Thursday, June 10, 2010

Wandering Prayer

"Our obsessive drive to control our minds in the presence of God, that is, to pray about one thing or stick to one list, may be a form of hiding from God."
-- David Hansen, Long, Wandering Prayer

The great thing about our God is that he takes us as we are but does not leave us as he finds us. This means that a wandering mind (and even body) is okay in prayer. If you are engaged in the practice of intentional prayer in solitude and quiet, God who is outside of time is not offended if it takes you time to get everything expressed or you have to wander around your house or neighborhood or park to clear yourself of noise. There is nothing magical about staying in one place or staying on one track mentally. You may begin with many words and slowly run out, but if you are drawing close to God, stay there and think. Let your mind wander and then find its way back to prayer. There is no such thing as perfect prayer. Jesus is perfect and he bears the burden of perfection in prayer for you. Walk around. Sing. Read. Intersperse prayer with devotional reading or Bible study. Talk to yourself a bit. Work out the kinks. It’s okay. God can handle “messy.” The effort of wandering prayer is dirt enough for God to breathe life into.

"Come overwhelmed with life. Come with your wandering mind. Come messy.”
-- Paul Miller, A Praying Life

(This is a slightly edited excerpt from the session called "Intentional Prayer" in my book Abide: Practicing Kingdom Rhythms in a Consumer Culture)


Rob and Mary said...

Ah, Paul Miller, son of the founding pastor of my church.

We try to be formal with God, and we should just come as we are. He knows our prayers before we speak them. He knows our every fiber, so why should we come to Him in any way other than what we are.

philsmith said...

Good post.

I can read and study for hours, but it's a struggle for me to pray. For whatever reason, it's hard for me to have a good long chat with God.

I do like messy prayer though!

co_heir said...

Now you're making me want to buy another of your books. :)

kinleyw said...

I have often wondered how Adam talked with God in the cool of the day. I am sure there were times of silent wandering through the garden and wandering subjects.

Christ, the second Adam, has restored this relationship between us and God. I think God is taxed most when all we do is come to Him with our grocery list of needs and wants.

limpdance said...

Hey Jared,

I agree with this. But something keeps asking me how it fits in with the way Jesus taught us to pray.

Would love to hear your thoughts on this. Thanks.