Pitiful, Persistent Prayers

Julian Fałat - Praying Old Man

Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.  Do not quench the Spirit.  (1 Thessalonians 5:16-19)

“I must say my prayers today whether I feel devout or not; but that is only as I must learn my grammar if I am ever to read the poets.”   ―     C.S. Lewis,  A Mind Awake: An Anthology of C. S. Lewis

For some time now, my prayers have been pitiful.  I’m not really sure if you can call them prayers at all.  When is it prayer and when is it just wishful thinking?   Worrying?  Complaining?

I look for words of advice in Scripture.  Here (in the passage above), Paul connects prayer with rejoicing, giving thanks.  What will I rejoice over today?

…. the beauty of an early Spring day.

… a bowl of honey-nut cheerios and warm cup of coffee.

… the promise that God listens to even the most pitiful prayers.

Prayer is to give thanks in all circumstances.

… for my family, even though they are miles away.

… for job prospects, though I am currently unemployed.

… for relative health, even with a chronic illness.

As C.S. Lewis writes, saying our prayers is like studying grammar.  It may seem pointless in the present, but over time we grow in our relationship with the One to whom we pray such that we can more fully experience abundant life – the joy, the peace, the love – we can only receive from God.

(image above “Julian Fałat – Praying Old Man” from Kayla Shifrin in Painting and Drawing)

7 thoughts on “Pitiful, Persistent Prayers

  1. Often, my prayer life parallels my scripture reading. I don’t mean, “the more I read the more I pray.” But rather, these two necessities carry the same ritualistic pressure (and possibly guilt) that I earned from trying to impress church members for most my life.

    As I’ve gotten older and have began to take my faith into my own hands, my scripture reading has “busted out of its shell” so to speak. Prayer is another animal I haven’t even begun to tame. Lately, I’ve been thinking about what it means to truly pray. Thanks for writing this piece. Great post as usual!

    • Thank you, Kevin, for your thoughtful response.

      I can resonate with what you say about your prayer life paralleling your Scripture reading. It may sound simplistic, but I still think there is a lot of truth in the saying, “When I pray, I talk to God. When I read Scripture, God talks to me.” To have a monologue either way shortchanges the relationship.

  2. I guess we all get to the place where we view our prayers in that light. I don’t believe it’s at all a bad thing to review our conversation with God, or even to ask that He reveal how to improve that dialogue. I also believe it’s essential to remember how fervent our God is about having that very conversation with us. With that knowledge firm in hand, we may approach the throne of grace with gratitude and reverence.

  3. I’m nodding my head here – to the post and to what the other commenters have said. I understand about pitiful prayers for sure 😦

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