Dear Peachtree Family,
Sometimes, I don’t know how to pray. Obviously, this does not mean I lack an understanding of prayer or have never been taught how to pray. But every once in a while, my ongoing conversation with God seems to falter. Maybe you are uncomfortable with your pastor admitting this, but to say anything otherwise would be dishonest and untrue.
Even the great spiritual giants of our tradition experienced wilderness moments in their life with God. If you doubt me, look back at your Bible for Moses, David, Elijah, and Paul with fresh eyes. No matter how far advanced they might seem, they all regressed to beginner status in prayer. Even our Lord Jesus experienced great anguish while praying in Gethsemane and in Luke 22:43, we are told He was strengthened by the visit of an angel.
When you experience wilderness moments in your prayer life, get back to the basics. Read a Psalm. Say the Lord’s Prayer out loud. Lean on the prayers of those who have gone before you. One of my favorite spiritual scaffolds is the Book of Common Prayer. Here is the collect for grace in the liturgy of morning prayer:
“O Lord, our heavenly Father, almighty and everlasting God, who has safely brought us to the beginning of this day: Defend us in the same with thy mighty power; and grant that this day we fall into no sin, neither run into any kind of danger; but that we, being ordered by thy governance, may do always what is righteous in thy sight …”
Or this prayer at the close of the day … “Lord Jesus, stay with us, for evening is at hand and the day is past; be our companion in the way, kindle our hearts, and awaken hope, that we may know thee as thou art revealed in Scripture and the breaking of bread. Grant this for the sake of thy love …”
Of course, one of the most important things to do when prayer feels foreign is to gather together with the faithful in worship. It is possible temporarily to ride the coattails of other people’s prayers. And if your prayers are in a season of soaring with sincerity and ease, it’s best not to keep those kind of prayers to yourself but to share them with others who might need the encouragement.
Either way, I’ll see you on Sunday.
With hope in Christ,