Day 1: Pray As You Can - Praying Like Monks, Living Like Fools

Day 1: Pray as You Can

“Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:5–7

There are plenty of biblical passages on prayer, so there is no shortage of places to start grappling with this sacred mystery. However, it probably never gets more concise and straightforward than Paul’s instructions to the church at Philippi: Do not be anxious about anything. Pray about everything.

To our modern ears, today’s verses read like they were written by someone who’s never really been anxious, someone who’s never been through what we’ve been through. Anxiety is the soundtrack humming beneath our lives. Yet Paul says the fix for our anxious reality is obvious: God promises peace—a supernatural sort of peace we can’t even logically reason out—in place of crippling anxiety. And the means of this exchange is prayer.

That seems like a promise too good to be true.
Perhaps that’s why most people never try it out…

Are you willing to? Will you see for yourself if the “anxiety for peace” exchange that God promises through prayer happens in your heart? Will you trust Paul’s declaration that “The Lord is near”?

If so, let me offer you a starting place with a phrase borrowed from Dom John Chapman: “Pray as you can, and don’t try to pray as you can’t.”

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.

And 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 somewhere along the way, you will make the most important discovery of your life—the love the Father has for you. That discovery is God’s end of the deal. Your part is just to show up honestly. Show up and keep showing up. That’s the one nonnegotiable when it comes to prayer.

Pray as you can.

That’s an invitation for everybody—the rookies, the jaded, the faithful, and everyone in between.

To Practice: Start now. Pray to God, who promises to listen, exchanging anxiety for peace. Pray your requests, fears, worries, doubts, or disappointments; whatever you have to bring today, bring it to God in prayer.

From the Book: