Monday, February 20, 2012

Prayer Print

 God made us all so intricately and specifically different.  Our uniqueness is revealed in many ways from the physical to the nonphysical.  Our fingerprints have long been a way to identify ourselves from others.  I find it an amazing "quirk" that God decided to make us this way!  What a wonderful reminder to us as we lift our hands to our Maker, that each of those prints on our fingers were made uniquely to us, for Him.
 My husband and I often reflect on the very specific way we communicate with each other.  In a broad sense, we speak "Manese" or "Womanese," but even more specifically, we speak in our own dialects of "Pat-ese" and "Melissa-ese."  There are some broad communication suggestions that we use, but in the real world of our days, we have to take the time to refine the way we speak to each other.

Why with all the individuality and uniqueness of each one of us do we feel compelled to use formulas to pray?  Does God create us with such complexity and detail to only hear us if we include all the aspects of a respective acronym?  I don't believe so.

From the very beginning, Adam had normal conversations with God, as normal as could be expected anyway!  After the fall, this openness had certainly changed.  To try to sum it up, the Old Testament from Moses on, shows the unattainable perfection God required in order to approach him, however, it is also shown that His mercy and grace covered those who tried but ultimately failed.  Finally Jesus opens this line of communication so we can confidently approach the Throne of Grace with everything we are.

Jesus's ministry was so broad that I won't begin to dissect it completely, but one thing I want to point out is that He was very clear that the method was much less important, if important at all, in comparison to the heart.  He talked about the Pharisee and the Tax Collector in Luke 18:10-14.  The Pharisee talks about all he does, but the tax collector simply begs God for mercy.  Jesus is clear about who is justified.

Those who are fans of formula like to point out the prayer Jesus gives when the disciples ask Him how to pray.  Without any kind of degree in theology, I'd like to offer my simple view of what Jesus was doing here.  One point could be stated that disciples of teachers often had specific, special prayers that their Rabbi would compose just for them.  This is why Jesus's disciples compare themselves to John the Baptist's disciples (Luke 11).  Jesus also knew the limits of our humanity, and how we often need guidelines to help us get started.

If you know me at all, you know that I thrive most in an environment of rules; of boxes to check.  In one way, I really love the idea of having specific prayer points to include.  It helps me to focus on the fact that I am speaking to the Lord of the Universe, not my pocket genie.  I do notice, however, that whenever I try to implement a formula to my prayers, it becomes fabricated and forced.  In time, the guideline becomes restrictive and all I really want to do is quit.  This is just me.  It may not be this way for others.

Just like our fingerprints and specific ways we communicate with each other, I believe we have the freedom to communicate just as individually with Jesus.  We have guidelines if we find ourselves without a way to start, but I believe God wants us to go beyond the formula, beyond the acronym.  He wants our hearts, sputtering and disjointed as they are.  He wants our moments where we have no idea what to say, but just bow to him in tears; He wants our moments where we beg and plead for the help we know only He can give.  He wants those moments where we all we can do is reach out and say a few words; He wants those moments where we sing our praises to Him.  He wants it all, every scripted and unscripted moment of our lives.

So if you feel unable, or just unsure of how to talk to God, just open your hands to Him.  Lift the cries of your heart, as unique as your fingerprints, up to Jesus.


  1. Great great post! Good insights and reminders for us when we bow our head or life our hands in prayer.

  2. Great thoughts! Especially like the idea of the Lord's prayer not necessarily being the "template" (if I got that right. That has always bugged me. Thanks for taking the time to post this.