Learning to pray is a journey. It’s a part of the sanctification process as we become more and more like our Savior. As children, we learned rote prayers and said them at the prescribed moments.
After our profession of faith in Christ, we probably noticed how men and women in Scripture prayed and possibly tried to emulate them. Perhaps we noted the words of Jesus in our Bibles and used them as a kind of structure for our prayer life.
Somewhere along the way, maturing believers begin to long for a relationship with God that easily allows for real communication, regardless of our circumstances. We tire of praying in the flesh and long to be able to pray in the Spirit.
Jason Meyer, a pastor in Minnesota, has a great article on this very subject. He talks about the dangers of praying in the flesh:
“Praying in the flesh calls upon human ability and effort…If we are tongue-tied in prayer, we may try to overcome that difficulty with a stream of many words. Jesus warned us against thinking we would be heard because we use many words (Matthew 6:7). If we struggle with wanting to give up after a short time in prayer, we may focus upon how long we pray. Success in prayer does not depend upon how much time we can log in prayer. Sometimes people try to overcome deadness in prayer by focusing on how well we can pray. We subtly trust in having perfectly composed, doctrinally correct prayers that rely upon the right diction, cadence, language, emotion, or volume.”
Meyer goes on to say:
“One of the key differences here between praying in the flesh and praying in the Spirit is that you don’t feel the need to rush to say anything when you pray in the Spirit. The living reality the Spirit creates is the awareness of God’s presence. Experiencing His presence will seem much more important than any petition you are going to make.”
This week, maybe we all ought to settle into our prayer closet, chair, or bench and respectfully say NOTHING. Instead of trying to find the right words or worrying about how we say them, let’s just focus on being with Him.
Become aware of His presence and just sit there…like two old friends who do not have to talk to be able to communicate. Listen. Sense. Remember. Rest. Pray in the Spirit!