In Richard Foster’s Book, Prayer, he talks about what prayer is, and also what prayer isn’t. He writes,
Our problem is that we assume prayer is something to master the way we master algebra or auto mechanics. That puts us in the “on-top” position, where we are competent and in control. But when praying, we come “underneath,” where we calmly and deliberately surrender control and become incompetent. “To pray,” write Emilie Griffin, “means to be willing to be naïve.”
Naivety is hard work for proud and accomplished people. It takes discipline to transition yourself out of the ‘I have to know it all’ mentality that is required to look and seem competent at work or with our children. Yet, Foster argues that this transition is important for us to have a healthy prayer life. Can we ever really get there though? In catch-22 fashion, Foster argues that the only way we can get to this prayer-life of surrender is through prayer and by praying honestly about where we are in life. What makes this catch-22 possible is God’s transforming grace that is present in our prayers.
So, this week, I invite you to pray as you are. If you find yourself in need of ‘prayerful incompetence’, then I encourage you to pray this prayer that Foster has provided for us.
“Dear Jesus, how desperately I need to learn to pray. And yet when I am honest, I know that I often do not even want to pray. I am distracted! I am stubborn! I am self-centered! In your mercy, Jesus, bring my “want-er” more in line with my “need-er” so that I can come to want what I need. In your name and for your sake, I pray. Amen. “
Pastor Michael Maroon