Prayer Mentoring with Philip Yancey

Most of my prayer posts to date have been from pastors or theologians. Philip Yancey is a journalist. He approaches the subject of prayer more like a layman than a clergyman. I have found his writings over the years to be thought provoking as he tends to question everything and not accept your typical religious answers. Since I am not a fan of religion I find this approach refreshing. Hope you enjoy his thoughts. There will most likely be more next week.

“Prayer is to the skeptic a delusion, a waste of time. To the believer it represents perhaps the most important use of time. As a Christian I believe the latter. Why, then, is prayer so problematic? The British pastor Martyn Lloyd-Jones summed up the confusion: “Of all the activities in which the Christian engages, and which are part of the Christian life, there is surely none which causes so much perplexity, and raises so many problems, as the activity which we call prayer.” p.16

“I realize that my image of God, more than anything else, determines my degree of honesty in prayer. Do I trust God with my naked self? Foolishly, I hide myself in fear that God will be displeased, though in fact the hiding may be what displeases God the most. From my side, the wall seems like self-protection; from God’s side it looks like lack of trust. In either case, the wall will keep us apart until I acknowledge my need and God’s surpassing desire to meet it. When I finally approach God, in fear and trembling, I find not a tyrant but a lover.” p.44

“Jesus valued prayer enough to spend many hours at the task. If I had to answer the question “Why pray?” in one sentence, it would be, “Because Jesus did.” He bridged the chasm between God and human beings. While on earth he became vulnerable, as we are vulnerable; rejected, as we are rejected; and tested, as we are tested. In every case his response was prayer.” p.50

“Prayer is a subversive act performed in a world that constantly calls faith into question. I may have a sense of estrangement in the very act of prayer, yet by faith I continue to pray and to look for other signs of God’s presence.” p.51

“I have learned to see prayer not as my way of establishing God’s presence, rather as my way of responding to God’s presence that is a fact whether or not I can detect it.” p.51

“Though my needs may drive me to prayer, there I come face-to-face with my greatest need: an encounter with God’s own self.” p.55

“Prayer that is based on relationship and not transaction may be the most freedom-enhancing way of connecting to a God whose vantage point we can never achieve and can hardly imagine. Quoting a Psalm, Peter assures us that “the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous and his ears are attentive to their prayer.” We need not bang a drum or bring animal sacrifices to get God’s full attention; we already have it.” p.55

I have bolded a few of the phrases that particularly grabbed my attention. And I hope that as I continue to learn how to be a pray-er that some of the things I am learning help you as well.

I’m just sayin’!

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