Prayer or a wish list?

| February 26, 2012 | 0 Comments


I try not to “say prayers” anymore. In fact, I’m even having trouble with the concept of a “prayer list.” Too many times it morphs in a wish list. God is not a genie in a lamp, or a super-hero marketing a secret code. He doesn’t answer to us, nor does He have to explain His actions or timing. He does what He does and by faith we sense His presence in all of it.

Prayer uses words to invade His presence. It’s conversation that transports us to holy ground. I can’t explain it, but I am learning to accept it.

I never know when God will respond the way I expect, but I do know He is always present.

Regardless of what you heard in Sunday school, prayer cannot be explained like geometry, or diagrammed like a complex drug compound. There is no formula, no template for how to pray, or how to end the prayer. You don’t have to close your eyes, and you don’t have to always end the prayer with “in Jesus name, amen.”

Real prayer is an experience like love and friendship. You have to be there. You might say, “It’s out-of-this-world.”


Stuart has learned not to “say prayers” any more, too. A short time back, he was a U.S. Marine (1st Force Recon), camped somewhere near the Syrian boarder of Iraq. Back then, when his team was called to action, it was their job to take care of business and then disappear into the shadows. Because of the nature of the work, communication with family was rare.

Stuart’s parents are no strangers to the fears of not knowing. “It was a new world for us,” Stuart’s father explained. “Every communication was a treasure. It was tough not knowing.”

“But,” he quickly added, “we felt the powerful hands of God surrounding Stuart and his team. I can’t explain, or begin to describe, the peace we felt. All I know is that God was constantly there.”

Stuart found God’s peace to be a permanent companion. Each night when he and his team prepared for another mission outside the wire, he would read a copy of Psalm 91, fold it, and puts it in his breast pocket. For Stuart each reading was a peek into the Presence.

Clyde, Stuart’s dad, recalls, “I tried to tell him of our holy ground conversations with God, our sense of His Presence, but I wasn’t sure he understood.”

Then, at the close of one short call, Stuart said, “Dad. I can feel God’s Presence over here, too. Today a live RPG bounced off the HumVee. That’s not supposed to happen.”

Stuart’s deployment worked a wonder in the whole family. “For the first time in our lives,” Clyde admitted, “we sensed the face of God. Now, I find myself looking for him everywhere and finding him where ever I look.”

Experience makes the difference. For Stuart, no matter what happen there was peace in the awareness that God was always present. His protection was a by-product, not the request. Peace and awareness and presence are the requests. “God, show me more!”

Stuart is back in the states now. But, their prayer experience has changed everyone.

While prayer lists tend to feel more like wish lists filled with stuff we want, Clyde and his family venture in the Presence of God, sharing what He wants, and giving them a sneak-peek at the next chapter.


Ask your friends what they pray about. Ask them if they have experienced God’s peace and Presence in their prayer life. Get them to tell you about it.

Question to start the action: “If you were having dinner with Jesus, would you talk about yourself all the time?”

Remember when the disciples were in the boat and the storm came? The men were afraid and they cried out to Jesus to save them and wondered aloud if he cared for their safety. Jesus responded by questioning their faith. Too often we pray for rescue and intervention and miss the peace of praying for wisdom and trust.

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Category: Faith Notes

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