Concerning Prayer – Part 1

How does one pray? That was my starting point. I wasn’t concerned with silent prayer, but an out loud prayer which I had resolved to perform by myself in my apartment. I hadn’t prayed out loud for over a decade, but had decided that I wanted to break the streak. I was going to pray an honest-to-goodness heartfelt prayer–no matter how weird the physical manifestation of this desire felt.

“Should I sit? Should I stand? If sitting, can I be reclined?” I wondered. None of those options felt natural. “Ah, kneeling,” I remembered. “I could kneel. Yes, that seems universal. I will kneel at my bedside in a classically American nighttime pose of prayer,” I determined.

Leaning over, my elbows resting on the bed, I closed my eyes. My mind traversed all the greetings I could recall from all Christian prayers I had ever heard. “Dear God”, “Father”, “Our Father”, “God”, “Heavenly Father”, “Jesus”, “My Lord”, and a few others passed between my ears silently. But none came out.

Naturally, I was embarrassed by this speechlessness. It is a rare thing. I tried to rationalize and told myself, “Don’t sweat it. You’re praying the Lord’s Prayer in Greek when you read your homework. That should count.” But it doesn’t count. When I do that, I’m working on pronunciation, not speaking from the heart. Then I became a skeptic and thought, “This is bullshit anyhow. There’s no God. That’s why you can’t get yourself to address one.” But that felt more like a lie than counting the Greek thing did. Then it hit me like a ton of bricks. I couldn’t address God, Almighty God, the Creator, the Maker of heaven and earth out loud because I didn’t feel worthy of an audience with Him.

In seminary, as in most formal education, some classes have the word “survey” in the title. “Survey of (whatever).” Well, as I was kneeling there speechless, I surveyed my life and concluded that for the last 12 years or so I had been in the muck, in the mire, and been offending God. Physically, I would describe the feeling that overcame me as I concluded this as that of my heart imploding. Shoulders collapsing forward together. However slight the offense began some years ago, it culminated in my last job. I wasn’t (don’t) feeling guilty about nipples or alcohol or partying–that’s an entirely separate discussion. My feeling of unworthiness stemmed from the fact that that job fully highlighted that I had been living without purpose. Or for the wrong purpose (fame or money) which is the same thing. Here I am, a created being brimming with potential, and I have been living most of my adult life without regard for my Creator. And now it’s been so long that I feel like the gulf between us is too great. The worst part is that I know the end of the story and yet I still feel this way.

In any case, you’re going to get another post in a couple hours which contains a link to a speech I gave a couple years ago. It’s about 10 minutes long, but the audience in the room seemed to think it was alright, so you might too. More to come concerning prayer.



  1. gmgoetz

    Hey Pastor Pete, (you may change your title some day, so I thought I would start). Anyway, I appreciate your posts, and honesty. Your struggles with prayer, with seminary, I believe means you are really serious in what you are doing. During all this, I think the old self is attempting to stop you or pull you back, but the Spirit of Jesus is not giving up on you. I believe God has great plans for you Pete, and I thank you, and hope thus may encourage you a bit. God’s Blessings friend.

    Liked by 1 person

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