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Simply saying

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Matthew 6:7
Jesus says to the people, "When you pray, do not rattle off long prayers like the pagans, who think they will be heard because of their many words."

In Matthew 6, Jesus talks of giving, prayer, fasting and fear. He tells us how to pray when we're together, and something of how to pray when I'm alone. Spending time alone with God is a big deal. Speaking less rather than more while we're together is the goal.

"Silence is God's first language." Silence gradually becomes rich with harmonies and counter-harmonies, just like music. There are sounds in silence. God's "still, small voice" whispers his love.

Eugene Peterson's The Message subtitles this section of the Sermon on the Mount, "Pray with Simplicity:"

"Here's what I want you to do," Jesus says. "Find a quiet, secluded place so you won't be tempted to role-play before God. Just be there as simply and honestly as you can manage. The focus will shift from you to God, and you will begin to sense his grace. This is your Father you are dealing with, and he knows better than you what you need. With a God like this loving you, you can pray very simply."

Turn something off instead of on. You pick. Now listen, and notice how your thoughts rise up to meet you. Let them come and let them go, one at a time, and don't worry when one replaces another. Discover your confusion at not having anything to distract you. Settle. As Peterson says, "The focus will shift from you to God, and you will begin to sense his grace."

This shift takes longer than I expect. And this is the beginning of prayer.

Lord, teach me patience with my prayer. I know you want me to pray so I'll discover you and stop listening to myself, and that's what I want too. No hurry, you say. No hurry. Relax. Show me how, Lord, and please stay with me while I learn your quiet way.

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