Having a Chinese student living with us has challenged me immensely. It has challenged my geographic and cultural knowledge, my already weak culinary skills (I just ordered a Chinese cookbook) and my language and communication skills (I made cauliflower rice for Cedric after having a long conversation about how much he loved it only to find out he didn’t know what it was and he didn’t like it). Perhaps the biggest challenge however, is realizing how pathetic my prayer life is.
I often wonder what Cedric thinks when we’re praying. Who are we praying to and do we believe God will reallyprotect us, help us with that test or give us strength when we’re tired? Unfortunately, our prayers…lack. They lack passion; often we repeat the same monotone, holy-sounding, mindless phrases like, “please bless so and so.” They lack belief; nothing else is helping Chris’ back so what the heck…let’s pray. They lack intimacy; we pray out of habit. If we really believe we were talking to our best friend and Creator the universe, really believed that, our prayers would be different.
Since becoming conscious of my repetitive, semi-lifeless prayers, steeped heavily in doubt, I’ve been more careful. Careful because I detest going through the motions, but also careful for Cedric. The last thing I want to do is show Cedric praying doesn’t matter, that God isn’t listening, doesn’t answer us or worse yet, doesn’t exist. So now in addition to boring, unbelieving and unimpassioned prayers, I’m also now praying out of fear. Awesome.
Remember the politically correct phrase, “there are no dumb questions?” In Christian-ese there is a saying, “there isn’t a wrong way to pray.” Although I believe these clichés to an extent, I also believe learners evolve. Just as asking if two plus two equals four is a dumb question if you are sixteen and in calculus, I believe once we have been a Christian for any substantial amount of time our prayers should be more “advanced.”
So how do I advance? I don’t know, but I’m doing a few things. I’m reading a book called Celebration of Disciplineabout prayer and meditation. I’m also trying to read specific Bible passages about prayer and I’m asking God for help (both novel ideas, I know). Although there is no wrong way to pray God is challenging me, because he loves me too much to leave me where I’m at, to pray with more belief and passion.
I’m not sure if I’ll learn to make Moo Shoo Pork, but I’m going to figure out why my prayer life is so dull, rote and lifeless. I’ll be blogging about what God teaches me along the way, but if you have the sneaking suspicion your prayers also put the Lord to sleep, I hope you’ll start questioning your prayers, your beliefs and the motivation behind your prayers, too. I figure we have nothing to lose and everything to gain.