“A Praying Teacher” – Part 1
I should pray more often, but I just forget to.
I’m too busy to pray; I’m a busy person.
I’ve tried praying before, but what does it do? I don’t see the point.
If you’re thinking any of this, I’m with you. In the busyness and chaos of modern America, prayer seems just as forgettable or pointless as we feel it is.
But yet we’re empty inside. We feel like there’s more to our lives, and more to our faith. Isn’t there a deeper relationship waiting for me out there?
There is. But it’s not what you think it is.
But first, we need to examine our hearts and understand why we feel this way.
Do We Really Need Prayer?
“Prayer is simply not important to many Christians because Jesus is already an add-on,” writes Paul Miller. It’s easy to treat Jesus like a fashion statement. We wear him when we want to impress the right people, and we change as soon as we can.
We also fail to pray because we don’t believe we need to. Many of us are very safe, after all. With a locked door, concealed weapon, alarm system, and active police force, why do I need God’s protection? I don’t need God’s provision when there’s Walmart, and I certainly don’t need God’s presence when there’s facebook.
“If you are not praying, then you are quietly confident that time, money, and talent are all you need in life.” Here, Paul Miller pries open our hearts and finds a whole stockpile of idols there – wealth, real estate, children, spouses, approval – and little room, or need, for Jesus.
No wonder we don’t pray.
But this alone doesn’t block us from prayer, because times do come when we need God’s protection, provision, and presence. When things go wrong, our hearts suddenly lose it and reach out to God.
And He answers the way He wants. In a world where we almost always get what we want (or a half-decent substitute), we are like children hearing the word “No”. We kick, scream, and tantrum. Except that adult tantrums involve alcohol, sex, and credit cards.
The reality is that every Christian lives in some amount of fear of prayer. We’re honestly afraid of it, scared to actually ask for what we want because we bear mortal scars from past disappointments.
But do you know who is never scared to ask for something?
A child. Your child, perhaps. Or a student you may have in mind. Children will blurt out what they want without any care for etiquette or who’s actually listening. They state their demands and then we, the adults, relate to them, regardless of whether or not they get what they want.
Can you see where this is going?
The Apostle Paul wrote this to the Colossians: “Therefore, as you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in him.” If you have received Jesus, how did you do it? Did you walk to the front of the church with medals dangling around your neck? Did everyone applaud because you had just slain the dragon?
Or were you humbled, weeping in gratitude because grace had found you? Did you feel saved, or like a savior?
“We received Jesus because we were weak, and that’s how we follow him,” Paul Miller writes. So if we receive Jesus as a weakling and a failure, we are supposed to continue in that? Are you kidding?
Get In Touch With Your Inner Child
When I was in 4th grade I wrote my first book. It was called “The Crime” and featured four kids who were crime-fighters. At 60-pages long (double-spaced AND in cursive!) it was the longest piece of writing I had done yet. I shared it with my teacher, hoping it would soon be published at the local bookstore.
I still have that original, pencil-written copy, and I’ve re-read it many times. And while I’m proud of my roots, I’ll be honest: it sucks.
Even the proudest work of our hands, at least when performed with our own righteousness, is pure kindergarten crap compared to the holiness of God. We keep thinking that being a Christian means we need to be God. But we’re not, and instead of giving glory to the true God, we do what a child does. We tantrum.
Praying Like a Child
Here’s the bottom line: It’s okay to ask.
In fact, it’s what your Father wants. And if you think He wants perfect poetry like the King James Bible, think again.
“We look at the inadequacy of our praying and give up, thinking something is wrong with us,” Miller writes. “God looks at the adequacy of his Son and delights in our sloppy, meandering prayers.”
Here’s something that my good, Christian upbringing didn’t teach me: Your prayers can suck. They can be like my 4th-grade story – immature, naive, and foolish.
Because you’re God’s kid.
You can ask because you’re His.
But what about when God says “No?”
Good question. Here’s another: How often do you say “No” to your children or students for their own good?
Prayer isn’t about results. Prayer is about relationship. Talking to your Father is about bringing Him on the journey with you. It’s about giving him dominion and authority to unleash His love, mercy, and power in your life.
Miller says this about praying for his family: “I began to speak less to the kids and more to God. It was actually quite relaxing.”
Does your throat ever dry up from talking and ordering and teaching? Does your body ever wear out from running and cleaning and doing?
Invite God in. Talk to Daddy.
Father, come with me to the gym. Let’s make this about health, not image.
Father, come with us to dinner. Reveal our sinful hearts so we can love each other better.
Father, come to class with me. Show me how to teach, and remind me that I’m a bigger sinner than my students.
That’s why we should pray.
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