Freshening Up Your Prayer Life

 In Pastor Jeff's Blog

Let all that I am wait quietly before God,
    for my hope is in him.
He alone is my rock and my salvation,
    my fortress where I will not be shaken.
My victory and honor come from God alone.
    He is my refuge, a rock where no enemy can reach me.
O my people, trust in him at all times.
    Pour out your heart to him,
    for God is our refuge.  – Psalm 62:5-8

My prayer life is like a loaf of bread. It’s nourishing, but it can grow stale after a while.

Recently I’ve been reading through the Psalms in my morning devotional time and I’ve noticed that the Psalmist’s prayers tend to fall into four basic categories (big nod to Anne Lamott here):

Wow The psalms are filled with expressions of awe and wonder over who God is and what God has done (e.g. Psalm 104)
Oops The psalmist is incredibly transparent about his failures. He frequently lays them boldly before God and asks for forgiveness (e.g. Psalm 51)
Thanks The psalms overflow with outbursts of heart-felt gratitude for God’s unfailing love and endless mercy (e.g. Psalm 138)
Help The psalmist is remarkably and persistently bold in asking God for help (e.g. Psalm 69)

The psalms can enrich our prayer vocabulary and challenge us to give voice to every emotion, from ecstatic joy to deep despair. If your prayer life could stand a little freshening up, there’s no better place to turn than to the Psalm. Read them. Meditate on them. Pray them back to God.

This week, try this pattern in your daily prayers: Wow, Oops, Thanks and Help. Reflect on each category, and whatever the Spirit brings to mind, express it with the fullness of your heart. Friendship with God begins with honest conversation. If the psalms teach us nothing else, it’s that God delights in unfiltered prayer that expresses what’s really happening in our heart, mind and life. That’s what keeps our prayer life fresh and nourishing.

Jeff Marian serves as lead pastor at Prince of Peace Lutheran Church in Burnsville, MN.

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