Vocal Prayer: A Double-Edged Sword

In modern American churches, we tend to think of prayer as closing our eyes and saying words aloud. Since when was the dignity of prayer cheapened into such a pitiful form?

The authority on this subject I have to hand over to the Catholics. I so admire their history on the subject and the high respect they continue to give it. I am not here to bash vocal prayer; it’s a method of prayer that we practice regularly in the prayer room and I think it’s very necessary. But there’s so much more to prayer.

Here’s my quarrel with vocal prayer: prayer is so powerful (more on that later) and yet most of the time when we close our eyes and pray aloud, we’re not thinking about what we’re praying and even less are we thinking about Whom we are praying to.

“If a person does not think Whom he is addressing, and what he is asking for, and who it is that is asking and of Whom he is asking it, I do not consider that he is praying at all even though he be constantly moving his lips.” – St. Teresa of Avila, Fire Within

I’m going to do a series of posts on prayer: different types of prayer, the power of prayer…I guess it’s my weak attempt to change the mindset of my culture. Everything that I will say I’ve learned myself – I won’t be parroting my teachers or plagiarizing a book.

Stay tuned.

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I have now completed this series. Click here to read the rest of the posts.

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Somebody’s in Love with Me

When I first went to IHOP, I thought prayer was boring. When I did pray, I would draw out my little prayer list so that it took a half hour and then go on with my day. I can’t pinpoint the exact time, but when I began to hear the people around me talk about God everything changed; they began to tell me that God’s plan didn’t start at the cross.

As I looked at the Word closer, I had to ask myself the question, “Why did Jesus go to the cross for me?” It seemed a simple question with a cookie-cutter answer, but was it? Why would God come down from heaven, leave all of His glory and take on a little Jewish man’s body forever? (And Isaiah said Jesus wasn’t even good looking!) What was it in the heart of the Godhead that took such drastic measures to save a few creatures He formed from dirt?

In the American church, we tend to throw around the term, “we are the Bride of Christ;” I had heard that term a thousand times but I never stopped to think about it before. I think that somewhere back before Genesis, the Godhead wanted companionship: not because He lacked something, but simply because He wanted to share His pleasure, joy, love – with someone else. I can almost see Jesus going to His Father and saying, “Father, We have so much to give, is it good for God to be alone? Father, I desire a companion, someone whom I can love and who will love me voluntarily in return.”

I can’t prove this exact scenario, but once I begin thinking of myself as the Bride of Christ, I saw something amazing woven throughout Scripture: Jesus came and gave me the dignity to be His partner; He didn’t need me, He only wanted me! And He says that He will actually change His mind if I pray! (Examples: Ex. 32:7-14, Zeph. 2:3, Jer. 29:12) Without going really into depth regarding Jewish traditions, I believe Jesus died on the cross to pay the traditional bride price: He said we were worth the blood of the Son of God.

I’ve only scraped the surface of this whole “viewing myself as a bride” thing, but the reason why I connect it to prayer is this: prayer isn’t boring to me when I see that God created me because He wanted to, because He enjoys me and that He loves me so much that my prayers actually change His plans.