The Grace of Prayer
I'm co-teaching a class about grace. I just finished working as a member of a team of four that planned and implemented a prayer vigil. Steve is getting ready to go on an Emmaus walk as a member of the team, so that is on my mind -- Emmaus walks are all about the grace. I've just started a new book -- Prayer by Richard Foster. I just finished a book called In the Grip of Grace by Max Lucado. I'm feeling a calling to try to emphasize prayer in our church. I'm thinking about a first person monologue I'm doing next week at church, and grace just seems to be running through it (even though it's about Delilah).
Is it any wonder, then, that prayer and grace are intermixed in my mind?
The very small amount of Foster's book that I've finished so far explores the relationship between grace and prayer. Isn't it an amazing, wonderful, grace-filled idea that the creator of the universe is eagerly waiting for us to approach him in prayer?
Foster explains that we often hesitate to engage in prayer because we are waiting to be perfect in prayer. We won't do it until we've read about prayer, until we've learned a technique to make it great, until we can approach it from a spiritual foothold.
The grace of prayer is that God doesn't want us to hesitate. Foster says that "the truth of the matter is that we all come to prayer with a tangled mass of motives." We arrive with altruistic AND selfish attitudes, with mercy AND hate, and with love AND bitterness. If we waited until we could approach God with only spiritual and grace-filled motives, we would never pray.
"This is what grace means, and not only are we saved by grace, we live by it as well. And we pray by it."God receives us just as we are, and listens to our prayers just as they are. We should bring him anything -- we should not self-edit what we pray so that it is only about "lofty" ideals or God-inspired blessings. God wants to hear it all. We doesn't want us to edit, he only wants us to pray.
The beauty of it is that it is THROUGH prayer that we can find grace. Through prayer we can work toward the perfection that we think we need to have. We can find altruism, mercy and love. We can find them in a way that we never would be able to find them alone.
That's grace. That's God.