May 30th – Pray as you can



One of the great maxims about Christian prayer is simply this:
“Pray as you can, not as you can’t”.
I said yesterday that no one taught me how to pray, but I suppose that wasn’t the whole truth. I learned most from being with people who did pray. I even copied their words and phrases, but I also read books on prayer and private devotion -dozens of them, and found great insights in all of them. Some of them stimulated me to pray more deeply,but once again the barrier was how to turn inwards and upwards in my spirit.I always found that difficult.How could I be sure that any ‘inner voices’ were God’s and not my own unconscious mind? I found that praying the Bible was the best guide to that.
Years ago I discovered what was a great benefit for me, that of writing to God every morning. It’s not so much a spiritual journal, but a diary of private prayer, and is for no one’s eyes but God’s and mine alone. I don’t say this has done wonders – although it has helped me, but there must be thousands of others who would not be helped by doing this, but find it to be a chore, another job to be done, like cleaning your teeth, or brushing your shoes. Remember, if it helps you to pray-then do it. If not, don’t. Pray as you can – not as you can’t.
Jesus and tens of thousands of his greatest followers never prayed with a pen in their hands, so far as I know. Don’t despise this – I find it helps me.

Martin Luther’s favourite way of praying was to meditate on the 10 Commandments, and the Lord’s Prayer, and measure his soul by them.
Let Psalm 139 comfort us this day. Part of it reads:
“O Lord, you have searched me and you know me.You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar.You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all of my ways.Before a word is on my tongue you know it completely O Lord.” Psalm 139: 1-4

A Prayer:
Lord, if I were you, I wouldn’t talk to me – but you are you, and you do. Hallelujah.

Now pray as you read each section of Psalm 139. But let Jesus reshape the words of verses 19-22 before you pray them!

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Thought 4 The Day

The Old Testament scriptures are intelligible only when understood as predicting and prefiguring Christ. (C. Hodge)

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