I was amazed how similar Darin Hufford prayer journey was to my own and his version is more interesting to read: http://freebelievers.com/blog-entry/prayer-walk I hope the following updated thoughts on prayer may help you in your own journey:
- What should we assume about God and prayer – Timothy Keller in his book Prayer says it best: “God will either give us what we ask or give us what we would have asked if we knew everything he knew” (p. 228). God surely knows best how to oversee a free world and a loving God always act in the best interests of all.
- What is prayer – We might replace the word “praying” in the Bible with “talking.” We can talk to God for many reasons including pursuing a closer relationship with our Creator, for self-examination, and sharing our concerns. The way to improve a relationship with a partner is to simply spend time spending time with them in ways you enjoy. I respect a God who doesn’t control everything as opposed to a God who accepts no resistance, thus I accept praying as communicating for support whatever may happen than manipulating for gain.
- What is the most important reason to talk to God – We tell our children to associate with the right people so to make wiser choices. Talking and getting to know God can help us see God’s perspective. We may begin to want money to not starve as opposed to wanting to be rich or have things. Prayer often is a laundry list of requests for ourselves or others, but God may lead us to be more reflective thus getting more involved with others.
- What may be the most important request from God – Ask God for wisdom whether to take a specific action that is stirring in your heart. Few people claim God speaks to them directly. God does not control our lives or happenings in the world. Simply hang with God to have the right desires and then risk action for a better world. God will be with you each step of the way. Demanding or expecting a certain outcome is not the world God created.
- How do we pray during suffering – You can pray for health but God already knows. Praying doesn’t make God more observant, though God waits for permission in act in certain arenas of our life. We can pray for others but God is already doing all they can. Are we? Jesus’ prayer to avoid the Cross may be the best model in times of suffering. Jesus asked God to intervene but God if there is a better reason to not intervene please stay close to me. I never pray for suffering but I can be grateful for what suffering may teach me. I am a better person sometimes because my prayers are not answered. A close relationship with my Creator can empower me to handle any challenges I must face in this world.
- What does the Bible say though – There is not a book that systemically answers when, where, how, about prayer. Verses are lifted out of context to support the false prosperity gospel. Jesus’ disciples who were martyred understood just believe and you shall receive was false. Paul said for followers to expect persecution for their beliefs (2 Tim. 3:12), thus many prayers today would go unanswered. Jesus’ model for prayer is asking God for our basis needs and strength against evil (Mt. 6:9-13). The simply gospel is to love others as God loves us. God’s love is the same as perfect, human, parenting love. Close relationships, either personal or spiritual, are what inspire us to be the kind of persons we deep down desire to be.
- Where do I begin when lost and disappointed – I often read what God has already spoken about in the Bible. I try to understand what it meant to the original reader, and then I reflect and ask questions what are applications for my life today. It is okay to read spiritual books, take walks, etc. that help you talk with God. Scheduled times for talking to God may help get rid of distractions for some; informal prayers allow many conversations with God through the day. If we only pray with obligation we may never develop intimacy. If we don’t begin somehow we may never achieve. It is normal to feel distant from God during difficult times. Just don’t allow misunderstandings of God to lead to frustrations and withdrawal from God.