Prayers for the Simple of Heart

Prayer is a big part of my life. I start each morning with a cup of coffee and a Bible, and spend the next thirty minutes reading and praying…with an emphasis on the latter. It’s not always easy to get up at 5:30 a.m. to do this, but if I don’t, I know that I’ll miss it later in the day. It’s a discipline that energizes.

I don’t understand how prayer works. God’s ways are generally incomprehensible to me. For example, I pray each morning for my brothers and sisters around the world who are being persecuted for their faith. I don’t know why God allows that persecution to continue on such a wide scale; all I know is that Scripture tells us to prayer for the persecuted, and when you ask the persecuted what they covet more than anything else, it’s the prayers of other believers. So I pray that, today, God will grant each of His children supernatural peace, endurance and even joy…joy such that even their persecuters will be drawn to Jesus, turning to good what was meant for evil, and expanding the Kingdom of God.

Sometimes I think I’m in a rut when I pray, because I tend to pray the same things every day. I use the ACTS sequence as my guide: adoration of the Father, confession of my daily sins, thanksgiving for blessings beyond number, supplication on behalf of those whom God has placed in my life and who have special needs that only He can meet. I try not to pray by rote, but it’s hard, sometimes. I think God understands my weakness, and makes allowances for it. He’s answered enough of my prayers that I’ve pretty much stopped worrying about that aspect of it.

Nevertheless, I appreciate the simple prayers. I guess I’m a simple guy; I’d like to be, anyway…shedding the complications and arguments that tend to distract me from what’s important. Simple prayers speak to my would-be simple heart.

I’ve previously referred obliquely to one such prayer (well, two, actually) found in Anne Lamott’s Traveling Mercies:

Here are the two best prayers I know: “Help me, help me, help me,” and “Thank you, thank you, thank you.” A woman I know says, for her morning prayer, “Whatever,” and then for the evening, “Oh, well,” but has conceded that these prayers are more palatable for people without children.”

“Whatever” and “Oh, well.” Snapshots that capture God’s faithfulness and His grace. They are exquisite in their distillation of truth…and they dismiss any argument about not having time to pray.

Another simple-but-theologically-rich prayer was shared by someone in our Sunday School group a couple of days ago. She heard it at a recent women’s conference, where the speaker told of hearing a prayer voiced by a very young girl. “Jesus, I hope you have a good time in my heart today!”

God lovingly tolerates our epic prayers, but I suspect He reserves His broadest smiles for those simple ones coming from simple hearts.

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  1. Excellent thoughts on prayer. Thank you. I, too, begin the morning with a cup of coffee, the Bible, and prayer. My challenge is to emphasize the latter more. My mind tends to wonder early in the morning, especially when reading some scripture then trying to pray. But the simple prayers are more frequent, easily uttered, and focusing. We should give them more consideration, in practice and in discussion.

  2. As always, your thoughts on a devotional life have blessed me and reminded me of the essence of what is the most profitable way to spend our time in order to set life’s other priorities in their proper context. I missed this posting somehow on Tuesday but I’m grateful I skimmed down the page today to see if I’d read all you had to say this week.

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