Why Pray?

“Why should I spend an hour in prayer when I do nothing during that time but think about people I am angry with, people who are angry with me, books I should read, and books I should write, and thousands of other silly things that happen to grab my mind for a moment?

The answer is: because God is greater than my mind and my heart and what is really happening in the house of prayer is not measurable in terms of human success and failure.

What I must do first of all is to be faithful. If I believe that the first commandment is to love God with my whole heart, mind, and soul, then I should at least be able to spend one hour a day with nobody else but God. The question as to whether it is helpful, useful, practical, or fruitful is completely irrelevant, since the only reason to love is love itself. Everything else is secondary.

The remarkable thing, however, is that sitting in the presence of God for one hour each morning—day after day, week after week, month after month—in total confusion and with myriad distractions radically changes my life. God, who loves me so much that he sent his only son not to condemn me but to save me, does not leave me waiting in the dark too long. I might think that each hour is useless, but after thirty or sixty or ninety such useless hours, I gradually realize that I was not as alone as I thought; a very small, gentle voice has been speaking to me far beyond my noisy place.

So, be confident and trust in the Lord” (Henri Nouwen).

Prayer is not a last resort (or it shouldn’t be), but the first place I go in times of trouble. It should be the first place I go in times of plenty, in want, in anxiety, in peace. Prayer should become as natural to me as breathing.

Thankfully, God’s not waiting on me to become an expert in prayer before He hears me. He’s not waiting until I become proficient at it before I can come boldly before the throne of grace. Even when all I’ve got are sighs and groans and nothing else, He still hears the unspoken words and unexpressed longings.

I don’t have to be any good at praying. I just need to pray. Or better yet, I get to pray.

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