Most of us believe the right things about prayer, but our score in doing it isn’t great. Unfortunately we can become so accustomed to it that we no longer mind the gap. The space between prayer beliefs and practice is unlikely to disappear completely, but learning prayer enjoyment will definitely shrink it.
Aiming to live what we believe is a big challenge, but to not aim at all leaves the gap in place. The gap becomes a monument to faith-in-crisis, and casts its shadow on the next generation.
Authentic living means allowing the truth we believe to shape the way we live. So, we believe:
- the Lord guarantees prayer joy, and that
- enjoyable prayer conversation is at the heart of relationship with him, and that
- prayer (even the battle-and-burden ones) enlarges our enjoyment of him.
But how do we move these good beliefs into prayer experience? As long as prayer is mainly duty, Christian custom or a panic response button, the gap size probably won’t get smaller. It’s when prayer becomes a favourite enjoyment that big change happens.
Prayer joy is more than euphoria. In fact, sometimes the happy feeling is absent. Joy can produce ‘happy’ (even ecstasy), but isn’t dependent on it. Phil 4:4-6 was written to people in struggle, suffering for Christ. It’s likely that some (perhaps many) were grieving a loss or facing painful costs for Christ’s sake. The apostle’s advice for dealing with life’s anxiety triggers wasn’t to ignore them and be merry, but to rejoice in the Lord. Yes, they should pray about their struggles and ask for the Lord’s help, but the leading edge in their praying should always be (he repeats it): join the Lord’s celebration of who he is. And keep agreeing with him about how good he is (with thanksgiving).
Recently, after teaching on ‘Enjoyable Prayer’, someone shared that they had grown up in a church culture where prayer was important, but enjoyment of it was irrelevant, even frowned on. The message seemed to be that prayer is too serious to be enjoyable. The truth is, prayer is too valuable to not be enjoyed. Enjoyable prayer is a journey of learning to enjoy the Lord, a prayer growth adventure that keeps moving us along the tracks of what we believe to be true.
Shaped for Prayer Enjoyment was written as a journey companion. I share the why and how-to of experiencing the enjoyable prayer life the Lord designed for us. The book will impact personal prayer life, but some are also finding it a useful group resource for growing in prayer together. Click on the link to see what readers are saying, and to find out where you can get your copy of the book.