Friday, March 31, 2017

Uninspired Prayers

 Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.
Philippians 4:6, NIV

As a child in Lutheran school, I memorized Luther’s explanation of the Lord’s prayer. In talking about the address of the prayer Luther says, “With these words God tenderly invites us to believe that He is our true Father and that we are His true children, so that with all boldness and confidence we may ask Him as dear children ask their dear father.”*  Luther’s words have become my inner voice when I think about prayer. I aim to talk to God as I would talk to my dad. Today, though, praying felt like a struggle for me. I found myself stressing over decisions and talking to others about them, but avoiding talking to God.

Today I felt blah. I have so many things on my plate and I just did not feel like praying about them or reading God’s Word. Have you ever felt like that -- a lack of desire for prayer or reading God’s Word? I think that the devil loves my apathy toward prayer and nurtures it whenever he gets the chance. Despite feeling like this, I prayed. It was an uninspiring prayer of “Father, please give me the desire for intimacy with you.” I followed that up with reading from Luke about the time that one of Jesus’ disciples asked him about prayer. Jesus answered:

“Father, hallowed be your name.
Your kingdom come.
Give us each day our daily bread,
and forgive us our sins,

    for we ourselves forgive everyone who is indebted to us.
And lead us not into temptation.”
 Luke 11:2-4 ESV

The Lord’s prayer is the example that Jesus gave of how we can pray. Today in praying the Lord’s prayer, I used Jesus’ very words to talk to God. I praised God’s Holy name. I asked him to work all things for good so that we can be in heaven together someday. I asked the Lord for earthly provision. I asked him to forgive my sins and to help me forgive others. I also asked him to keep me from being tempted. All of this conversation happened even though I felt extremely blah as I approached my prayers today. The Lord’s prayer contains all of those prayers and using it as my prayer helped me to pray despite my emotions. Many of the Psalms also serve as wonderful “go to” prayers for hard days. Hymns and praise songs work wonderfully for this too. 

When I taught small children, I would often say to them “I will say the words and then you can repeat them. We will say ‘Amen’ together. Then my words to God become your words to God.” This is absolutely true for adults too! When we use Bible words, hymns, songs, or poems to talk to God he hears us and listens. The words that we are saying and thinking about can direct our thoughts and our communication. We communicate with other people in so many ways, I think it is only fitting that we also communicate with God in many kinds of prayers.  

As special needs parents, we are especially susceptible to feeling overwhelmed, isolated, and exhausted. Our communion with God is incredibly important in combating this and keeping us focused on the eternal picture. God has given us prayer and his Word as ways to maintain intimacy with him. When we obediently pray and read God’s Word, God WILL increase our desire for him. He will change our hearts. May we each obediently pray and read God’s word so that we grow abundantly in our intimacy with him.

Dear Jesus,  
When your disciples asked you how to pray, you gave them the beautiful example of the Lord’s prayer. Please forgive me when my desire for intimacy with you wanes. Please bless my prayers and renew my desire for you. Amen.

*Luther's Small Catechism, Dr. Martin Luther

1 comment:

  1. This article describes this part of my special needs mom journey. I'm learning so much in the midst of my valley. God bless.