Of all the questions that I have been asked by call committees, the one that has frustrated me the most is "Tell us about your personal life of prayer." My problem is that the moment I talk about my "personal" prayer life in the context of a call interview, it is no longer "personal". It becomes a basis for judging my qualifications for being a pastor.
Much of my prayer life is routine. We have always been in the practice of saying grace before meals. "Come, Lord Jesus, be our guest and let these gifts to us be blest. Amen" A variation that we prayed when we were first married, because it was Karla's families prayer is "Come, Lord Jesus, be our guest, and let us and all that Thou has given us be blest. Amen"
I pray for my children. Simple prayers, mostly. Keep them safe. Help them through difficult times. I pray that they might find that special someone to spend their life with. With regards to that last one, I have also prayed for their yet unknown partner. I can't remember who it was, but I do remember someone telling me that since their children were born, they prayed not only for their child, but also for the one, still unknown, that would become their son/daughter in law. And so I do.
As a pastor, prayer is as much proclamation as it is intercession. The "words" matter. In my personal prayer life, they don't so much. I don't like to have to think to pray. Part of my practice of prayer is to pray from the heart, without going through the head.
I've also prayed the hymn book. With my tuba. I play the hymns and let them be my prayer.
Tell us about your personal prayer life. Ok, this much I'll share. But there are other aspects of my personal prayer that I have shared with no one, nor do I ever imagine that I will. There are some things that are too sacred to share, and so I will not. . .
And then, at the most difficult times in my life, I simply sigh, or groan, if you will. And in that sighing the Spirit intercedes for us.
Pentecost. Speaking in tongues. But perhaps more important than the speaking, each one heard in their own language. I have come to believe that to pray in the Spirit, is often to pray without Words, directly from the heart, without going through the brain. Its not that I'm anti-intellectual. Those who know me know that logic, and reason, and being deep in thought are very much a part of who I am. Its just that in the thinking, we often go astray.
And so, a prayer without words, a melody, silence, listening, sighs. And the Spirit intercedes for us.
There is a universal language, I believe, and that is the language of the heart. A sigh never needs interpretation. Laughter needs no translation. And love transcends all. Language of the Spirit.
And through the Spirit God speaks to us, wherever we are, and opens our ears to hear.