In the event of an emergency, please feel free to dial 9-1-1 on my behalf. Seriously, if I keel over on the walking trail, I don’t have any quarrel with any person in the vicinity making that call. I will not interrogate you to determine whether you have some elevated status with the local paramedics that will ensure they drive faster, turn up the volume on the sirens or administer first aid more skillfully.
The truth is, you have the ability to communicate the emergency. Your willingness to make the call and even stay at my side while we wait for their response is a gift I would cherish.
So why is it that in Christian circles we idolize certain people as our preferred “dialers” for prayer? You may know someone you consider a prayer warrior, and that’s great. I’ve heard there are some folks who are called to pray, spending hours each day in organized, focused and fervent prayer. I think they are called monks; unless I choose prayer over sleep (and no one wants that on a regular basis, trust me) I don’t have hours each day to devote to focused, on my knees, fervent prayer.
However, I do have a unique relationship with God. He is my Father, he calls me friend. While I often wonder that he doesn’t tire of my repeated pitiful pleas for all manner of intervention, I know he does hear and ultimately answer my prayers.
Yesterday I was telling a friend that I don’t have a prayer journal. In that moment, I think I was hoping she would tell me that was the missing link. I’ve struggled – at times violently – with the right approach to prayer. I want so much to follow a formula for guaranteed success.
I’ve been intimidated by the pious pray-ers who swoop in and take over the “serious” praying. Asking for safe travel or the healing of a broken bone? Any old pray-er will do. But when you need a miracle? Call in the experts. Only they have the right words, the best connection because of their superior skills and apparent hot line to the throne room.
But when asked how to pray, Jesus made it pretty simple. And just before he gave the disciples the model prayer, he spoke to the issue of the pious “prayer warriors”:
The world is full of so-called prayer warriors who are prayer-ignorant. They’re full of formulas and programs and advice, peddling techniques for getting what you want from God. Don’t fall for that nonsense. This is your Father you are dealing with, and he knows better than you what you need. With a God like this loving you, you can pray very simply.
Matthew 6:7-9, The Message
Back to my friend, her response was not unlike that of Jesus. When I whined about confessed my struggle she simply said “No one is closer to your God than you.” #truth
Here is my real struggle, my friend. I want to pray for you. I want you to know that whether you are trying to get into a new preschool or struggling to conceive, I want to pray with and for you.
I’ll readily admit that there might be someone who prays more often and with more eloquence than I. But I’m walking with you; I’m right here and HE is right there, waiting for my simple ask.
Perhaps we perceive that these pious pray-ers have some sort of unique relationship with the Father such that their prayers are louder and more skilled than ours, thereby ensuring they get faster and better responses.
To quote Jen Hatmaker, that’s horse-crappery. Given a desperate need, I’m going with the person who is next to me; the person who is walking by my side, who will not only make the call, but wait with me for the response.
So, can I pray for you, my friend? And will you pray for me?
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If you want to read more on prayer,
I highly recommend my friend Jame Amerine’s recent post: