Prayers for the Journey: “Teach Me to Beg”

imagesHaving lived and walked amongst evangelicals for the better part of 20 years now and having identified myself as one of their number, I have come to this disturbing conclusion: as a people, we do not know how to pray.  Moreover, if I am being completely transparent, then I should clearly state that I also am an abject failure when it comes to knowing how to pray.  Now there is a great deal more that could be said on this subject, but rather than addressing it as an academic matter, I have simply decided to share some written prayers from two new books that I am using in my own prayer life.

“If any one thing characterizes these prayers, I hope … it is a confidence that God wants our prayers and the prayers God wants are our prayers.  We do not need to hide anything from God, which is a good thing given the fact that any attempt to hide from God will not work.  God wants us to cry, to shout, to say what we think we understand and what we do not.” [1]

As for the two books I am using, I gladly share them below on the condition that you would consider adding your own resources to my list.  For you see, when I went looking for books on prayer, I quickly discovered that there is a wealth of evangelical material that talks about praying, but very little material that actually shares prayers that have been prayed either in solitude or as a body.  So if you have any suggestions that you could add to the admittedly meager library I am utilizing, I would be ever so grateful for your willingness to share them in the comment section below.

Prayers for a Privileged People by Walter Bruggemann

Prayers Plainly Spoken by Stanley Hauerwas

Now, may the words of these penitent faithful bless you as they have blessed me, opening up new ways of talking to the One Who Washed Our Feet.

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“Teach Me to Beg”

Dear Jesus, send your Spirit on us so that we will be taught to pray.  Prayer is hard, requiring great effort, but when done, effortless.  I confess I have never liked to pray.  Prayer is too much like begging.  So I have to pray that your generous Spirit will teach me to beg.  I beg you to help all of us discover that our lives are constituted by prayer, so that we may be in your world one mighty, joyous prayer.  Make us so rested by such prayer, so content to be your people, that we kill no more. [2]

[1] Stanley Hauerwas, Prayers Plainly Spoken (Eugene, Oregon: Wipf and Stock Publishers, 1999), 17.

[2] Ibid., 24.

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6 Responses to Prayers for the Journey: “Teach Me to Beg”

  1. Josh The Younger says:

    I think praying is something every Christians struggles with to some extent. Just the concept of coming before God and actually having His ear at a moment’s notice is something that’s very difficult to grasp. Knowing my own weakness, I take a lot of comfort in Romans 8:26 – “Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words.” I don’t have any books for you, but hopefully I can lend some encouragement as we all struggle through the process of sanctification.

    • Josh … As someone who is moving towards the liturgy, you are clearly someone who is moving towards corporate prayer. Furthermore, as someone who is a gifted writer, I wonder if you might consider using your gifts and submit something you have written. Thoughts?

  2. Patricia Therasse says:

    After reading your article on prayer I felt compelled to write about a book I recently purchased. Prayers That Avail Much, Gold Letter Edition by Germaine Copeland contains three of her volumes of scriptural prayer for all kinds of specific life situations. Praying Scripture back to God is both powerful and effective. God’s Word is His will and by praying what He says in His Word shows that you are submitting your will to God. When you are praying God’s will rather than yours, you are obeying the prayer which Jesus taught “…thy will be done.” Praying and meditating on the Scriptures opens the door to the Holy Spirit to make the Word a reality in your heart and you will come to know that God will do that which He promises. The more you pray these prayers, the more you will see your situation from God’s perspective. The study of the scriptures transforms your mind as you learn how to respond to life’s problems from a biblical perspective. You will experience a more intimate relationship with your Heavenly Father and will increasingly desire to please Him and seek His presence. You will receive answers to your prayers as you confidently and boldly enter into the Throne of Grace.

    In Christ, Patricia Therasse

  3. Thanks for the recommendation. I just linked it to so others can find it more easily. Blessings.

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