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I think that I will spend my whole life trying to learn how to pray.  Maybe that’s the way it works with prayer, because it’s hard to imagine getting to the point where one says, “Yeah, I’ve got that prayer thing down.  Couldn’t get any closer to God than I am now.”  A book that discusses the spiritual implications of the Myers Briggs Personally Assessment says that my type will always be disappointed with my spiritual development.  Hooray.  Just what I needed to hear.

So, as usual, I’m reading a book about prayer (as well as listening to Foster’s classic in my car).  (Oh, I am praying, too.)  The Praying Life, by Paul Miler is a good one.  Listen to this:

What do I lose when I have a praying life?  Control.  Independence.  What do I gain?  Friendship with God.  A quiet heart.  The living work of God in the hearts of those I love.  The ability to roll back the tide of evil.  Essentially, I lose my kingdom and get his.  I move from being an independent player to a dependent lover.  I move from being an orphan  to a child of God.  p. 125-6

Not bad, huh?

That control thing.  That’s hard to figure out.  In one sense, prayer gives us more control, not of God, of course, but of ourselves and even of some of our circumstances.  I’ve never been able to control my kids with prayer, and I’ve tried, but I don’t like thinking about what they’ve missed or the challenges they have faced because I didn’t’ pray.

But, God’s kingdom . . . . that has a nice sound to it.  Imagining God’s kingdom motivates my prayer.  Imagining God’s gracious control, leadership and blessing – making things right, brings prayer to most every detail of life.  Hmmm . . maybe that’s why Jesus started there in teaching about prayer, “Your kingdom come.”

Lord, may we seek to live more dependently on you.  May we become more suspicious of our efforts to control.  Yet, may we become more responsible to change this world through prayer.


  1. Mark, I always remember you saying that there was no class or course in PRAYER when you went to divinity school.

    Not that long ago someone told me they found out they were trying to control others through prayer. Fascinating right? They would try to Pray for what They thought should happen. Whow. Something for me to think about. I remember that as I pray for others. Praying for God's will in their life, or wisdom, or love, or truth to shine… or for some Joy, I don't see this as controlling. But when I get into the how's of it all, I start to pray in a controlling way. Gotta leave room for God's authority on the matter. I am still learning. Progress Not Perfection.