Friday, August 10, 2012

Politics of Public Prayer

Alternate title: how I got over myself and learned how to talk to God normally.

Hey guys, nice to see you again.  Did you notice the alliteration in the post title? Amazing, huh? Like magic...but less magical and more like a literary device.


So, last week over one hundred people clicked over to my humble little blog after I commented on Jon Acuff's Stuff Christians Like.  If you are one of those people, thank you, we should be friends you and I.

Anyways, back to story!

So his post was on avoiding being called on to pray in front of the group.  This was my comment:

Here's why people don't ask me to pray in public. My prayers are short and lack all religious terminology. Here's an example.
"David, close us in prayer." "Okay. Hey Jesus, thanks for letting us do this thing, man. It was super cool of you, Talk to ya later, bye."
This was the truth.  Still is.  Anyway, this silly little confession of simplicity inspired a long list of replies and visits and it has me thinking...
What about, you ask? About THE POLITICS OF PUBLIC PRAYER! I answer, alluding to the title of this very blog!

Come with me, dear reader, come with me to the past, into my memories.  Comfy? Good, let's begin.  Here we are in my very first Sunday School class.  Hear the teacher ask for volunteers to close the class in prayer? Notice no one volunteers?  She calls on me "Dave, why don't you close us out in prayer?" "because I don't know how"  Aww little preschool me is so cute.  Our teacher takes this moment to teach, the way teachers do.  "All prayer is, is talking to God, that's all".
Now come with me, dear reader, further into my memories, when I am eighteen and serious about my relationship with God.  Serious and little cocky about it, even.  I tell everyone I know "it's not about religion man, it's about relationship!" like I'm the first person to ever figure this out, and future me will look back at this passionate-to-the-point-of-alienating-everyone-else-in-the-world me and shake his head.  I hope I get called to pray, I jump at the chance, volunteer before I'm asked and begin "OOOh most holy and gracious loving and kind heavenly father who is in heaven Lord Je-SUS!" oh yeah I hit that second syllable of "Jesus" like a Pentecostal preacher.  "Oh Lord, we are nothing but worms compared to your most holy ways, because you are so amazing" I am turning this prayer into a sermon, I am unconsciously turned this prayer away from God and towards the people in this circle.  I am making points, encouraging the others, I hear them say "amen" or "mmhm" or my favorite "yes, Lord".  Oohh, I think to myself, I am totally winning at prayer, no one else gets this kind of response...and then it hits me.  The truth.  I have been preaching at others and not talking to God. My voice cuts out.  I stammer.  I'm humbled.  I end with a pathetic "uhh...thanks, that's it."
Years later I am at Thanksgiving at my inlaws.  I am asked to pray for the food.  I hear people groan...see this written on their faces "here we go, they asked the religious one to pray.  I may as well get comfortable."  I bow my head and say "Hey God, Thanks for the food, thanks for family.  You're awesome. Amen"  The people literally cheer for that prayer. 
Here we are back at the present, that was a fun trip.  I hope you learned a thing or two from my embarrassing past.  We're better friends now, right?  If you're curious how I pray, I can tell you this, it almost always begins with "Hey God..." and  almost always ends with "'re awesome! I love you allot!"
Love you guys. Hugs!

1 comment:

  1. That is just how my prayer life has unfolded. From amped up "look at me I'm SO awesome in my big words and pouring out spiritual ooze" to sometimes even calling God dude when I pray. It was learning that it really is a conversation between two lovers.

    Now we're good and I don't look like a Pharisee when I pray. I like that.