08.1 Technologies of change: prayer
Let me set one thing straight right away. There is no right way to pray. The only way we can fail in prayer is to not pray.
What matters most is not how we practice prayer, but that we don’t stop practicing it.
Prayer is a response to God’s personal presence.
Let me set one thing straight right away. There is no right way to pray.
It’s tempting when talking about prayer to jump straight to discussing “methods” as if prayer is a discipline to be mastered like playing the piano or a sport. But the moment we do that we set ourselves up for failure.
The truth is, the only way we can fail in prayer is to not pray. That’s because “prayer” is just a fancy term for conversation with God. And just like your conversations with your friends or your spouse, there are as many different ways to converse as there are relationships and circumstances.
So, we talk to God in one way when we are alone in our rooms, and another way when we are in church, and another when we are scared, or angry, or happy, or just bored and driving in our cars. There is formal prayer and informal prayer. There are “ex corde” prayers (spontaneous prayer “from the heart”) and written prayers, but all the different kinds and methods have one thing in common: they all begin with God attending to me first.
This is the big difference between Christian prayer and every other kind of prayer: God is always the one who moves—who loves—first. Prayer is never me talking into a void, or babbling a bunch of holy sounding words hoping God will notice and approve. No, the fundamental truth of Christian prayer is that God loves me, that he is always directly and personally attending to me, that he has made himself present to me.
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