Not too long ago I was asked the question, “What one word comes to mind when you hear the word ‘prayer’?” I was struck by my internal response: ‘boring’. Yes, even though I have been a Christian for many years and you might think that I would be more spiritual than this, I can feel like prayer is boring. There is much in me that resists prayer. My mind wanders in prayer. I can barely ﬁnish a prayer without getting distracted. I can get sleepy. Prayer is often not as interesting as reading a Christian book or listening to a sermon (or let’s be honest, watching March Madness this time of year on t.v.).
Recently as I have been learning more about prayer, I have realized something. So much of the reason that prayer is boring for me is not because God is boring, but because of my own issues. Prayer is so easily limited to my own little world, my own little routine. What comes to my mind to even offer to God are things I barely care about (did I remember to pray for my great Aunt Betsy who stubbed her toe on the coffee table last week?). Check out these thoughts from Richard Foster’s book on Prayer:
“If we truly love people, we will desire for them far more than it is within our power to give them, and this will lead us to prayer. Intercession is a way of loving others…In the ongoing work of the kingdom of God, nothing is more important than Intercessory Prayer. People today desperately need help that we can give them…Individuals are living lives of quiet desperation, without purpose or future. And we can make a difference if we learn to pray on their behalf… This is not optional; it is a sacred obligation - and a precious privilege - of all who take up the yoke of Christ.”
Many things cut to the heart from this quote. Is Foster correct? Is there no more important work in the kingdom of God than to pray on behalf of others? How could I dispute that? And if this is true, then what does that say about my love for others? If I truly loved people I would want more for them than I could give them myself, so it would only make sense that I would make an appeal to the all-powerful and all-loving God on their behalf.
Why is prayer often boring for me? Because I am the one whose heart is so often selﬁsh, and who so rarely has eyes to see the wants and needs of others. It is because I am the one who fails to remember that the God of the universe is real and present and actually cares about my prayers more than I do.
Lord help us, by Your Spirit, to search our hearts and to offer You our deepest desires. And where there ought to be concern for others and for Your kingdom, and where instead there is now selﬁshness and greed, Lord change us. Would you inspire a prayer renewal among us? Not so we can say we pray more or better, but because we need more of You and desire to see You move. In Jesus’ Name I pray. Amen.