No, actually, I want to talk about prayer. I am reading a book called A Praying Life by a man named Paul E. Miller. I am not exaggerating when I tell you that I have an exhaustive library on the topic of prayer...I must have at least 50 books dedicated to that topic (and yes, I've read them all!). Prayer is the highest priority of my life, because it is how I communicate with the One I love and it is my best means of influencing the world we live in. And I would like to really encourage you to go out and purchase this book! (No, I am not being paid to say that!).
Mr. Miller speaks from what is obviously firsthand experience of a Praying Life and also it is obvious that his prayer life has given him a look into God's heart for His people: what kind of a relationship He longs to have with us. I am so frustrated with stilted, artificial sounding prayers that address God as though we were talking to ....I don't know whom, but certainly not our closest friend!! Even people who pray with passion and regularly have terrible habits like interjecting God's name at every pause or talking in formal uptight phrasing that keeps God at a distance. And I find that I am not exempt from self-conscious prayer! What would happen if we only prayed GOD-conscious prayers?
When I was at the Writers' Conference in Philadelphia recently, the director of the conference was a woman who spoke frequently of "Father" and would drift in and out of addressing Him as though He were standing right next to her (which of course, He IS), but it was the "strangest" and most marvelous thing: her tone did not change, her type of wording did not change...just suddenly we would realize that she was praying! It was very funny to me as I looked around and people did not know when to close their eyes and when to open them!! And this struck me as a most admirable way to exist; to constantly converse with the One who loves us most and who never leaves our side....better yet, never leaves our hearts and we do not even have to speak to Him aloud.
I speak to God in my heart in this way; and when I am alone and talking aloud to Him, I also do; but what stops me from doing this all the time? It is fear of being locked up again, people!! Haha, I am ashamed to admit it, but listening to Marlene pray made me realize two things:
- I am too conscious of those who are listening to my prayers . My prayers, while not addressing the people around me, are changed and affected by the presence of those people. I honestly would feel all too self conscious to pray this naturally.
- I am also kept from praying aloud and speaking naturally to God because of the fear of my family who probably WOULD see to it that I was locked up! And the same goes for every other unbeliever I encounter.
But really, What would happen if we prayed this way to our Father and Friend and did not fear the reactions of others? I think, that while they may question our sanity, they would also be envious of such a relationship - that we could have such an intimacy with the One who made everything!
I think also, that we would find our own lives to be powerfully impacted by a life of this kind of prayer. This prayer, this relationship would change us to our very core...and friends, I don't know about you, but that is exactly where I need to be changed. With a constant awareness of the presence of "Father", we could not and would not dare to do the things we do and act like we act which we pull off while we pretend that God is not there and not looking! Jesus, please change my SELF-conscious heart and make it only conscious of YOU!