Pray as you can

Over the last year or so, I’ve been deeply considering the idea of living out the life that Jesus promised in Matthew 28:11 through “putting on” the practices of Jesus. A practice, or spiritual discipline as it has also been called, is simply a regular habit that Jesus modelled throughout his life. 

When observing the life of Jesus, we begin to notice these regular practices that mark the rhythm of His life. Silence and Solitude, fasting, and deep community are great examples of practices that lead to closer proximity to God, allowing for a greater living out of this “Promised Life”. But what has stood out to me recently is the question Jesus’ closest observers asked. Out of all the miracles they witnessed, the great teachings they would have heard, the love and restoration taking place, the disciples asked the question, “Teach us to pray?” (Luke 11). 

The disciples realised that out of all that Jesus’ modelled, prayer was the foundational practice in Jesus’ life, and it should be the same for us. 

The Bible offers abundant guidance on prayer, with one of the most direct coming from Paul to the Philippi church: “Do not be anxious about anything. Pray about everything.” Such words might seem distant to many today as if penned by someone unfamiliar with true anxiety. Anxiety is the soundtrack humming beneath so many of our lives. Yet Paul says the fix for our anxious reality is obvious: God promises peace in exchange for anxiety. The means of this exchange is prayer. 

So how do we go about doing this “exchange”? The answer; Pray as you can. Begin where you are, not where you think you should be.

If you can’t pray with hope and faith, God isn’t bothered. He wants you to tell him about your doubt and disappointment.

If you can’t pray in phrases of praise and adoration, don’t fake it. Pray your complaints, your anger, or your confusion.

If you’re more comfortable with cynicism than innocence, unsure about your motives, afraid of silence, afraid of an answer, or pretty confident you aren’t doing it right, you’re in the perfect starting place.

Pray as you can.

And as you go about praying as you can, and you find ourselves in closer proximity to God more frequently, our anxiety starts to dissipate and the promise of peace will start to replace it. That is God’s promise, and He will hold his side of the deal. Our responsibility in this exchange is just to show up, and to keep showing up. That’s the one nonnegotiable when it comes to prayer.

By Gareth Stark