Prayer is one of those slimy subjects that can really stink up the room depending where and how you bring it up. This past week as I was sitting in the salon waiting to get my hair done (something other than my custom Mohawk) there were lots of conversations going around and one got me thinking about prayer especially because the year is still fresh and every other person is on a cleanse or fasting and prayer programme for the standard ten or so days.
Listening to snippets of conversation around me I wondered if prayer is all that it’s cranked out to be. I mean don’t get me wrong I totally believe in the reality that prayer changes things but how does one negotiate the complexities of fellowshipping, worshiping, asking and receiving via prayer?
Prayer is not just about the words
Personally I always thought that prayer was a language I had to learn to help steer God in the right direction, as if sometimes He would get carried away by the scenery on the path for too long then just stop paying attention and I’d have to stay after Him until He snapped out of it. I know it’s political to phrase it this way but I think there are lots of misconceptions about prayer that if we don’t take time to deconstruct we may miss the essence and beauty of a prayerful lifestyle.
Misconception No.1:- The intensity of your problems is directly linked to the amount of time and effort you spend in prayer.
One thing I’ve never understood is why people assume you need to be told to pray about something that is directly affecting you. I mean the thing weighs on you all day and all night and when you finally gather the courage to talk about it you are met with the most insensitive and uninterested response which basically diminishes your desire to pray.
The time it consumes in your mind and the abundance of it in your heart that causes your mouth to speak about it is enough of a prayer to warrant a response.
“In the same way the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans [Romans 8:26].
Maybe instead of going for rhetoric a better way to be a supportive brother is to offer a non judgemental ear and some quality time to work through the details of what’s going on with someone who braves the vulnerability of confiding in you.
Honestly I don’t think our problems are so dramatic that they require endless hours of prayer to solve, I think they require a balanced mixture of the word and good old fashioned faith in action. What we ought to remember is that not every problem is out to get us, some are there to build character, some help to change our wrong mind about something and others become the foundation for great testimonies that change millions of lives.
Misconception No.2: – You are not serious about a response until you do something
I don’t know where we get the nerve to think that there is something we in our limited human capacity can do to influence anything spiritually significant in our lives before God. You hear people saying things like “I’m a spiritual warrior because I have spent X amount of time under X Spiritual Father who is a heavy weight”. It sounds to me like this is someone thinking more highly of themselves than they ought to.
In fact aren’t these the same culprits that make crazy declarations at the beginning of the year about how prosperous you are going to be and how quickly you’ll be walking down the aisle every year and yet come December you find yourself resenting those who have achieved what you have not. Then when you ask about it and the disclaimer is that you didn’t pray enough or the fault is yours somehow or worse still your problem is so serious it requires heavy weights.
Misconception No.4 You have to make detailed lists of topics to pray about and construct “powerful” prayer points for your requests to “break through” the spiritual realm.
I attended a church once that was really big on the concept of prayer points and midnight prayer and you know what? I dreaded prayer time because I knew everyday come midnight the battle would begin on what exactly I was supposed to say and what was the best way to plead my case since obviously God needed a good reason to intervene. People from church would say things like “hausati waroorwa nanhasi? Mmmm makore arikuenda aya Itai serious nekunamata askana” to which I would cringe inwardly and kick myself a little bit harder for failing to get God to move on my behalf.
I’m no guru on prayer but I’m pretty sure that was the opposite effect of having laid down my burden at His feet. I was meant to have peace and live the best life I could live with every new day I was blessed to enjoy but here I was miserably counting down the hours to fight Tyson in the prayer closet and by the time I went back to bed I was more discouraged than when I started the good fight to pray.
We His people perish for lack of knowledge so my 5 second outside of midnight and not very fancily worded prayer from an unkown spiritual light weight today is:
God help us, you know size yemunhu wese ari pasi pano so ndinoti Mwari tigadziriei size yedu yakakwana inoita kuti titambe 2018 takasununguka. Tipei simba rekuramba takatarisira kwamuri nekuti ndimi mune mhinduro yese yatisina uye yatisngakwanise kuti tiwane nenzira dzedu tega..Amen
(Translation: God help us, you know the perfect size that fits all body on this earth, please tailor our perfect size so that we may go through 2018 lighter. Give us the strength to keep looking to you our Provider because you have all the answers that we do not and can never have in our own human capacity. Amen)