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Ditching the Formula

Jeremiah 33:3 Call to me and I will answer you, and will tell you great and hidden things that you have not known. (NRSV)

Might I ask you today; how do you pray? What’s your approach? What images, ideas, does this thing of praying conjure up in your mind. People – Christians – talk a lot about praying but not a whole lot about how we pray.

The word “prayer”, for some, conjures up images of ritual or formula. You know … you have to be in a certain place, dressed a certain way, praying the right words in the right way. And if you get it right then God won’t punish you, and you may even get whatever it is that you’re asking for.

That’s certainly what I was taught when I was growing up. But eventually I came to the point of thinking, “If that’s what prayer is, who needs it?” So I went for a good twenty years without praying at all. That’s a long time in the wilderness, I have to tell you.

Then in my late thirties, at a time when all my hopes and dreams lay shattered on the ground, I started praying again out of sheer desperation:

Not with formulae – just pouring out my heart to God – and to my absolute surprise, God started answering me. But it wasn’t what I’d expected. I was hoping that He’d wave a magic wand and solve all my problems. But He had something quite different in mind.

Jeremiah 33:3 Call to me and I will answer you, and will tell you great and hidden things that you have not known. (NRSV)I did call out to God. He did answer me … but the answers were the wisdom and the encouragement that I needed to get through those tough times, not a magic wand to make them all go away in the twinkling of an eye.

Prayer. It’s not a formula. Get real. Call out to God and He will answer you.

That’s His Word. Fresh … for you … today.

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