I want to recommend a very fine essay by Chris, the Desert Pastor, called The Tempering of Extemporaneous Prayer. As an evanglical who attended a fairly non-liturgical church, I was taught that prayer is simply a conversation with God—speaking your mind, saying what is on your heart—and that it is. But is it more than that? Has the shedding of liturgy, mystery, ritual and tradition in the evangelical church had the result that we’ve become prayer dullards?
Be honest. Do you enjoy prayer? Do you feel weird praying out loud? Does your mind wander while the pastor is praying for Ethel Caldweiller’s gallstones? Could there be more to prayer than meets the ear?
In time, I began to realize that the “evangelical” path to prayer despite its relational orientation was often a stumbling block for people, and especially for those whose spiritual lives were just beginning to develop.
For a long time now, I’ve known that I am missing something in my prayer life. Chris’ essay mentions a number of prayer methods and traditions that I’d like to try.
When I was a young Christian, I was given a book called Power Through Prayer by E.M. Bounds. Somewhere Bounds makes the point that prayer is not about preparing us for the battles in our lives: prayer is the battle itself. By that, he meant that in prayer, we actually engage in spiritual warfare on a number of levels at once.
In other words, prayer, which I have sometimes thought of as one of those things I really ought to do more of if only I had the time, may in fact be the most important part of the Christian walk of all… and here I am, still praying like a child.
This is another of those places in my life where God has work to do.