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Grown Up Prayer

18 Nov

“When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child.  (and yes, I prayed like a child).   When I became a man I put childish ways behind me.”  1 Cor 13: 11

There are several spiritual gray hairs of maturity: love, patience, forgiveness…and many others, but prayer is maybe the most obvious sign of growth.  You wouldn’t think it would be that hard to mature in but it is not as easy as moving from “now I lay me down to sleep” to the “PRAY” acronym.  (P-Praise R-Repent A-Ask for others Y-Yourself).

I consider myself an older teenager when it comes to prayer.  I am not quite a child anymore, I think I know more than I do and my practice of it often feels not fully developed.  I am comfortable in the ‘grown up’ world but I still revert back to childishness at times.  Prayer for me is at once simple and difficult to master.  I have tasted very deeply of what it will be like to be a grown-up but I do not dwell there continually.

Some truly do seem to master it.   When I need to ask for prayer for something, although I know many Christians, there are only a handful that I think will truly pray.  You know what I’m saying here.  I know all of my friends will bow their head and ‘lift me up’….but there is indeed a difference between those saints who will go to their knees and travail for a purpose, who will take the time to ‘meet with God’ and suffer in the request, and those who fling random wishes into the air with ‘Dear God’ in front of it….there is a difference and if something is critical to me….I ask my buddies with the calloused knees first.

I suppose all of us early on put formulas into practice and then stall out.  We seek to deepen our prayer life by expanding what we pray for and the time spent doing it, which is really not a deepening at all…..we end up as the guy in this video praying for everything we can think of and feeling obligated to do it for so long.   Instead of boldly entering past the veil we rush through the outside court and call out our thoughts to God as we pass by.  I suppose it may count as prayer but it doesn’t seem to affect much.  Or, maybe it does, but it doesn’t seem very meaningful.

I love communing with God.  I find nothing sweeter in life, not even my children.  But, I do not pray that sweet Holy of Holies way every single time I whisper ‘Father’.  I go to lonely places but I don’t always steal away each day.  I am mindful that I don’t go long stretches without it entirely.  Typically I practice continual prayer which takes some time to get into the habit of and is unfortunately, easy to fall out of.  It takes discipline to stay in and I think, an evidence of maturity.  For me, it does not replace going off alone to pray but it keeps me closely connected until I am moved to be alone with Him, or ….I just realize I need to get back in there.   Often I find that it is the practice of lifting every thought up to God that leads me to thirst to be alone with Him.  As I pray throughout the day something will catch my breath and I feel compelled to meet with HIm NOW.  And I do, but not always in the sacred way I envision best.  Instead I’m bowing my head in the grocery store as I wait in line, in the car as I am driving (scary, I agree), or I excuse myself and go to the bathroom for privacy.  Nothing feels very holy about it but it is real.  Then there are THOSE times, those hours when I am completely alone with Him and I can almost feel His breath.  Nothing compares.

If you think about it, both require maturity though we tend to think of being alone on the mountain camped out with God as more ‘sacred’. A ‘grown-up’ in prayer though, will probably do both.

And this is where formulas and life separate.  At some point I realized that I will not be the epitome of sacred life and that is okay.  I rest on God’s pull on my life.  I ceased relying on doing things ‘the perfect way’ and now trust that if I respond to Him in all things He will perfect my communion.  My prayer life is probably going to be a little different from yours and that shouldn’t freak any of us out.  None of us have a corner on the perfect way to pray because there is no perfect way.  Well, okay, Jesus had it down.  He did it perfectly.  So let’s take a look at what He says.

It is interesting that when Jesus taught the disciples to pray He did not say, “every day get on your knees for at least 1/2 an hour and pray for every conceivable need you can think of.  While you are doing that try to feel my presence.”  But that is exactly how we try to mature in our prayer life, through content, time and experience.

The Our Father prayer can not be duplicated daily in our lives by following its structure.  We pray that prayer when we truly enter into those phases of communication with God throughout the day….and it may not be all at once in one big sit down prayer.

But we must guard ourselves.  I am always fearful in posts such as this that I am providing an excuse for not doing something.   I felt the same way when I posted The Heart of Christian Devotions.  This is not the case.  Continual prayer is not careless wishing in your head.  It is pointed, directed, leaning.  It is hard to explain but I think one knows if they are truly doing it or not.  It does not always lead to a feeling of closeness but it always produces awareness.

Prayer is not easily fit into a mold, in fact it can’t be.  It is one of the richest disciplines I have thought deeply about.  I believe that one of the signs of a mature prayer life is that it is expressed in various ways, not under compulsion but out of response and need.

We are still and quiet, letting Him speak to our spirit.  We are loud and knocking, searching for Him first in all things.   We pray continually in desperation and peace.  We pray with stride as we rest upon Him.

One last thought to get the guilt off of your back for not praying for Aunt Sally everyday.  If we fail to pray for Aunt Sally or the Walmart checkout lady, or whomever… not all is lost, BUT, if we fail to be in communion with God when He seeks to bring our attention to those people….we have missed a grand opportunity indeed.  Our prayers aren’t answered simply because we mutter them.  Our prayers are answered because we seek God’s will, are mindful of his presence and purpose and are in a constant dialogue with Him about such things.  Our prayers are not about getting things accomplished….this is the way man thinks….our prayers are about dependence, oneness, presence and aligning ourselves with His will.  It is in that ‘being’ that deeds are done.

*The original preview of this video can be found here: Coffee with Jesus    After communicating with staff at Worship House I was told I could use the preview video in my post however wordpress.com does not allow me to directly embed from their site.  Hence the less clear (copied?) version.
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27 Comments

Posted by on November 18, 2013 in Spiritual Growth

 

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27 responses to “Grown Up Prayer

  1. dsholland

    November 19, 2013 at 7:56 am

    “I am always fearful in posts such as this that I am providing an excuse for not doing something.”

    In his book, Virtue Reborn (good book BTW), Tom Wright talks about how the “why” of what we do matters. A moment of thought confirms this, God looks at the heart.

    I enjoy your posts because they also reach for the “why”.

    It occurs to me that if we are looking for an excuse not to do something, well most of us have plenty of practice coming up with our own. And aren’t those always the best ones anyway?

    Consider yourself encouraged to continue to write.

    Thanks,

    David

     
    • Kris

      November 19, 2013 at 11:48 pm

      David,

      What a pleasure to hear from you again. It feels good to be back with my thoughts and I appreciate your encouragement, as always.

      I will look at ‘Virtue Reborn’ as I value your recommendations. Presently I am reading ‘Early Christian Fathers’ by Cyril Richardson, but once I’m through that I will most likely want a change of scenery so I’m happy to have a suggestion of where to go next.

      I have to add that your thought on my posts ‘reaching for the why’ made me stop and think. I guess I never realized I did that but once I reflected on it I could see what you were saying and not just in my writing. Unfortunately, I also ask why do I have to go only 65 mph, why can’t I bring food into this park, why do I have to send birthday cards, why do I have to……etc. If I am cast in a mold and there are others like me, I’d have to say that a questioning heart like mine must also be careful not to be a challenging, anti-rule/establishment heart. A chink in my being I am very aware of.

      Blessings David, and thanks again for interacting with me!

       
  2. lessonsbyheart

    November 20, 2013 at 3:42 pm

    The video…wow! I didn’t know anyone captured my prayers on video. Don’t do this as often, but hate to say that it continues to be true.

    This is the part I’m working on: “if we fail to be in communion with God when He seeks to bring our attention to those people….we have missed a grand opportunity indeed.”

    Thanks for a great post.

    \o/

     
    • Kris

      November 20, 2013 at 11:04 pm

      …..and thank you for getting me back in the ring….

       
  3. Rene Yoshi

    November 20, 2013 at 9:47 pm

    Wow… That video was so eye-opening! One of my thoughts when he was going through his list of people to ‘lift up’ was he did it as if he didn’t realize Jesus Himself knows each one of them and their needs already. Like you said, “If we fail to pray for Aunt Sally or the Walmart checkout lady, or whomever… not all is lost, BUT, if we fail to be in communion with God when He seeks to bring our attention to those people….we have missed a grand opportunity indeed.”

    Although I don’t always ask the question, sometimes when I ‘lift someone up’ in prayer, sometimes I ask the Lord to help me see them as He does or to give me wisdom to know how I might be of help to them.

    The other thing I appreciated about what you said is the subject of formulas. Sometimes in relationships, people seem to want some sort of formula for love. “Just tell me what to do, and I’ll do it,” can be a way of saying, “I don’t really want to take the time to get to know you, but I want to keep our relationship, and I want you to like me, so just give me a formula I can follow, and we’ll both be happy.” I think we sometimes do that with Jesus, too. [sigh] Thank you so much for this post, Kris. May I reblog it possibly or at least the video?

     
    • Kris

      November 20, 2013 at 10:48 pm

      Rene, feel free to do with this post as you see fit. If you choose to just use the video may I suggest you also give the information for the original preview which I included at the bottom of my post? I worked for hours trying to embed straight from the Worship House site to no avail. If you can figure out how to directly embed it in a post please enlighten me! If you go with your own thoughts, I’ll be eager to read what you have to say. Any link back to mine would also be appreciated but not necessary.

      As for your last thought, you convicted me. You hit me square in the eye with something I have been doing in my marriage. In ways it is struggling and I’m growing tired. I would love to just come up with an agreed upon checklist we could both abide by and cease putting forth so much effort…and I confess I have actively looked for just such a formula. I will pray over what you have said tonight.

       
      • Rene Yoshi

        November 21, 2013 at 6:48 am

        Aww, thank you, Kris. I know what it’s like to struggle in a marriage and how tiring it can be. Even praying can be difficult when we feel like we have prayed and cried out and prayed and fasted and prayed some more, even for our own hearts to be changed. I didn’t mean to hit you square in the eye, or even to hit you at all. [soft chuckle] I am joining you in prayer.

         
  4. Rene Yoshi

    November 21, 2013 at 7:14 am

    Reblogged this on Sweet Rains and commented:
    The video in this blog post is eye-opening and the post itself insightful. This could change what you think about prayer and your relationship with Jesus.

     
    • Kris

      November 22, 2013 at 12:39 am

      I am glad you shared the video as I thought it was powerful too. May God see fit to produce an abundance of fruit through your heart and by extension, your blog!

       
      • Rene Yoshi

        November 22, 2013 at 8:43 am

        Thank you so much! May He do the same through your heart and by extension your blog. 🙂

         
  5. blessedart1111

    November 21, 2013 at 11:42 am

    Kris that video is a great way to illustrate how many of us may spend our prayer time with God. That really gave me the opportunity to look at my relationship with the Father and assess its present status. This post was very insightful and long but every bit worth the read.

    Thank you for taking out time to write it Kris. I must admit there are times when I do all the talking and requesting without even waiting for feedback. When I stop to think about it , It must seem like putting in a order at the fast food drive through but forgetting to pick up the order at the window. And I must raise my hand to say I’ve been a participant of the random wishes being flung in the air with “Dear God” in front of them. Although, I wouldn’t call them random wishes, more like a heartfelt prayer on the go;=)

    My knees aren’t calloused but that’s not what makes the difference for me personally. Nor does the amount of time spent praying, where I pray or how long and exhausting I’ll be if I cry out and go through such emotions lifting up everyone I’ve come in contact with for the last week for it to feel like I got a prayer through. What does matter to me and what I’ve garnerd from your post is that I haven’t been giving God my personal best. Yes, I talk to God all the time and everywhere
    whether it be in the car, shower or while driving and I love it! Yet I haven’t been giving ear to hear what the Holy Spirit is saying to me.

    But thank God through your writing I am today clearly made aware of the ways in which I am not acknowledging God’s presence at times or seeking His will oppose to seeking my wants and what I think should be. I feel extremely blessed to recieve this revelation on today. Just for it to be confirmed over and over again how much my Father loves me that he would take out the time and show me me. So, I repent and seek to be more intentional in my prayer life, more mindful and grateful for the opportunities to bask in His presence, and aligned in His will. Thanks be unto God! and thank you Kris for this awesome post of insight and deliverance!

    My apologies for the long comment which I must say is HIGHLY unusual in fact I’ve NEVER left a post more than a paragraph long;-).

    Thanks you again for sharing and continue to allow the Lord use you!

    Blessedart

     
    • Kris

      November 22, 2013 at 12:27 am

      Blessedart, I am always excited when I see new faces and I am glad we have bumped into each other. I love you already because you were honest with me…my post was too long….and I do love you for that! (For the record, I knew I was reaching deep into the willingness of readers to read but I published anyways. That’s what bold print is for…the skimmers!)

      Your response to this post which took me over two weeks to formulate, think through, and challenge every sentence I typed, made it worth the effort. Thank you.

      Although I wrote it, I would be amiss if I didn’t say that I was challenged too. That is the rough edge we constantly scrape against when we aren’t perfect. There is always room for growth.

      I look forward to getting to know you more. Thank you for your thoughts.

       
      • blessedart1111

        November 22, 2013 at 10:00 pm

        You’re so Welcome Kris. I look forward to talking with again soon!

        Blessedart

         
  6. blessedart1111

    November 21, 2013 at 2:20 pm

    I’m back again;=) I’m so excited about the content of this post I decided to come back and let you know that I will be reblogging this post on Simple Life Blog site so that I can share what wonderful insight and revelation this was for me with other bloggers .

    Blessedart

     
  7. blessedart1111

    November 21, 2013 at 2:21 pm

    Reblogged this on Simply Life.

     
    • Kris

      November 22, 2013 at 12:41 am

      I am so glad! Worship House did a wonderful job with this video and I am thrilled to see it getting out there. May God work through you and your blog!

       
      • blessedart1111

        November 22, 2013 at 10:04 pm

        Thank you so much for that for it is also my personal prayer;-)

        You selected the perfect video for that post. God did that and I hope it gets around the blog community and even outside. Really, that post and video worked together for the good of me who loves God. LOL .

        I thank you for being open and yielded for God to use you in that. I know it is being a blessing to many people.

        Blessedart

         
  8. Heather Mertens @ 40YearWanderer

    November 21, 2013 at 4:31 pm

    I think I’ve read this post twice now. 🙂
    It’s really great.
    I have come to understand living in prayer and wouldn’t have made it this far in life with out it. I just know He is there every minute. So I try to stay I tune to Him dependent on His Holy Spirit. Love living that way!

     
    • Kris

      November 22, 2013 at 12:49 am

      I do too. I feel continual prayer, or living in prayer as you put it, to be the meat of my Christian prayer life. The extent that it is continual dictates how I am walking. The times of solitude are amazing but often more like a blissful vacation whose affects can peter out quickly once I return to the daily grind. Thank you for commenting!

       
  9. lilkaraphael

    November 21, 2013 at 10:40 pm

    Thank you for a very powerful post. “if I respond to Him in all things and He will perfect my communion,” so very well said!
    I think we often strive for perfection instead of allowing God to perfect what we strive for.

     
    • Kris

      November 22, 2013 at 1:06 am

      I am grateful that you took the time to comment because it introduced me to you and your blog. What a joy it was to read through many of your posts! I am looking forward to reading more.

      Your comment was a good one. Here’s another spin on it: We strive for our IDEA of perfection and in so doing, often frustrate the perfection God has in mind.

      Blessings.

       
      • lilkaraphael

        November 22, 2013 at 9:04 am

        You nailed it! Our idea of perfection is often so far from it! I am glad we found each other 🙂 Have a wonderful weekend and Be Blessed!

         
  10. blessedart1111

    November 26, 2013 at 9:37 pm

    Hi! I’ve nominated you for the Lovely Blog Award! Stop by
    Simply Life Blog to get your award!!

    Blessedart

     
  11. Kris

    November 27, 2013 at 2:12 am

    Blessed Art, I am deeply touched. I really am. Although a part of me wants to stay away from these awards as I am never quite sure what to do when they surface, I am always incredibly humbled that another would call out this site as worthy to be mentioned. Kingsgrass has a bit of a different feel than the daily blog and these types of acknowledgements don’t seem to naturally fit. However, I am thinking of a way to accept your honor in a manner consistent with what Kingsgrass is all about. Thank you so much, from the bottom of my heart, for encouraging me and inspiring me with your own walk.

     
  12. LightWriters

    November 27, 2013 at 9:33 am

    Reblogged this on LightWriters and commented:
    How do you connect with God…? This message and video clip from Kingsgrass.wordpress.com delivers what it means to be ‘growing up’ in the Lord and in prayer. Be blessed!

     
  13. Kris

    December 3, 2013 at 1:04 am

    LightWriters, I spent some time last night looking through your blog and loved what I saw. Your posts are encouraging and true. The poetry is beautiful and I can relate to it. I am honored that you found something here as well.

     

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