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prayer

January 2, 2008

I said I was going to read it again, and I started.

I didn’t really like the book much the first time I read it. I recognize an amazing man of God, but I also recognize captivating literature and this was entirely the former. I initially got the book because I’d heard of the way God used Brainerd to minister to Native Americans in the 18th century. I’d heard how he would stand and preach a simple message on the love of God, through a drunken interpreter, and half-way through people young and old would start groaning under the weight of conviction and crying out to God for mercy.

That happens, but that happens toward the end of Brainerd’s very short life. For years all he writes about is his miserable condition before the throne of God, and the difficulty or ease with which he sat in prayer that day. That’s it. He doesn’t even bother the reader with his secular vocations or activities, nor is there mention of his family or friends – just what’s going on between him and God. Over and over and over.

Four hundred years later, I am feeling completely worthless in prayer, but I’m also feeling the Lord wants more of it from me … so I’m on a mission to figure it out. David Brainerd has some insight to offer, so I recently peeled back the cover again to read with new eyes.

Eighty pages into it, the first thing I notice is the extent of Brainerd’s dependence on God. He expresses his need for God’s mercy, blessing, goodness, etc. pretty clearly. “No poor creature stands in need of divine grace more than I, and none abuse it more than I have done, and still do.”

As I’m trying to analyze his prayer life, though, I’m getting that Brainerd also understands that he is dependent on God just to pray. He uses the word “enabled” a lot in speaking of prayer; on good days he writes he was “enabled” to pray.

The more I think about it, the more I realize he’s right and a lot of Christendom is wrong in the way we approach prayer. There are times when it feels like we’re bribing God with prayer, as though He owes us something because we took an hour out of our day to talk to Him.

Even on the good days, when we’re excited to get alone with the Lord for a while, do we consider that the act of prayer is a gift that we absolutely don’t deserve? Do we understand that it’s God who enables us to talk to Him, make requests of Him, or use His name in shaping the world around us?

I didn’t.

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One Comment leave one →
  1. jeffie permalink
    January 3, 2008 3:49 pm

    a good and valid point, do you think there is a counter balance to this? what about hebrews who encouages us to enter BOLDLY ?

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