Perhaps like you, my prayer life has had about a million different faces over the years.
Growing up, prayer looked like closing my eyes and holding hands around the dinner table and saying ThankyouJesusforthisfoodandforthisfamilyAmen as fast as humanly possible so we could eat the food in front of us. Beyond that, it was boring, uncertain, nonexistent.
What was prayer but something I was supposed to do in order to illicit a desired response?
By the time I got to high school, I began to set the egg timer, mostly because mentors in my life told me that being a good Christian meant being good at praying …but I never did make the twenty minute mark, mostly because twenty minutes was far too long to keep my eyes closed concentrating on something I couldn’t see, let alone hear.
In college, I started journaling to Jesus, begging for certain boys to like me, asking for strength not to party again the next weekend, not to be tempted by the things of this world. In my twenties, I experimented with different forms of prayer, sometimes going on walks and sometimes making my way through acronyms designed to make my prayer life more successful. By the time my thirties rolled around, I was rather professional in the prayer realm, at least when it came to leading other people in prayers that sounded really, really good and really, really holy.
Sometimes I even called myself a professional Christian.
But my actual prayer life? It virtually non-existent, at least not in the way others had told me it needed to look in order to really be loved by God.
I suppose that’s why I’m so excited to finally hold Justin McRobert’s new book, Prayer: Forty Days of Practice, in my hands. Because it’s not about the formula, nor is it about saying the right words. It’s not about closing my eyes, even though sometimes it is, and it’s not about setting the egg timer, one minute of good intentions at a time. It’s not about prayer looking a certain way or about me acting a certain way so I can get this act of communion right, because prayer is not about doing but it’s about being.
And my friend Justin gets that.
In a most beautiful, simple and practical sort of way, Justin, along with co-author and artist Scott Erickson, invite the reader to simply be and to enter into a new kind of practice of prayer. Take Prayer 26, which goes along with the picture above:
May my disappointmentsin myself and others
Lead me to hope for
and work for change
Rather than lead me to
Along with the paired illustration, that’s the prayer for the day. That’s what the reader gets to sit with and think on and chew over; that’s what we get to let ruminate in our souls throughout the day.
Because disappointment? It happens, over and over and over again. But even our disappointments can be a catalyst for good, a breath toward wholeness in an already broken world. And sometimes our disappointments can even teach us to color outside the lines, one healing, hopeful scribble at a time.
So, friends, do yourself (and your prayer life) a favor and pick up a copy. Scott and Justin’s book released last week, but as y’all know, we were celebrating another book last week, a book I hope you’ve also picked up and started reading by now.
And, who knows? Justin’s book might even show you another two million ways to practice prayer.
I’m telling you, Prayer: Forty Days of Practice, is awesome. And just to sweeten the deal, I’m giving away a copy of Justin’s book here and on my Instagram page later this week. Simply leave a comment telling Justin why you’re excited to read his book!
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