Sweet Hour of Prayer

Monday, August 16, 2010


This week, on M,W, F, I'm going to write about prayer. Now normally, that sentence would make me yawn. Maybe even roll my eyes. But hang on. See, I've been learning that prayer doesn't have to be a sleepy, meditative thing. There are lots of different ways to do it, and you can experiment a bit. I hope you will open your mind with me.


This all started when I attended church with my parents a few weeks ago. We sang that old hymn, Sweet Hour of Prayer, and as I read and sang the beautiful words, I felt awful. Guilty. Have I ever, in my entire life, spent an entire hour in prayer? Spent half an hour in prayer? Oh sure, I pray. Before meals. At bedtime, and sometimes in the morning. But after a few minutes, I usually get distracted - or fall asleep. So I was all ears for Dr. Rushing's sermon, Praying with Courage.

We read Genesis 18:20-32, Abraham's demanding prayer/bargaining session with God. Then we read Luke 11:1-13, Jesus' teaching on prayer. I encourage you to read both. Dr. Rushing noted that, in Luke, Jesus doesn't say anything about bowing your head, folding your hands, or being humble. Instead, Jesus encourages us to approach God like you would a loving parent. Not with your hat in hand, but with confidence. Dr. Rushing said we should be bold. We should lay our requests before God with courage and conviction, like Abraham.

As he preached, I tried to picture bold prayer. I imagined walking around my living room, actually talking out loud to God. "You know, Lord, I've got a lot on my mind. I've got a long list of complaints. I've got a lot of questions, and needs and desires, and I'm not sure where to start, but here it goes. . ."

This is not to say that prayer should not include praise and thanksgiving - it should. Most definitely. But in thinking about boldness, I was reminded that God already knows everything about me. He knows what I am really thinking. So why do I approach him in such a timid manner? Why do I get all formal and awkward? He knows I'm not timid! He knows what I want! Why not talk about it? Get it out there.

Oh sure, people might think I am crazy if they see me walking around, talking to myself, in my living room. But I say, who cares? And if you do, then find another time or place. Maybe it will be in the car, or in the shower - whenever you can grab a moment to yourself. I happen to think that God is going to appreciate the extra communication, and not frown on the mode of delivery.

Certainly there is a time for on your knees, humble prayer. There is a place for formality, reverence, and gratitude. But Dr. Rushing's sermon got me thinking about other types of prayer. About actually talking to God. Opening up and being real.

So let's do that. Let's be bold, and be real.

Do you talk to God like a loving parent? Are you honest and direct? Are you stuck in a formality rut, or do you like it formal (thank you very much) and find boldness distasteful? Do you pray all day long in little snippets, or are you an "hour of prayer" type of person?

Let's talk!


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4 Comments »

4 Responses to “Sweet Hour of Prayer”

  1. Prayer....hmm.. in the car, before I go to sleep, snippets and longer times, before meals...this doesn't help, bc I guess I am an all of the above pray-er!

    ReplyDelete
  2. How have you gotten inside my head? Your description of prayer is me. I'm constantly hoping to do better and failing. Thank goodness God forgives these faults. Meanwhile, I'm still hoping...

    ReplyDelete
  3. Of course, to be "bold" does not mean to talk to God irreverently or disrespectfully. The word used in Hebrews 4:16 means to come before the Lord with cheerful confidence. And Christians can do that because we are sons in the family of God, and His promise to hear and answer is utterly trustworthy.

    Your comment about walking around praying out loud reminded me of something. Hymn writer and pastor Oswald Smith habitually did that. One time he and his wife were staying at a hotel, and a friend came by to visit. He found Mrs. Smith sitting in the lobby! "Why are you down here?" he asked. "Oh," she replied, "Oswald is upstairs praying!"

    For myself, I often pray out loud when driving someplace in the car alone. (Sing hymns then too.) Thanks for your comments. Well done. Important things for us to think about.

    And if you’ll excuse a brief “commercial”... With the arrival of fall, we begin to think of the Christmas season up ahead. If you do not have a good book on the subject of our Christmas carols, I encourage you to take a look at mine, Discovering the Songs of Christmas. In it, I discuss the history and meaning of 63 carols and Christmas hymns. The book is available through Amazon. (Might make a great gift too!)

    ReplyDelete
  4. Of course, to be "bold" does not mean to talk to God irreverently or disrespectfully. The word used in Hebrews 4:16 means to come before the Lord with cheerful confidence. And Christians can do that because we are sons in the family of God, and His promise to hear and answer is utterly trustworthy.

    Your comment about walking around praying out loud reminded me of something. Hymn writer and pastor Oswald Smith habitually did that. One time he and his wife were staying at a hotel, and a friend came by to visit. He found Mrs. Smith sitting in the lobby! "Why are you down here?" he asked. "Oh," she replied, "Oswald is upstairs praying!"

    For myself, I often pray out loud when driving someplace in the car alone. (Sing hymns then too.) Thanks for your comments. Well done. Important things for us to think about.

    And if you’ll excuse a brief “commercial”... With the arrival of fall, we begin to think of the Christmas season up ahead. If you do not have a good book on the subject of our Christmas carols, I encourage you to take a look at mine, Discovering the Songs of Christmas. In it, I discuss the history and meaning of 63 carols and Christmas hymns. The book is available through Amazon. (Might make a great gift too!)

    ReplyDelete