Learning the Language of Prayer
Written By Tim Spanburg
Praying puts us at risk of getting involved in God’s conditions. Be slow to pray. Praying most often doesn’t get us what we want but what God wants, something quite at variance with what we conceive to be in our best interests. – Eugene Peterson
Be slow to pray. Not typically the advice you hear from a pastor. However, I concur with Pastor Eugene Peterson, and as a pastor myself I would give you the same advice. Be slow to pray, especially when praying for people you are convinced are wrong, and you are right. This is a sure sign God is about to go to work on you.
When I was in high school, I got into a major fight with one of my best friends. It started after one of the best rounds of golf in my entire life. I shot a 34 for 9 holes, 2 under par, and I felt great. Excited, I told my friend about how well I played, and his sarcastic response stopped me cold.
“That’s great Tim…You are the best at everything.” It was brutal and I felt it was entirely uncalled for.
We were close friends, both went to the same church, both leaders in the student ministry, but clearly something was off between us. I was convinced that my only problem was that I was a better golfer than him, and he needed to mature and deal with it. Once he could handle how incredible a golfer I was, we would be fine once again.
Our youth pastor and I talked about it, and he encouraged me to pray for my friend.
It was bad advice because as I prayed, as I brought my vision of my friend in line with God’s, I found some deep flaws within my own heart. Those flaws had caused serious hurt for my friend. God also enlarged my heart toward my friend – towards his hurts, insecurities and questions. I began praying and everything changed.
I began praying because I thought that would help my friend lighten up. Instead, I found myself in a world of God clarifying my vision of friendship, humbling my heart, and showing what it is for our God to love someone and draw near to them.
I told you. Be slow to pray—because it puts us at risk of getting involved in God’s conditions.
The result of all this praying was a change in my heart, leading to reconciliation with my friend. We shared our hearts, we broke bread, we learned that the moment where he snapped at me had a lot of deep roots. As he explained those roots to me, my heart grew in love for him. What started as a broken moment between two friends became a holy moment between two brothers in Christ.
I hope this story encourages you to go pray for someone you are experiencing dissonance with. Not because by praying God will get caught up in your business, but because when you pray, you will be caught up in His.
Week 9 of 10 Prayer
Take time today to pray through Philippians 4:11b-13. Make it your own. Pray God’s words back to Him. One of the best ways to meditate on God’s word is to pray through it. Let the concepts, ideas, and images marinate in your soul as you internalize the Word.
Each week we take time to learn more about the disciplines. Take the next 5 minutes to get an introduction to WHY we need to learn MORE about prayer from Andrew Jones.
Take time to reread Philippians 4:10-23 from Sunday. Review your notes. What is God bringing back to mind from His Word?