I’ve written before about how baffling prayer is to me.
And how I stink at making it “work“.
Still, I love to talk to God, but I can zig zag like a pinball.
I can be Aggressive – confidently naming “promises”, boldly reminding God of what He has said in His word, in case He might forget or choose to see things differently than I do.
or Passive – open-handed,waiting on God with a pious (or resigned, martyrly?) “Thy will be done…like whatEVER Lord…”
or Rote and empty like when I rattle off the Lord’s Prayer at warp speed while thinking about what I need to get at the grocery store on the way home from church.
The other day I listened to our friend, Gary Haugen give an incredible talk on prayer. His definition has been rolling around in my brain ever since. He said prayer is:
“Talking to God about what we’re doing together.”
This intrigues me. I can’t stop thinking about it.
Conversation with the Lord and Creator of the universe while we’re doing… While we’re watching a sunset, or riding a bike, or parenting a child, or working to stop sex trafficking, or even while the “doing” is listening for His voice.
Prayer doesn’t take the place of action, but works in concert with God.
And as Gary points out, this God we’re talking to and doing with is powerful. Very powerful.
Here’s something He made on a fun day.
Thinking about this and trying to apply it has brought to mind one of my favorite biblical characters, Nehemiah who rebuilt the walls of Jerusalem, praying and doing as seamlessly as Gene Kelly singing and dancing through Singin’ in the Rain.
Throughout the book of Nehemiah you see this remarkable integrated rhythm of prayer and action.
Over an over we see phrases like:
“I prayed before the God of heaven and then I said…”
“I prayed to the God of heaven and I answered the king…”
In everything he honors God in the doing:
“…what God had put on my heart to do for Jerusalem…”
“I also told them about the gracious hand of my God on me…”
“Do not be afraid…Remember the Lord, who is great and awesome… Our God will fight for us…”
How often do we segregate our prayer life from our “real” life of doing, like separating the baked beans and the potato salad on our compartmentalized picnic plate? How I long, instead, for this integrated rhythm of uninterrupted conversation with the Lord of the universe while actively partnering with Him in His work in the world.
What if people one day wrote of us:
“She prayed and fought injustice”
“They talked to God and served with their kids .”
“She asked questions and listened for God’s prompting.”
“He prayed and spoke to his boss about a practice that concerned him.”
“With an ear to heaven, an eye on eternity, they were all about doing kingdom work.”
What do you think of Gary’s definition of prayer?
If you want to listen to Gary’s part of this message it’s the second week of this series.