It’s summer time, and that means that I have a bit more time to read than I do in the peak of the liturgical/choral season. A friend recently recommended to me that I read A Praying Life: Connecting with God in a Distracting World, and so I have taken the task on of trying to work through the book. It would stand to reason, then, that I would get blown away by quotes from the book almost immediately. Paul Miller writes this in the opening chapter of the book:
“One of the subtlest hindrances to prayer is probably the most pervasive. In the broader culture and in our churches, we prize intellect, competency, and wealth. Because we can do life without God, praying seems nice but unnecessary. Money can do what prayer does, and it is quicker and less time-consuming. Our trust in ourselves and in our talents makes us structurally independent of God. As a result, exhortations to pray don’t stick. (A Praying Life, pp. 16)
There it is in a nutshell. You and I are structurally built in such a way that because of the fall, we think we can pretty much carry on a normal, happy, healthy life without so much as a second thought given to prayer.
But why do we need prayer, anyway? Isn’t prayer just a means of “getting to know God better?” Shouldn’t we pray so that we can grow in our faith? All of these things are true, and all of these things are good. But why did Jesus pray?
Jesus didn’t pray because he somehow needed more information from God. Jesus prayed because he was demonstrating what “normal” is. Did you catch that? Normal. Not information download. Not duty. Nope. Jesus demonstrated to us that the first and foremost source of Joy in our lives comes from a perpetual communion with and communication between the Father and his children.
So perhaps, God is teaching us… teaching me… that prayer isn’t what we do to look piaus and Christian. Perhaps it is the undoing of my misguided complacency in my over-inflated competency. What about you?