Monday, November 28, 2011

How Do I Stop Saying Lame Prayers?

Have you ever felt like a wimp when you pray? Your prayer was trying to enjoy a day at the beach, not doing anybody any harm. Then without warning, someone else says a prayer that walks by and kicks sand in your prayer's face. Doesn't it make you want to feed your prayer raw eggs and give it an album by Survivor?

A few weeks ago, I told a woman at my church she didn't have to feel self-conscious about the way she prayed. Prayer doesn't need oratorical magic. I've heard plenty of stories where people prayed stumbling, half-thought-out prayers and saw God move powerfully. John Wimbur once told a story of a woman who couldn't see. She asked one of the church leaders to pray for her and the man misheard her request. So he prays for God to heal her from the flu, or something, and God restored her sight. I mean, shouldn't that make us feel more confident in God to answer our prayers, even if they don't have a set of free weights?

But I've felt like a wimp when I pray. I don't know how else to describe it. I know that Jesus gave his followers authority in Luke 9:1-2 and Mark 16:17-18, but I don't always pray as if I had that authority. Sometimes, I hear myself asking God to please heal someone or to restore a marriage and yet I don't feel very authoritative.

I wonder if I'm still unlearning my childhood lessons on prayer. The "God, if you would just..." or "Be with them, Lord..." schools of prayer. What if I tried a little more boldness, tried to pray like the people in Acts? Wouldn't it be crazy to hear someone throw out a "Be healed!" during a prayer circle?

But what if it came out wrong? Well, what if they've all been coming out wrong? I have the feeling God already gives us a lot of grace. Why wouldn't He overlook stumbling prayers for the flu and heal a pair of eyes anyway? If I'm listening to the Holy Spirit as I pray, I think I can expect Him to tell me how to pray with greater power and authority. Maybe my first question should be, "Lord, how do I pray for this?" Then it's only a matter of following God's direction in obedience.

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