Monday, February 22, 2010

Partnering in Prayer - A Lenten Devotion - Day 6 - Release Your Inhibitions in Prayer

Day 6 – Monday
Release Your Inhibitions in Prayer

Many people don’t know that I hate praying out loud in front of people. You might think that’s strange, since I do it almost every day in my job. I pray in worship services, in Sunday school classes, in hospitals, nursing homes, and jails. I pray with people in my office as I do premarital counseling sessions, or meet with them about crises of faith. I pray with people in their homes, and over a coffee at Starbuck’s. So why do I hate to pray out loud in front of people?

Because for me, prayer is a deeply personal thing that reveals a bit of my soul with every word I say. Sometimes when I’m by myself and it’s just me and God, I pray with audible words. Other times I pray in the quiet of my heart. Often I find that my emotions are gushing out so much that human speech cannot contain all that I want to say. That’s why I’m glad that Romans 8:26-27 assures me:

“In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints in accordance with God's will.”

It’s important to release your inhibitions when you pray, when you’re with other people. If you never pray out loud because you’re afraid of how other people are going to think of you, or because you’re afraid it will make you vulnerable, then you’re letting other people dictate how you communicate with God. Your prayer is between you and God, not you and them. Even if you’re praying in a group, make your prayer personal. Forget them, and just be with God. If you tailor your fit your human audience, then you’ve got the wrong audience. God is your audience when you pray. If you refuse to pray out loud when others might hear you, just think about how you might be depriving a young Christian of the opportunity to learn to pray. It’s been said that prayer is more caught than taught. By praying out loud, you allow other young Christians around you to learn from you.

You need to release your inhibitions when you pray alone. Yes, even when there’s nobody around but you and God, you can feel self-conscious about how you pray. You can overcome this by changing your prayer posture. Stand with your arms raised to the heavens, even if that’s not normally how you pray. Or try singing the Psalms aloud, making up your own music as you go along. Or let those groans of the spirit flow from your lips, regardless of whether they make sense to you. The Spirit knows what He’s praying on your behalf, so you can’t do it wrong. Put on some Christian music and dance before the Lord—it’s biblical to do so, and you might need the workout…

Physically as well as spiritually.

If you’re going to give God your whole self, then you’ve got to hold nothing back. Practice making yourself a little uncomfortable in prayer. Like an athlete trains his body, train your spirit. Release your inhibitions before God, and see the blessing that comes.

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