By Amanda Berger
Matthew 6:5-14 (The Message)
“Here’s what I want you to do: Find a quiet, secluded place so you won’t be tempted to role-play before God. Just be there as simply and honestly as you can manage. The focus will shift from you to God, and you will begin to sense his grace. “The world is full of so-called prayer warriors who are prayer-ignorant. They’re full of formulas and programs and advice, peddling techniques for getting what you want from God. Don’t fall for that nonsense. This is your Father you are dealing with, and he knows better than you what you need. With a God like this loving you, you can pray very simply. Like this:
Our Father in heaven,
Reveal who you are.
Set the world right;
Do what’s best—as above, so below.
Keep us alive with three square meals.
Keep us forgiven with you and forgiving others.
Keep us safe from ourselves and the Devil.
You’re in charge!
You can do anything you want!
You’re ablaze in beauty!
Yes. Yes. Yes.
“In prayer there is a connection between what God does and what you do.
I’ll never forget when I learned that prayer wasn’t just about what I was bringing to God. I was in my early 20’s, but somehow, even in the midst of a Lutheran-saturated childhood of regular church attendance, I had never been told (or maybe just never heard) that prayer is also about quieting down my own body, voice and mind to listen. It is about listening, perhaps even more, than it is about my requests, my praises, my needs.
After what felt like years of unanswered prayers and lots of confusion, I remember when my prayers moved from “God, should I choose this or that” to a prayer of “God, help me to hear what you would have me do…” It was a movement from offering God my pre-determined acceptable responses to truly being open to where God was leading and directing me.
Truly listening for God in the midst of my life, as a regular prayer practice, changed everything. There isn’t really one way to pray–or a test to make sure you are doing it right. Heartfelt prayer is as varied as the lives of all those who pray. But I do know, that for me, getting still and tuning my heart to hear God helps reveal the sacred.
How would you describe your prayer life? What would prayers of listening look like for you?
All-hearing God, we send our prayers your way, whether with words, or thoughts, or even sighs for those things which we don’t even know we need. You are always ready to listen and to ease our burdens. Let us mimic your receptiveness, opening ears and hearts to Your holy prompting. Let us listen. Let us hear. Amen.