Saturday, July 20, 2013

In Which I Get Some (Prayer) Things Off My Chest

I lead the weekly prayer time at our church.
And I believe in prayer.
And I believe prayer is important.

Most believers would probably not disagree with me.
At least in word.
But what am I to presume when, on average,
3.4 people show up 
to pray together at our weekly prayer time?
Is it not our behavior that proves our beliefs? values? priorities?
Isn't that the point James was making?

Words are really only hot air unless we give them feet.
So what does it say when christians recite the importance of prayer 
but do little to practice it?

Oh, I know what some might say...
I have heard it ad nauseum lately - 
"Just because I don't come to prayer time doesn't mean I don't pray."
"You can't judge a person's spiritual walk by whether they show up for prayer."

Both of those statements can be full of truth.
Both of those statements can also be 
defensive justifications of living life on our terms.

And my truth is this, 
I think these statements are more often, 
most often, 
simply deflective, defensive statements 
to hide our luke-warmness.

If the church really believed prayer was powerful and necessary;
if the church really believed prayer was important enough to practice both privately and corporately...
don't you think we would see evidence in the body of this passionate pursuit of God?

Prayer is fresh air.
When is the last time the majority of a congregation 
knew they were gasping for breath because they were God-deprived?

Prayer is connection.
How often do we look on prayer as an obligation to fulfill instead of a privilege to embrace?

I am not trying to point fingers.
I am not out to book anyone on a guilt trip.
(Both of which I could easily be accused of 
because we don't like to talk about these things.)

I have my own shortcomings on this issue.
I, too, can lack zeal and commitment in my own life.


I sometimes wish I had the ability to call the church to prayer. 
Solid prayer.
Unending prayer.
Constant prayer.
With no agenda.
Only expectation.

I wish I could clear the calendars.
Stop the activity of doing.
And just be.
As a congregation.
A body.

I wish I could help others taste the sweetness of
"wasting time with God" 
as Henri Nouwen describes it.

I wish I could help another savor the moments of relationship
with the One who knows us best and loves us most.

I wish the church would wake up.
I wish sleepy headed christians would become passionate dreamers.
I wish church leaders would see prayer as the first step 
of decision-making 
not the last resort in a crisis.
I wish followers of the Way 
would show up to do the things we say are important.

Either that or forget about prayer.
I am quite tired of talk.
Saying something is true doesn't make it true.
Nor does writing something down as a value make it valuable.
Sometimes words are just hot air
and written values are just good kindling.

It's ok.
You can tell me I am oversimplifying.
You can tell me I have no idea what your quiet time looks like.
Both of those statements are probably true.

All I know is the church is lacking passion for the One who called her.
And I don't like it.
In fact, I hate it.

All I know is prayer is a conduit that keeps passion alive.
So I will keep at it.
And pray for awakening.

“To be a Christian without prayer is no more possible 

than to be alive without breathing.”

-Martin Luther King Jr.


  1. Wow, Niki! First of all, what a gift for writing you have. Secondly, thank you. I share these thoughts with you. Thank you for reminding me that I'm not alone. My wish my dad could be here to read this but I know he's smiling down on you from heaven while at the same time weeping because of the truth in these words...

    1. Thank you, Ryan, for your affirming words. And I miss your dad so very much! It's also nice to know there are others who feel the same - maybe our discontent while continue to keep us on our knees on behalf of the church!

  2. Preach it sister!! So very true and I am guilty of this as anyone. You are truly anointed!