It’s a special thing to me when someone buys me an item of any sort because they know i will enjoy and appreciate it. I love the idea of being known well enough to be thought of in those types of moments. So, yesterday when an older gentleman at our church picked up a book off of our book table and asked kindly, “May i purchase you a copy of A Praying Life by. Paul E. Miller: Connecting with God in a Distracting World? “ I just could not refuse.
Even though i had bought myself a copy a month before this thoughtful gesture. And especially because i had spilled a glass of water on it two weeks earlier, and was growing tired of all the lumpy, crinkly pages.
This is an incredible book for anyone to read. It’s very reader friendly, personal, filled with great narrative, and will encourage you to begin simply and honestly talking to God. It strips away any pretense you have about someone who is committed to communing with God on a daily basis, because Paul Miller is very clear that he is not bound to this endeavor due to obligation and guilt, but by a deep, deep personal need.
It’s his story of learning that prayer is less of an isolated act and more of an integration into all facets of his daily life. He writes, “I didn’t learn continuous prayer; I discovered I was already doing it. I found myself in difficult situations I could not control. All I could do was cry out to my heavenly Father. It happened often enough that it became a habit, creating a rut between my soul and God.”
It’s interesting when you begin reading or studying about something how it tends to pop up in places. Last week, when my youngest and i were together, she asked out of the blue, “Mommy, does God get mad at you when you fall asleep while praying or if you are really distracted.” Having this book in my mind, we had a great talk about God and his acceptance of us in our weakness.
Here are a few of my favorite quotes:
“Learning to pray doesn’t offer you a less busy life; it offers you a less busy heart.”
“Don’t be embarrassed by how needy your heart is and how much it needs to cry out for grace. Just start praying.”
“It didn’t take me long to realize that i did my best parenting by prayer. I began to speak less to the kids and more to God.”
“Anxiety is unable to relax in the face of chaos; continuous prayer clings to the Father in the face of chaos.”
and my fav:) “You don’t need self-discipline to pray continuously; you just need to be poor in spirit.”
This book is more of an invitation and less of a command or reprimand. It encourages you to be real, and to rest in that realness, because that is where you will truly see God. I’ll end with Paul Miller’s words and the one’s i shared with my own daughter when she asked me such a great, faith forming question about the Father’s true heart.
He says, “The only way to come to God is by taking off any spiritual mask. The real you has to meet the real God. He is a person. The criteria for coming to Jesus is weariness. Come overwhelmed with life. Come with your wandering mind. Come messy. Instead of being frozen by your self-preoccupation, talk with God about your worries. Often we are so busy and overwhelmed that when we slow down to pray, we don’t know where our hearts are. We don’t know what troubles us. So, oddly enough, we might have to worry before we pray. Then our prayers will make sense. They will be about our real lives.”