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/_.jpg" width=120 height=79 alt="" border=0 align=left hspace=5>Learning to Pray (Part 2):

by Lynn Anderson


    Back at our discussion table, Clarke piped up again, “Yeah. I’ve been fooled by a bunch of those gimmicks too. But some techniques have really helped. For example, my small accountability group helps me keep my prayer life on track.” The circle agreed that they found it nearly impossible even to stay alive spiritually without their small group — much less flourish. Clarke cautioned, “But, while my group does keep me consistent, it doesn’t keep my prayers fresh.”

    “Every time I walk into a Christian book store, ” Jim added, “I see a new batch of stuff on prayer. Some I’ve found somewhat helpful. For example, you’ve likely used the A.C.T.S. formula. (Begin with adoration. Then confession. Then thanksgiving. Then supplication.) This plan helped me a bunch, but even it doesn’t keep my prayers from becoming repetitious and self-consumed.”

    The group kicked around several helpful prayer methods that day, agreeing that most might be useful to a point. But they also agreed that, “At best humanly generated ‘prayer formulae’ are always limited. Eventually they all grow stale.”

    Actually, most of the published ‘prayer formulae’ are simply devotional techniques found useful by their authors. But, since we are not all wired up alike, copycatting another person’s devotional disciplines is risky. A prayer formula that helped me may not help you at all. Besides, sometimes after a ‘sure fire prayer technique’ gets published, even its author finds it has become rote and stale. Prayer ‘techniques’ which at first look like ‘the highway to Holiness’, often turn out to be merely blind alleys.

    “So, is it hopeless then?” queried Joe, one of the quieter persons leaning in around our table. “What can be done to keep our prayer lives fresh and vibrant?”

    Daunting question. But, there actually may be an answer!

They all prayed and sang the Psalms!
    The most tried and true approach to personal prayer renewal is no mere fad or quick fix. And it is often overlooked in our haste to find short cuts. But it is huge. In fact, for three thousand years virtually all the real giants of the faith have one thing in common: They all prayed and sang the Psalms!

    Scripture underscores this practice. Surely something larger than co-incidence wrote one hundred fifty Psalms into the bosom of our Bibles. And it is not mere coincidence that Psalms flow so freely from the lips of Jesus. And still no coincidence that, even in our day, believers who long for a deeper walk with God will sooner or later turn to the Psalms. Nor that those slimmed down pocket Bibles contain at least the New Testament plus the Psalms.

    The authors of these timeless poems and songs did not hastily scribble them down on napkins, during some rare moments of religious euphoria. Rather, God-impassioned persons pondered profound ‘God-thoughts’ over long periods till their ‘praisings’ and ‘beseechings’ were eventually distilled into intricately woven Hebrew poetic form. More thoughtful reflections on God cannot be found than in the Psalms. Nor will we find more anguished callings out to Him. The Psalms run deepest, hit truest, last longest, and rise highest as the central column of prayer among the most passionate people of God.

      Title: ""
      Author: Lynn Anderson
      Publication Date: September 5, 2001


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