• Rich Scheenstra

Why Pray?

Last Wednesday some of us gathered to discuss the first video of The Prayer Course. Pete Greig attempts to answer the question, “Why pray?” Most people pray at one time or another. Even atheists are known to pray when there are no other options. So in some sense, prayer is pretty natural for human beings. We simply do it. Abraham Heschel, the famous Jewish theologian, said, “Prayer is our humble answer to the inconceivable surprise of living.” At one level, prayer is pretty simple. It’s talking with God about the ordinary stuff of everyday life. And it’s not like we’re bothering him. It’s what he wants. I’m reminded of Jesus’ words, “Come to me all you who are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke on you and learn from me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” The yoke that connects us to Jesus can be many things, but I think one of the main things is prayer. It’s what can connect us to him all the time. Obviously prayer is a big part of our relationship with God. It’s also the key to effective ministry. Jesus said, “Whatever you ask in my name, I will do it.” There are three ways I tend to come at prayer. Sometimes I come to it out of desperation. And I think that’s okay. Like when Peter cried out "Lord, save me!" after he walked on water to get to Jesus, then took his eyes off of Jesus, and began to sink. On the eve of his death Jesus was desperate enough to ask his Father to come up with a Plan B. I also approach prayer as a discipline. I build it into my daily routine. There are several different kinds of prayers and ways of praying that are part of my morning quiet time with God. I pray one of the Psalms after lunch. Sometimes I need the discipline of prayer. And then there is prayer as desire. I want to pray. Or at least I want to want to pray. I suspect that if we really understood what prayer was and what it could do, we'd never want to stop. So I am praying that over the next several weeks my desire for prayer will grow. Pete Greig offers this concise bit of wisdom about praying: keep it simple, keep it real, keep it up. Prayer isn’t role-playing before God. It doesn’t have to “sound like” prayer. Simplicity and authenticity mark the prayers of God’s friends. And we keep at it because what could be more important, meaningful and fruitful than connecting with the Creator of the universe?

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