Monday, 19 August 2013

Prayer - It's just talking to God, Right?

I often find myself struggling with the way some people pray. Don't get me wrong, I'm happy that they're praying (oh how I wish more did it) but there are just a few things that ring the bell for me.

For instance, ever come a cross a prayer that goes like this:
'Father God we just thank you, Father God, for the love you showed us, Father God, and we love you for your death on the cross, Father, and thank you, Father God, that you fill us and surround us. And, Father God, we than you, Father God, for everything you do for us and, Father God, ...'

I struggle when there is more name than prayer and the pressure only increases as people pray about 'Father God' dying for them because it often indicates something much deeper in terms of understanding. Considering that God (hereafter known as 'the Father' is the author of our salvation which was won for us by the one atoning act of Jesus (AKA 'the Christ' and hereafter referred to as 'the Son') dying for us upon the cross and this is lived out daily by the enabling and empowering of God's Holy Spirit I find the interchangeability quite disturbing at the extremities.

the next problem I have is when the person praying feels that they have to tell God what they're talking about. You've probably been in one of those services where someone prays something like:

'Dear God, please help those people who work at Bloggs, you know, the company up the road who are going to be made redundant because of the wild goose shortage ... '

Now I know that sometimes there is a feeling (real or implied) that the issue being highlighted and prayed for needs to be outlined, clarified and explained in great depth but I have a sneaky thought that God, who is after all omnipotent and all-knowing, probably doesn't need the information. I encourage those whom I help with regard to praying to give some short preamble that provides an outline of the need for the folks who might not know (if there's a real chance they won't know of course) and then get on with the prayer.

Now there's many other little things that I try to work with people over (like the word 'just' as found in the oh so many prayers where the word features almost as much (or with some people actually more) than the multiple 'Father God' (or other name of the Trinity) prayers.

So there we have it - and even though it might make me appear to be a grumpy old goat - we've just scratched the surface :-)

I think this cartoon most ably demonstrates one of my niggles (after all - prayer is just talking to God like we talk to people, isn't it?):
Happy Monday ;-)


Ray Barnes said...

As a very new Christian, one of the reasons I am so greatly drawn to the 'high church' Anglo Catholic approach is that the structure is laid down for us so we don't need to struggle to formulate our prayers.
Listening closely to those at the 'coal face', our priests and lay ministers, makes it much simpler for those of us dawdling at the edge of the mine.
The first time a girl with a problem dropped in to the church and asked me if I would pray with her, I was frankly terrified, but listening to her problems helped, and having heard the different forms of prayer offered by our clergy I found the words just suddenly came.
I may well be wrong but I find that the simplest is the best.

Vic Van Den Bergh said...

Simplest is always the best.

I remember a chap who, having come to faith, was asked to pray and having never been taught or had the chance to hear people pray entered into something that sounded KJV and having embarrassed himself was not seen again for quite a while (until a couple of us took him out for a pint and told him our 'newbie' experience stories) - best bit was he became a pastor a few years on.

All it needs is for us to share the needs and concerns we have with God (and others) simply and take time to listen rather than trying to impress or issue our shopping list. Letting the words come is always the bestest possible way.

thanks for comment :-)