Monday, February 27, 2012

what I'm reading: how prayer grows as we grow from The Praying Life

The older I get, the more prayer becomes part of who I am. That's why I love what Paul Miller says about how prayer grows as we grow:

Because prayer is all about relationship, we can’t work on prayer as an isolated part of life. That would be like going to the gym and working out just your left arm. You’d get a strong left arm, but it would look odd. Many people’s frustrations with prayer come from working on prayer as a discipline in the abstract.

We don’t learn to pray in isolation from the rest of our lives...For example,...if I suffer, I learn how to pray. As I learn how to pray, I learn how to endure suffering. This intertwining applies to every aspect of the Christian life.

Since a praying life is interconnected with every part of our lives, learning to pray is almost identical to maturing over a lifetime. What does it feel like to grow up? It is a thousand feelings on a thousand different days. That is what learning to pray feels like.

So don’t hunt for a feeling in prayer. Deep in our psyches we want an experience with God or an experience in prayer. Once we make that our quest, we lose God. You don’t experience God; you get to know him. You submit to him. You enjoy him. He is, after all, a person.

Consequently, a praying life isn’t something you accomplish in a year. It is a journey of a lifetime.

Paul Miller A praying life page 2.

image is from Emily Elisabeth on flickr


Wendy said...

Thanks for drawing my attention to this book and the linked review Jean - looks like another good one to add to the list!

It's very helpful to think of prayer as a journey, it's something I've definitely found to be true - even though sometimes you are tempted to feel you do want to 'sort it out better' sooner!

Jean said...

Yes, it's a really helpful book on the experience of prayer. I don't agree with everything in it, particularly the chapter on "listening to God" (see the comments here and here). But that said, it's a helpful guide to prayer. Challies reviews it here - like many GC folk, he doesn't seem to have the same issues I have with the "listening to God" stuff, or doesn't mention them at least.

Meredith said...

This ties in a bit with what we have been saying elsewhere about growing old. So much just seems a matter of maturing. It is a good thing God gives us a whole lifetime...because we sure need it. But it is an adventure getting there, isn't it.