Learning to Pray

This winter I visited Kenya with 14 other former SOS summer staff. While I was there, I lived a praying life. I constantly felt myself relying on God. My prayers weren’t limited to a few minutes every morning. My felt need for God in unfamiliar situations caused me to pray without ceasing.

Since being back in the States, I’ve focused much time and energy on learning to pray and practicing this praying life in my day-to-day life. I’m re-reading A Praying Life, by Paul Miller.In addition to Scripture, I’m using The Valley of Vision as a helpful guide (I highly recommend this book. Other than the Bible, this is the book I treasure most).

Recently I was struck with a thought that has made a huge difference in my approach to learning how to pray. It happened while I was praying for a stronger desire to pray. I realized that instead of praying for a stronger desire to pray, I should pray for a deeper desire for God.

This has been perhaps the biggest lesson that I’ve learned from Paul Miller. In A Praying Life, Miller says:

“Oddly enough, many people struggle to learn how to pray because they are focusing on praying, not on God. Making prayer the center is like making the conversation the center of a family mealtime. In prayer, focusing on the conversation is like trying to drive while looking at the windshield instead of through it. It freezes us, making us unsure of where to go. Conversation is only the vehicle through which we experience one another.”

A Praying Life, page 20

So if you find yourself struggling with prayer (and we all do, don’t we?), focus less on learning how to pray. Pray less about desiring to pray, and focus more on getting to know God. Instead of praying for a stronger desire to pray, pray instead for a deeper desire for God. Let your praying life be motivated by your deep affection for your Heavenly Father.

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