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Praying Alone: Remember – You are Never Alone

April 27th, 2010
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Jesus often spent time praying alone. Throughout the Scriptures we can find pictures of men and women who would go up on a mountain, meditate on God’s Word, and pray. There is great benefit in sitting back, removing yourself from the commotion and distractions of life, and hear what God has to say in His Word, and speak to Him in prayer about what troubles you, confessing your sins, and giving thanks for His mercies. You may be by yourself, but remember, you are never alone.

This is true. I know it is true. But I must admit that I don’t find this a natural practice for me. It’s hard. So often I have so many things running through my head, that slowing down long enough to hear what God has to say and speaking to him, well, it just gets pushed down on the priority list.

It would be easy to go into a discussion about how we are too busy today, we have too many things coming at us, and that we don’t have time to sit down and smell the flowers. This is all true, but I think really misses the point. The point isn’t that we are so busy. The point, rather, is that we don’t want to hear God or speak to Him. Like Adam and Eve hiding from God in the Garden, we run from our conversations with Him because we fear His anger, we don’t want to disappoint, or even because we don’t want Him to know how much we hurt or how angry we are at Him.

So how do we break the cycle of isolation from God in prayer? Here are a few suggestions that have worked for me over the years, and I would love to hear yours as well:

  • Keep it simple. Using devotional guides can be of great benefit, but don’t allow the process of meditation and prayer become more important than actually meditating on His Word and praying. If that means something very simple, like Portals of Prayer, great! If that means using something a little more extended like To Live with Christ or The Treasury of Daily Prayer, then that’s fine too. It is more important to develop the regular habit of praying than to have just the right system.
  • Connect prayer to God’s Word. For Lutherans, when we pray it is in connection with hearing God in His Word. While I may pray alone, I am never really alone. Christ prays with me. It is always a holy conversation.
  • Make a list. Maybe this is obvious, but don’t allow prayer to become so spiritual that you actually forget your own personality! I am a list guy. I am always writing lists. So if I’m going to remember to pray, and to pray for specific people or things, I am going to write it down. It’s that simple. If I don’t write it down, my own natural inclination toward busyness and distractions will drive the whole thing right out of my head.
  • Remember that Christ prays for you even when you don’t pray. If you forget to pray for a day, be at peace! Christ prays for you even when you forget. Jesus is loving and forgiving, and longs to be in your presence. He will pray for you even if you don’t.

There are many things that could be said about the privilege of praying alone. God loves it when you pray to Him! He leaves to speak to you and to hear you. Trust that praying in Him and to Him is good, and will be to your great eternal benefit.

HT: Pastor Peperkorn

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Categories: Uncategorized
  1. April 27th, 2010 at 09:09 | #1

    To me, “keeping it simple” means simply following the prescription Luther gives in the Small Catechism: http://tinyurl.com/22wjegb

    I have taught my children to pray this way, just as Luther advised me to. It is simple enough that it can be done EVERY DAY without fail. It also is short enough that it becomes memorized in a very short period of time. This method of praying can follow you everywhere — on vacation, out in the woods, and all the way to the nursing home when you’re blind and feeble-minded. When habituated by daily practice, it is never forgotten. You don’t need a book right by you, nor a list. Although it is very simplistic, it is also entirely complete. Law and Gospel come through loud and clear.

    Here is Luther:

    “I am also a doctor and a preacher, just as learned and experienced as all of them who are so high and mighty. Nevertheless, each morning and whenever else I have time, I do as a child who is being taught the catechism and I read and recite word for word the Lord’s Prayer, the Ten Commandments, the Creed, the Psalms etc. I must still read and study the catechism –and I also do so gladly” (Preface to the Large Catechism, Kolb/Wengert, 380).

    “The world has now become very sure of itself. It relies on books and thinks that if these are read it knows everything. The devil almost succeeded in getting me, too, to become lazy and secure and think: ‘Here you have the books. If you read them you’ll have the answers.’ So the fanatics and sacramentarians suppose that because they have read only one little book they know everything. Against such security I pray the catechism every day like my little Hans and ask God to keep me in his dear holy Word, lest I grow weary of it” (Luther in a “table Talk” of July or August 1532, AE 54:163).

    In addition to what Luther prescribed in the Small Catechism, I have taught my children to begin by praying the Ten Commandments. If we have specific things to pray for, we add them right after the Lord’s Prayer. I hope and pray that this routine stays with them for life.

    For me, these words near the end always tie it all together and give me peace to go to sleep or start the day: “For into Thy hands I commend myself, my body and soul, and all things.”

    I’m not saying you shouldn’t do more. More is always better. But how many of us actually can say that we do at least what Luther prescribed in the Small Catechism? To me, this is the gold standard of personal prayer. We all should try to do more, but if we don’t insist on this simple non-negotiable “minimum,” I have found that we either are doing great or we’re doing nothing, with “nothing” being more the rule than the exception. This simple prescription ensures we never fall into doing nothing.

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