Prayer Stroke

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Carrie Gaul offers helpful reminders about prayer from Scripture.

I’ll never forget that long night in the ICU. Grandma’s face was etched with frustration and confusion. Her speech was garbled, and her arms flailed again and again, reaching desperately for something that seemed just beyond her grasp. These memories came rushing back recently as I read these words from Paul Miller’s book A Praying Life:

“Our natural desire to pray comes from Creation. We are made in the image of God. Our inability to pray comes from the fall. Evil has marred the image. We want to talk to God but can’t. The friction of our desire to pray, combined with our badly damaged prayer antennae, leads to constant frustration. It’s as if we’ve had a stroke.” 

I understand! I’ve walked with the Lord for over thirty-five years, but there are still seasons when my prayers resemble the garbled yet desperately sincere words of a stroke victim struggling to communicate how she feels and what she needs. Times when my attempts to connect with the Lord seem like a desperate flailing for something just beyond my reach.  

That’s why I’ve been so encouraged by the practical insights in A Praying Life. The author acknowledges the huge disconnect between what we know about our ability to run into the Throne Room of Heaven freely, and our all too frequent struggle to stay in His presence for even a few minutes before our mind wanders, unsure of what else to say. The resulting guilt, shame, and condemnation slowly erodes even our desire to come to Him.  

Have you been there? I sure have! That’s why these reminders of Jesus’ criteria for coming have been so good for my soul:

Come weary and heavy-laden (Matt. 11:28).   

Did you catch that? Jesus invites us to come when we’re overwhelmed with life. Come with our wandering mind. Come messy. Are you having trouble concentrating today? Are the problems you’re facing like claws in your brain? Do you have so many problems you don’t even know where to start? That’s exactly how Jesus wants you to come! Then,  

Come as little children (Matt. 18:3). 

Come without pretense.

“Don’t try to get the prayer right; just tell God where you are and what’s on your mind. That’s what little children do. They come as they are, runny noses and all.” –Paul Miller

Have you come today to your Abba Father today? Has your helplessness and neediness driven you into His presence? Or are you cowering in shame because prayer seems so hard? 

Think for a moment on this truth: 

“Prayer mirrors the gospel. We look at the inadequacy of our praying and give up, thinking something is wrong with us. God looks at the adequacy of his Son and delights in our sloppy, meandering prayers.” –Paul Miller

Won’t you join me as we run eagerly and expectantly—messy and needy—into the arms of our Abba Father today?  

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