We should never make prayer too complicated. … Jesus taught us to come like children to a father. openness, honesty, and trust mark the communication of children with their father. — Richard Foster, Celebration of Discipline
Why do we struggle with such a simple practice? Are we conviced it is meaningless? Most Christians would not admit to that. Are we afraid to be disappointed? Maybe. Are we just not available for prayer? Probably. It is true that it takes effort to pray. It requires something of us. But that does not mean it has to be difficult or over-structured. Foster offers several examples of some different kinds of prayers.
Childlike Prayers are simple, honest, unashamed. Children have excellent imaginations. Maybe it’s time for us to dust off our ability to imagine and picture God in the room with us, listening. Imagine God accomplishing that for which you are praying. Is this some weird way to get God to do something you want? No! It is a way for you to remain focused and specific about your requests.
Focused Prayers are time-limited commitments. One suggestion is to take thirty days and pray for a matter specifically for this length of time. There’s no magic in the number “thirty”. There is, however, purpose and meaning in giving your attention to something in prayer for a specified time.
Parent’s Prayers are something we shouldn’t have to suggest. All Christian parents pray for their children, don’t they? But if you haven’t been doing that, make sure that you are bringing your kids before the Father at all times. Follow the example of Job in this.
Flash Prayers, as Foster explains, are prayers of good will and blessing that you pray silently as you pass strangers. Again, the focus here is that we are living prayerful lives … not just praying here and there. Pray without ceasing!
Pray against evil. Ask God to raise up good to encounter the evil forces at work in the world. Seek His kingdom and the victory over the evil that is present in your own life. Ask also for his protection from evil in your life.
Maybe the most important advice is to pray when you don’t feel like it. I saw a bumper sticker years ago that said: If you don’t feel like praying, talk to God about it. Good thought. I think God is big and powerful enough to hear us say that we are not much in the mood for prayer. My experience is that in the telling of that, a newfound energy for prayer was discovered.
What are some other kinds of prayers you can think of? Does it help you to know that there is not just ‘one right way’ to pray?
If you haven’t read Wade Tannehill’s series on prayer, do so now. I have them printed out. They would make great Bible studies for groups. The series is called, “Can God Be Persuaded to Act?”. #8 is located HERE. You should be able to work your way back to #1 and read them all.
Royce Ogle also has a series on prayer. It has 11 installments, and #11 is HERE.