There are a host of books on prayer. I've even written one myself. But my friend Jay Hofler introduced me to Paul Miller's book a Praying Life that might be the most important book I've read on prayer. It is profound in its simplicity, and, more important to me personally, it unmasked an incipient cynicism growing in my heart. I pray a lot--about anything. I have no illusion that everything I ask of God, whether big or small, is small to Him. But I found myself praying more out of habit than belief that it made any difference. Miller unmasked this cynicism and reminded me that God cares about every small thing in my life. Here are a few of the lines that I highlighted and want to continue to ruminate on.
To be cynical is to be distant. While offering a false intimacy of being "in the know," cynicism actually destroys intimacy. It leads to a creeping bitterness that can deaden and even destroy the spirit.
Cynicism begins, oddly enough, with too much of the wrong kind of faith, with naive optimism or foolish confidence. At first glance, genuine faith and naive optimism appear identical since both foster confidence and hope.But the similarity is only surface deep.Genuine faith comes from knowing my heavenly Father loves, enjoys, and cares for me. Naive optimism is groundless. It is childlike trust without the loving Father.
Sometimes when we say "God is silent," what's really going on is that he hasn't told the story the way we wanted it told. He will be silent when we want him to fill in the blanks of the story we are creating. But with his own stories, the ones we live in, he is seldom silent.
Prayer is bringing your helplessness to Jesus
If we separate our mundane needs (doing) from God’s best gift, his loving presence (being), then we are overspiritualizing prayer.
Instead of fighting anxiety, we can use it as a springboard to bending our hearts to God. Instead of trying to suppress anxiety, manage it, or smother it with pleasure, we can turn our anxiety toward God.
A praying life isn’t simply a morning prayer time; it is about slipping into prayer at odd hours of the day, not because we are disciplined but because we are in touch with our own poverty of spirit, realizing that we can’t even walk through a mall of our neighborhood without the help of the Spirit of Jesus.
Learning to pray doesn’t offer us a less busy life; it offers us a less busy heart. In the midst of outer busyness
We have an allergic reaction to dependency, but this is the state of the heart most necessary for a praying life. A needy heart is a praying heart. Dependency is the heartbeat of prayer.
If you are not praying, then you are quietly confident that time, money, and talent are all you need in life. You'll always be a little too tired,
a little too busy. But, if like Jesus you realize you can't do life on your own, then no matter how busy,no matter how tired you are, you will find the time to pray.