As Christians, we lead a life of prayer, and we know in our hearts that God hears us. But somehow in times of trouble or chaos, I find myself always coming back to the same question: “Are you listening to me?” Many Psalms are filled with those same cries.
I confess I love the Psalms. I find the elaborate images to be soothing. They center me in my faith. I know they are not the top of the list for all, but they are for me. But the downside to this is that somehow when I pray, I have this deep feeling that it is not good enough unless it sounds like a Psalm. For me, one of the toughest realities I have encountered in coming to the Presbyterian faith, is being asked to lead a prayer. I am perfectly fine when I close the door and pray. It is never a problem when I have time to think about the message I want to convey, or the words I want use, or better yet, have the time to write it out. However, to suddenly have to pray out loud…in front of a group.
Somehow, I do not believe I am alone in this.
A common theme I find in the Psalms is the relationship of Lord or King to Slave or Servant. Before Jesus, this was the way we viewed our relationship with God as written in scripture. I find the Old Testament in general to be filled with this perspective. I believe my love of the Psalms engraved this in me, as it did for many in the times of the Old Testament. But, then came Christ. I believe part of the story of Jesus Christ is God trying to make us see that we have a much more intimate relationship with Him. It is no surprise to me that when the disciples asked Jesus to teach them how to pray, He begins with the words “Our Father…”
Changing my perspective about how God wants me to see Him allows me to be more open about my life of, or better said, life in prayer. If I have the time to write a prayer, it will no doubt still sound like a Psalm. But now I can be less hesitant when simply having a conversation in public with my Heavenly Father.
Earlier this year, I read a devotion that had 4 simple steps to remember when praying.
P = Praise
R = Repent
A = Ask
Y = Yield (allow your heart to yield in the first 3 steps)
So next time you are asked to lead a prayer, go ahead and try it. Remember that you are not a slave or servant, but a child. Then, I remember how many times in my childhood I asked myself if my parents would ever listen to me. I wonder how many times have my kids asked that about me?
So before asking “can you hear my prayer?” Ask yourself, did your parents always do what you asked when you were a child?