“If we are honest, prayer feels like a challenge. We have made prayer a chore as opposed to a gracious gift.”
Authors of Beloved Dust, Jamin Goggin and Kyle Strobel address the struggle believers can experience in achieving a healthy prayer life. Prayer can be seen as work, worse yet, as a burden or obligation. Lying beneath this perception is, they diagnose, a wrong view of prayer. For some it becomes “a place of self-talk, self-fixing, self condemnation and self obsession”. For others it is a place of presumption, where God is treated as a life resource rather than Sovereign Creator.
In answering the question ‘what is prayer?’, they point to Jesus:
What we see in Jesus is one who prayed in truth. Jesus prayed from his identity as beloved dust. This is prayer. Not a duty. Not a ritual. Not another “to do”. Rather, it is a place of abiding. Prayer is being with God who is always with you. This call to be with God can be a big step; the false postures we have spent years perfecting will not simply be undone by awareness and willpower. These false postures are habits of the heart connected to deep beliefs about God and ourselves that can only be transformed by the work of the Holy Spirit. Our false postures in prayer can only find transformation in prayer itself.
If we give ourselves to the Holy Spirit’s work of purging false postures and beliefs, we should take a cue from Jesus. He showed us what it looks like to pray in reality, in the truth of our identity. He pointed us to a resource to put off these false postures in prayer. We have his sheet music. There are 150 prayers in the book of Psalms. We can pray them with Jesus. They can help to locate us within God’s redemptive work within…As we enter in to the ancient prayers of the people of Israel, God will begin to open up vistas into the truth of out identity relationship to him. As we pray the words of Psalms, we will hear the voice of God singing the truth of who we are in light of who he is…
We must not forget that the prayers of the Psalms are God’s Word. They are ‘right speech’…
Like a child, as we pray the Psalms, we are learning to talk. We are learning to speak to God. We are learning to relate to him. We are learning that he is God and we are not. We are learning that we desperately need his forgiveness. We are learning that by his abounding love and grace our Father call us his beloved.