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Where Your Best Prayers Take You

You are on a journey today. A thought, worry, interaction, or experience can send you off in a good or bad way. You are always going somewhere, even if it doesn’t feel like now. All kinds of things can take you off in a specific direction.  The same can be true of your life with God.

“Go where your best prayers take you.” writes Frederick Buechner. Your prayers can take you somewhere. Where are they taking you?

While there may not be a right or a wrong way to pray, there may be ways that are “better.” If your prayers lead you to despise God and others, that’s not your best prayer. If your prayers cause you anxiety, that may not be your best prayer. If your prayers lead you to think or do things that go against God or God’s way, that is not your best prayer.

I have friends and family members who have a gift for prayer. It comes naturally and flows out of them like a beautiful work of art. I have had to work at, learn about, and grow in prayer.  Here are some things I have learned along the way:

My best prayers stem from a grateful heart. The way you pray changes when you are giving thanks, and you can always find something to be thankful for. Meister Eckhart wrote,” If the only prayer you said was thank you, that would be enough.” Giving thanks to God can also involve adoring God. As we give thanks, we acknowledge the holiness, goodness, faithfulness, and love of God, and more. Our best prayers arise from a grateful heart.

My best prayers are often prayers of surrender shared with an open heart and mind and a willingness to let go of my ways in favor of God’s. Sharing our needs and concerns with God and then leaving them with Him leads us to a better place.

My best prayers are conversational. Prayer involves listening and responding, speaking and waiting for a response. God speaks to us; our answers are our prayers. “And before a listener can become a listener,” Eugen Rosenstock-Huessy says,” something has to happen to him: He must expect.”** We can trust that God hears us and will respond to our prayers. Our best prayers are personal and relational.

My best prayers often come from God’s word. We can pray scripture. Jesus often prays the Psalms.  I like to pray a short phrase or a verse rather than a more extensive chapter simply because it helps me focus and be present with what I am praying. Augustine said, “We recite this prayer of the Psalm in Him, and He recites it in us.”

My best prayers are honest. If you turn to the Bible's prayer book, Psalms, you will find honest prayers that ask hard questions and share the full range of feelings with God. Ole Hallesby shares,” Your helplessness is your best prayer…to pray is to let Jesus into our needs.”* God is not surprised by our thoughts, concerns, or sins. We can be real with God in our prayers.

My best prayers lead to peace. At some of the most challenging times in my life, when people have been praying for me, the result has been, as Paul describes it, “a peace that passes understanding”. The same is true in my prayers as well. Paul tells us to pray about everything with thanksgiving. And when we do, the peace of God will be with us, guarding our hearts and minds. (Phil 4) We can tell God anything and everything with thanksgiving, knowing He will hear and care.  In that assurance, our prayers can lead us to peace.

My best prayers draw me close to God. Sometimes, this happens best in silence. The story of the old Russian peasant is one to emulate. As the story goes, an old Russian peasant spent an hour each day sitting in the church. When asked why, he replied, “ I look at God. God looks at me. And we tell each other that we love each other.” You don’t have to sit in a church. Wherever you are, you can be with God. Eugene Peterson writes,” In prayer, we intend to leave the world of anxieties and enter a world of wonder…(we) enter a God-centered world.”***

Psalm 25 gives us a beautiful picture of where our best prayers can take us: we can be friends with God (v.14). While human friendship is not the same as friendship with God, some of the same basic principles apply. Friends spend time with each other, are available, accept you, and stick with you. As your friend, God will do this with you.

Where do your best prayers take you?


*Ole Hallesby, Prayer.

**quoted by Eugene Peterson, Answering Prayer

*** Eugene Peterson, Answering Prayer


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