Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and He shall lift you up. ~ James 4:10 KJV
by Linda Veath
I love it when God turns what appears to be a coincidence into a God-incidence. Usually. But then there’s this one . . . .
It started with a book that cried “read me, read me.” So I began reading The Lost Art of Praying Together by James Banks. Since I’m not comfortable praying in front of others, I thought it might help me get over that hurdle.
I felt God working on me from the beginning of the book. And then . . . the leader of a Bible study I attend decided that we should close our studies with everyone saying a short prayer. Really?
“Lord, just because I’m reading a book about praying together doesn’t mean I want to practice it.” But, in all honesty, I felt God was using this to restore my prayer life, which wasn’t in the best shape.
As I read the book, I realized that praying together out loud is a privilege and an opportunity. A privilege because we enter God’s presence together seeking what He is teaching us through our prayers. An opportunity because listening to others’ voices, their words, and the cries of their hearts help us mature in our own praying.
Praying with others also takes humility. While all prayer takes humility in learning to depend on God, praying out loud has its own kind. Think for a minute about the excuses we use when asked to pray out loud. What will people think of my prayer? Will they laugh if it’s not said correctly? Will I say the right thing? Will I pray “doctrinally correct?” What if I stumble and say “uh uh uh”? What if I get lost in my train of thought?
Do you see it? Most of our excuses center around ME ME ME! It’s all about OUR performance. It’s PRIDE. Not wanting to “sound bad” to others. Praying is not about putting together the words in a right way. Or getting compliments from others on how good we pray. God is not going to grade us on our prayers. He’s not going to answer us according to how eloquently we pray. He just wants to hear us lift our hearts to Him.
And if it’s a little muddled, the Holy Spirit will straighten it out.
I confess that I have a long way to go before I feel comfortable praying out loud in a group. I’m not done with the book yet. And God is not done working on me. His God-incidence is not over yet. But I know God smiles when He hears our voices joined in prayer. So I will pray. Will you join me?