Called to Worship – Issue #6
by Phil Mershon
When you pray, how do you think about God and your relationship to Him? Do you see him as a distant ruler who only gets involved with the major issues of your life? Does he seem more like a watchmaker who started your life and is only needed when something is broken? (Thanks to my friend and professor, Larry Crabb, for some of these thoughts)
How about the way in which you approach God? Are you more like a spoiled brat or a penniless beggar? Do you demand he come through for you or do you expect him to pass you by—just like everyone else in your life?
The way we think about God in prayer affects the kinds of prayers we ask and the expectations we have of God’s involvement in our lives and in this world. Our thoughts on prayer even impact how often and how long we pray.
If God truly answers prayer wouldn’t we go to him all the time? If Jesus is constantly intercessing on our behalf, shouldn’t we cry out to him in our moments of distress and with our thanksgiving? If the Holy Spirit (a member of the perfect Triune community) lives in us, wouldn’t it make sense that we “pray without ceasing”(Eph. 6:18)? After all, God is a relational God who invites us into soul-slaking conversation.
What’s the reason for our lack of prayer?
The simple answer: Idolatry.
We are putting our trust in something or someone other than God. It might be belief in ourselves (self-idolatry) or trust in the economy (Mammon) or government. Some of us look to our spouse or family to deliver us. Others place their trust in a mentor or expert (counselor, pastor or leader). We worship our work, our hobbies or a cause. Sometimes we don’t pray because we’re just too busy. Why are we so busy? We may be afraid to slow down and hear God’s voice. What if He asked us to do something?
If you’re kept from prayer because you don’t know how to pray or what to say, I would encourage you to do what I do. Pray the scriptures. Start with the Psalms and Paul’s prayers in the epistles (Eph. 1:15-23, 3:14-21). It’s out of print, but my favorite book on learning to pray is Drawing Near by Kenneth Boa and Max Anders (used copies here). It’s 31 days of daily prayers based completely on scripture passages.
As you prepare to worship God this week, think through how you’re approaching God in prayer. It will reveal a lot about your practical theology.
As you ponder your prayer life, allow these songs to lead you: Mercy Me sings There’s a Stirring. I also love Nicole C. Mullen’s rendition of On My Knees. Finally, I love this prayer by Keith Getty and Stuart Townend, Speak, O Lord.
Share your comments
What keeps you from praying? I’d love to hear your stories of how God changed your view of prayer. Share it below.