What’s the trick?
Printers hate me.
But don’t worry, the feeling’s mutual.
It’s just that printers seem to have this unique ability to effectively produce more colourful language than colourful documents. I’ve spent a lot of time getting to know printers, and of all the printers I’ve worked with, I have yet to meet one I liked.
And this past week, Gayle Loewen and I found ourselves having a terse discussion with our printer.
We were trying to print Prayer Guides for our upcoming Week of Prayer, and the printer…disagreed with that idea. It just wouldn’t print properly. The worst is that it teased us. It printed one copy perfectly and then refused to do it again. However, Gayle and I are clever and resourceful, so we approached with a tactic aside from logic. Trickery.
You see, we realized that, with the first copy that printed correctly, we’d done a few random things previous to it printing properly. So rather than just telling the printer what we wanted it to do, we began following this seemingly random sequence of events that led to it printing correctly. And – lo and behold – when we followed that exact sequence, it did what we wanted.
I have to admit that, for a long time, I approached my prayer life that way.
It’s a stretch, I know, but bear with me.
For a long time I believed my prayer life needed to look a certain way or it wouldn’t be effective. I had to follow a relatively random sequence in prayer that I based off of whoever I admired at the time, or my prayer life wouldn’t be effective. For a while it was the Prayer of Jabez; for a while it was praying the prayers of Dietrich Bonhoeffer; and for a while it was reaching a specific level of mystical abandon. Each time, I thought if I didn’t follow that sequence, my prayers wouldn’t be effective.
That made me cautious about prayer. And honestly, when we joined PAC and experienced our first 24/7 Prayer Week, I was intimidated by it. I didn’t think I’d be able to pray for that long; I was worried that I’d get it wrong somehow.
But then I entered in and found it incredibly freeing.
Yes, we had a prayer guide and we used it to shape our time of prayer. But what struck me was the way my heart shifted in prayer. It shifted from “Needing to get this right” to “Jesus what do you have for me in this?”
It reminds me of when Jesus taught his disciples to pray in Matthew 6. After warning them of some pitfalls to avoid, he gave them a pattern to follow in prayer. And it was pretty simple.
“This, then, is how you should pray:
‘Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name,
your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread.
And forgive us our debts,
as we also have forgiven our debtors.
And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from the evil one.’”
Nothing extraordinary. Not really a specific “Do this then do that” instruction. But Jesus showed his followers how to connect with the Father in prayer. No caution in coming to the Father. No need to worry about “getting it right”. Just come to him in all these things.
I’m really excited to pray alongside all of you next week! I’m thankful that we pray together, toward the same things. And I’m looking forward to seeing the freedom we all experience as we enter into the presence of God without fear of getting it wrong.