8 Words to Rescue Your Prayer Life

hard-to-pray1I suck at praying.

Perhaps no pastor struggles so seriously to humbly and persistently place himself at throne of grace as the fool penning this post.

In the realm of prayer, I am consistently inconsistent and faithfully unfaithful.

Don’t get me wrong: If I tell you that I will pray for you, my conscience will force me to do so. I’m not fake; I’m just weak.

Recently my desire to be a better pray-er has grown more desperate. I have been casting hooks into every pond I can find, in the hope of discovering some rhythm or technique that provide me a way forward. Journaling, silence, Lectio Divina, listening prayer, the daily office, prayer guides, praying scripture – if there is a way to try it, there is a way to screw it up. Trust me. On this I am an authority. Yet I am trying.

Suffice it to say that I am currently being guided by a prayer tool Intended to help me fall into a steady march (consistency), while also providing me words to pray (content).

Last night, I was given this phrase to pray:

“Let my bones be steeped in your love.”

Oh.

My.

Lord.

If a prayer life can be built around eight words, I may have just found them. For real. Here’s why I think you should also consider making this single sentence your own.

“Let my bones be steeped in your love.”

bones insideThere’s something unusually earthy about bones. When I was 19, I discovered a skeleton on a canoe trip. It was in a remote cave, and who knew how long it had been there! That’s the thing about bones. They last. A long time. Skin and tissue and muscle break down and fade away — and what gets left behind? Bones! Or consider cancer reports. News of spots or tumours or lumps can be followed up with optimism over treatment options. But sometimes the voice adds, “It’s moved to her bones.” Replies get quieter, if spoken at all. What gets into the bones is there to stay.

Beyond their resilience to decay, bones are wondrously and simultaneously lightweight and strong, fairly key qualities for an effective skeleton. Check out the inside of a bone, and you see part of the secret — they appear sponge-like, slightly resembling the porous center of a Crunchie bar.

“Let my bones be steeped in your love.”

steepingFor the vast majority of us, “steeping” is a tea term. It speaks of a soaking that extracts flavour or mixes substances. Within the prayer above, God’s love is part of the recipe. In fact, there are only two ingredients. The other? My bones!

My Crunchie-bar bones are to take their place in the vats of God’s love. A soaking is to take place, so intense in time and temperature that my inner texture and tone change — just as a wet sponge appears so obviously unlike a dry sponge. The soaking invites fullness and overflow. Something of God’s core — His faithful and enduring love — pours over me as I pore over it. Yet this “poring” is deeper than intellectual consideration, as if a few moments of thought might deliver me into the greatest mystery of the universe — divine love. Remember, this is “steeping”. Tea doesn’t try. Hot water doesn’t clutch and grab flavour and nutrients from the leaves it holds. Those same leaves don’t push and press to facilitate the transfer. Tea doesn’t strain. Tea just steeps. It settles in and sits. If tea breathed, it would breathe deeply and slowly, as if each breath had subtle yet sufficient power to help the steeping take place.

The whole prayer begins with “let”. There is recognition of a somewhat passive posture. We cannot make this happen. One cannot steep by force. It’s gifted and given, not even like a box one unwraps from which an item removed and enjoyed. Once again, this is steeping. Two substances unwind into each other, with surrender and vulnerability. An undoing takes place toward a “new doing”. This gift is given and opened insofar as we are given and opened.

“Let my bones be steeped in your love.”

Allow the core of my being, the lasting and living frame within the person that I am, steadily soak up the empowering and enabling reality of Your love, Father. Free me from “frantic” and insulate me from “insecure” by filling the cavities of my inner chambers with revelation of Your affectionate faithfulness.

“Let my bones be steeped in your love.”

Can eight words rescue your prayer life? That’s tough to say. Would you experience a rebirth of sorts if your bones were steeped in God’s love? That seems like a given. You’ve got one mouth. Now you’ve got one sentence. Perhaps you’re perfectly set up for what needs to happen next in your prayer life.

Steep away, my friends!

Zemanta Related Posts ThumbnailYOUR TURN: Your input makes this post better!

  • What have you tried in the way of “prayer experiments”? What helped? What didn’t?
  • Any particular prayers or phrases that help you focus?

[You can subscribe to this blog via RSS or email, in the upper right corner of this page. Or find me on Twitter: @JasonBandura.]

Introducing Christopher Georges

Some time ago, I was hunting for some music that might be ideal during quiet times of prayer. Frequently called “soaking music”, this genre can quickly overwhelm the newbie with unfamiliar titles and artists. Allow me to share an unearthed gem with the rest of you.

Christopher Georges is a gifted musician, creating beautifully meditative pieces. Two of his tracks are each 30 minutes long, creating great atmosphere for significant chunks of time. Those tracks can be purchased on iTunes for $10 each. Even better, Christopher has posted both tracks on YouTube!

So the next time you are online and in need of some musical focus, hit play on one of the videos below, and be grateful for a faithful servant named Christopher. 🙂

Praying With Gratitude

[In my January 1, 2015 post, I christened this the “Year of Learning” here on the blog. Each post, I’ll aim to share something recently discovered (or re-discovered) in the hope that you might add my learning to your own discoveries and make double-moves forward and upward this year!]

In her book “Jesus Calling“, Sarah Young shares these reflections on prayer as if being spoken by Jesus himself:

“When you bring me prayer requests, lay out your concerns before me. Speak to me candidly; pour out your heart. Then thank me for the answers that I have set into motion long before you can discern the results. When your requests come to mind again, continue to thank me for the answers that are on the way. If you keep on stating your concerns to me, you will live in a state of tension. When you thank me for how I am answering your prayers, your mindset becomes much more positive. Thankful prayers keep your focus on my presence and my promises.”

Man Holding Pray Word In PalmWhile I know the feeling of need that drives a person to voice prayer requests repeatedly, I believe that Sarah is onto something here, when she considers the way in which repetitious requesting impact our hearts.

She describes a feeling of tension. Within Scripture, Jesus advises us that a type of prayer is available to us – a type of prayer that looks considerably different than pagan prayers in which words and wishes are repeated tirelessly. He urges us to pray out of an assumption that our hearer is a thoroughly good Father, who is well aware of what we need but enjoys our asking all the same.

And this is why gratitude within prayer is so key. It rescues our tone from resembling a slave begging for favour from a stingy master, and it frees us to come as a deeply loved child comes to a kind father.

Gratitude helps us pray to the real God, out of who we really are before Him.

And that is something I need to learn over and over.

[On an aside, my 6-year-old determined what image I should use today. Count this as our first joint effort on the blog. :-)]

How Children Pray

photoI was awakened early this morning by our one-year-old (first face in the photo to the right) calling my name, “Dada! Dada!” I entered her room and rocked her back to sleep, taking the wake-up call as my cue to head downstairs to begin some quiet in Scripture and prayer.

I read my scheduled passage, from the book of Numbers, and began stumbling into prayer. Again, our little one cried out my name from her crib, “Dada! Dada!” As I rocked her again, I pondered the barely-veiled prayer teaching within her morning cries.

And I longed for such simplicity in my prayer life.

How easily I make things difficult. How sharp are my skills to dull communication with the Father! Why is it so hard to merely call His name “like I mean it”, then to nuzzle in and draw from Him all the love, warmth, peace, and security that I need?

Far too often, my Bible serves as a barrier to deep prayer. I know the obvious truth that it need not be this way, but my weak mind is quickly pulled into the analyzing of text and the idolizing of ideas at the outrageous cost of intimate interaction with the One who is both revealed in Scripture and far too large for any leather-bound book.

There is something to be said for simply shouting, “Dada! Dada!”

leaveacommentYOUR TURN: Your input makes this post better!

  • What prayer barriers have your experienced or overcome?
  • How would you suggest that prayer can be simplified for the better?

[You can subscribe to this blog via RSS or email, in the upper right corner of this page.]

Truth on Tap

One of God’s truest gifts to any of us is a stiff sip of realistic self-knowledge.

For Christians who embrace the Lenten season, there is a wilderness consciousness that takes hold, an active stepping into an environment–or at least a mindset–that strips away life’s non-essentials. Mirages in the desert often revolve around things we desperately need (ie: water or a place to rest). The Lenten “wilderness” experience often serves to strip away illusions of what we need, or even who we are.

Along these lines, Teresa of Avila had a favorite metaphor:

“The soul is like water in a glass: water looks very clear if the sun does not shine on it; but when the sun shines on it, it seems to be full of dust particles.”

waterIn Psalm 139, the writer celebrates God’s complete knowledge of each one of us. Yahweh is the One who has knit us together before any eye beheld us. He goes before us, comes behind us, and hovers around us. Even still, the psalmist–in the spirit of Teresa–closes by praying that God will search his deepest parts and unearth any offensive and life-stealing tendencies. There is an awareness of just how deep self-deception can go.

If prayer is a struggle, perhaps you have now discovered a rock-solid starting block from which to take your first strides.  Begin by pleading for purity of soul, for an inner substance that is whole and clear.  Ask the Revealer to provide you with vivid and truthful exposure of all that lies within you. Some will be surprising, some downright shocking. Parts of the experience will affirm you; others will infirm you.

Either way, “the truth shall set you free” is perhaps true first as it pertains to discovery about ourselves. At God’s pub, He’s got truth on tap.

And He’s happy to pour a pint for those who are seeking.

YOUR TURN: What has God revealed to you about yourself? Which revelations have been encouraging? Which have been humbling? How have any such revelations served as “truth that set you free”? Your input makes this post better!

[You can subscribe to this blog by RSS or email, in this page’s upper right corner.]

How Revival Begins with One

Ever heard the name Jeremiah Lamphier?  What about the Fulton Street Revival?

I hadn’t until today.

Six minutes can change that, and it may set you on a path toward revival.

The Position of Power: Time to Kneel

In doing a bit of research about the Moravian movement, I came across this article.  Below is one clip from it that stirs the embers of my all-too-weak, but always-dreaming-to-be-more prayer life.

Seriously, can anything less than people desperately seeking God bring genuine revival on both personal and corporate levels?

From my kitchen chair, a touch after midnight, I vote, “No.”

In May 1727, Count Zinzendorf and the leaders of the community felt God calling them to prayer at a deeper level. They committed themselves to praying round the clock, beginning a 24/7 prayer meeting that lasted over 100 years involving not only the adults but the children of the movement. In August of that the minister at the Sunday morning service was “overwhelmed by the wonderful and irresistible power of the Lord.” A move of God broke out, with people testifying that “hardly knew whether they belonged to earth or had already gone to heaven. We saw the hand of God and were all baptized with his Holy Spirit. The Holy Ghost came upon us and in those days great signs and wonders took place in our midst.” Over 10 years later John Wesley, founder of the Methodist Church visited the community where the revival was still taking place. He experienced a powerful encounter with God that was to shape his own personal relationship with God and his ministry.