and again - He heard it the first time, right? - so after a few mentions I usually drop the subject. If reduced to a generic fill-in-the-blank form, I think the majority of my prayers would run along these lines:
"Dear God, thank you that my life doesn't suck and everything's pretty swell. I especially appreciate [insert good thing here]. [Insert flaw here] remains a monkey on my back, so some help with that would be swell. Please help [insert name] with [insert problem], and give guidance to [insert name] regarding [insert issue]. Etc, etc, kthxbai Amen."

But anyway. So as everyone was talking I kept thinking, *Sure, you ask God to do this and this and this and this, but when do you stop and listen to what He might try to say back? It's always going to be a one-sided conversation if you don't give the other party a chance to speak!* This would be the influence of The Art of Listening Prayer, a book I tried to read a few years ago with no success. But even though I couldn't complete it - I don't think I made it a week into Barne's 30-day program - the core idea of actively listening for God stuck with me. In other religious movements you'd call it meditation, but it seems like many [conservative] Protestant Christian movement avoids the term like the plague, because it's too closely associated with Evil Non-Christian Religions From the East. I think it's an aspect sorely missing from the lives of many people who are too busy calling out "WHY GOD DOES MY LIFE SUCK WHY DON'T YOU ANSWER MY PRAYERS WHY GOD WAAAAAAAAAAAAIIII????" for Him to get a word in edgewise. But I didn't really say anything to the group, because everyone was talking so enthusiastically it was difficult to get a word in myself.

Ah well, perhaps next week.
Tags: church, jesus, prayer, small group

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