If you regularly follow my posts here, you have seen a fair number of quotes by Paul Miller recently and likely you will see more. I have been immersed in A Praying Life by him. It is not a new book, but it is new to me as a result of a dear friend who kept sharing about it. This sister and I share at significant levels and often whatever book either of us is reading gets shared in our conversations and then the other reads it.
To be honest, I did not pick up this title when she first talked about it. I have read a fair number of books on prayer over my lifetime, and they are generally good but tell me more about “how to” and types of prayers. All have been similar or talked about our need to pray more than most of us really do. All good information but something was missing in them for me.
The impact of the book on my friend nudged me to pick up the book and I have been very slowly savoring how Paul Miller shows us that prayer is so much more than those things and focuses on our relationship with Him because He wants intimacy with us. Amazing, right?
“When Jesus describes the intimacy he wants with us, he talks about joining us for dinner…
A praying life feels like our family mealtimes because prayer is all about relationship. It’s intimate and hints at eternity. We don’t think about communication or words but about whom we are talking with. Prayer is simply the medium through which we experience and connect to God.”Paul Miller
YES! Amen, to that. This quote from the very beginning of the book made it clear that whatever else might be said on prayer that Paul Miller wasn’t writing a book on prayers or formulaic recommendations. I was sold! My prayers occur many times during the day but intimately in my journal during my quiet time. What you find in my journal is not a prayer list but a conversation about what and who is on my heart and the condition of my own heart.
Maybe what happens too often is that we are not as excited about intimacy with the Lord as we would like to think. It’s one thing to get goose bumps singing and worshipping corporately in church on Sundays but quite different when we are one-on-one with Him in our messy condition. Or maybe we are so preoccupied with ourselves prayer can be like picking up a phone call and dumping out everything to the listener and then hanging up without giving the other person a chance to respond. (And He does want to respond.)
“When Jesus is with someone, that person is the only person in the room. Jesus slows down and concentrates on one person at a time. The way he loves people is identical to the way he prays to his Father.”Paul Miller
Reading about Jesus in the New Testament you see this all the time in his interactions: the lame man by the pool, the woman with the issue of blood, Zacchaeus up in a tree. The examples are there on every page.
Too often our prayers get relegated to lists about sickness, joblessness, crises, missionaries, and the like. Those are good and needed but how much more Jesus longs for with us. If we stay with that kind of praying, it’s almost like giving Santa Claus a list of what we want for Christmas.
Over and over again, page by page, Paul Miller invites us to taste prayer relationally with God, the Father, and Jesus, the Son, through his Spirit.
“A praying life isn’t simply a morning prayer time; it is about slipping into prayer at odd hours of the day, not because we are disciplined but because we are in touch with our own poverty of spirit, realizing that we can’t even walk through a mall or our neighborhood without the help of the Spirit of Jesus.”Paul Miller
If you have never read this book or you have read it but not in some time, I encourage you to put it beside your journal and Bible and discover or rediscover what can change your prayer life and draw you closer to the One you are praying to.
Let me leave you with a few final words of Paul Miller’s heart for prayer:“I do not understand prayer. Prayer is deeply personal and deeply mysterious. Adults try to figure out our causation. Little children don’t. They just ask. If you slow down and reflect, you’ll begin to see whole areas of your life where you’ve been prayerless.”