Tuesday, 16 August 2016

Praying properly

(Originally journaled January 18, 2015)

I should be reading my Common Prayer book and my Bible. I wonder why that seems like such a big job? And I really, really, really should pray properly! I've been doing little "arrow prayers" when I think of it--or when I feel guilty about forgetting to pray, or when people ask me to pray. But I'm afraid those prayers--tiny and short, and with bad attitude too often--aren't very "acceptable"--not a fragrant and pleasing sacrifice, as the Bible puts it. I feel I'm letting people down. Not to mention letting myself down, regarding my relationship to You. And, of course, letting You down.

But all I can think of is those hours and hours and hours I used to pray for my children and the community and the churches and lots of individual people. And I do believe You're still working in my kids' lives for sure. But I'm realizing more and more how tangled and complicated our world is and how you're dealing with the needs of over 7 billion people (never mind the needs of the earth itself)--and I'm also realizing that people really do have a free will.

I guess I was hoping that my earnest prayers would lead to "miracles" like those ones we hear about (the English guy with the orphanages; revivals here and there with bars turned into churches--and giant veggies growing and stuff like that. But with all those prayers of mine it still didn't seem like I could see much of anything happen. Yet maybe that's the point: like Hebrews 11: faith--things not seen--but still hoped for, trusting in You.

The other thing is that I don't really know what to pray, because I'm more and more convinced that a lot of our "wishes" are awfully short-sighted. And what we beg You to do might not be best at all.  Only You can see the big picture.

Scripture says "the prayer of faith (along with elders anointing with oil) will heal the sick"--but all I can think of is King Hezekiah begging for healing because he didn't have an heir. And his request was granted, and then he had a son--and that son turned out to be one of the most wicked kings ever.

So all I want to pray is "Your will be done." (And no, it doesn't have to do with "lack of faith"--it's because I'm really becoming convinced that "my will" is so often destructive and short-sighted, blind even).

I could just pray "The Lord's Prayer," I guess. That pretty much covers everything. In the Anglican Church they pray the Lord's Prayer, and a couple other sort of "general" prayers--and then they have the "prayers of the people" and they just give names, not details--and that makes a lot of sense to me because, after all, You know all those people, and You know all their needs, and most of all, You know what's best for each of them, so your people are doing the right thing (I think) by praying those people's names to You--and leaving the path and results up to You. (Right? I think ...)

What's included in the Lord's Prayer? Honoring You. Your eternal purposes (you know best). Basic human needs. Relationship with you and others, and salvation. More of Your eternal purposes and relationship with You and others. So may your purposes, your love and righteousness prevail.

Yes, that pretty much covers it.

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