thinking about prayer while waiting for a post.

I never know how long to pray about things.  I’m often not sure exactly how to pray.

The other day, Hope and Nancy and I were talking about this question, about what to pray for in a particular health situation. Hope and some of her friends had been discussing it at great length.

I laughed. “Imagine you and Andrew having a conversation about how to ask me for something. You spend a long time talking about how much to ask for, about what the best approach might be. Why wouldn’t you just ask me? And in our conversation we can talk about the best way to ask.”

Discussions of the right way to pray only make sense if God can’t hear us talking. They only make sense if somehow, we can trick God into doing something for us if we can ask in exactly the right way. They only make sense if there is a penalty for asking the wrong way, for asking too much.

When Hope and Andrew and Allie ask me for something, they don’t have to be afraid of saying the wrong thing. They may not get what they want, but they have my attention, and my interest, and my heart.  Andrew, for example, just asked for feedback on something he had written. I gave him suggestions on how to change it. It involved more work on his part. But that’s part of the conversation.

I understand disappointment. I’ve asked for healing when the result was death. I’ve asked for restoration when the result was disintegration. And I’ve watched others ask for rescue when the result was destruction. I don’t think that the problem was in the approach, in asking for the wrong thing or asking the wrong way. But I’ll keep asking and listening, until I know.

8 thoughts on “thinking about prayer while waiting for a post.

  1. Rich Dixon

    What a great image…I’ll wait to pray until I get it all composed just right, because God won’t know about all the rough drafts! We really are silly creatures, aren’t we?

    Maybe if the kids just show up and start talking about what’s on their hearts, the wise dad works through it with them and helps them to a deeper understanding of what’s really best than they could achieve if they show up with a preconceived request.

    Of course that requires trust…


  2. Scott Brune

    Again Jon you hit the nail squarely on the head…we might be overthinking prayer procedures and processes when all God wants is conversation. Procedures and processes usually lack intimacy, which conversation allows for and encourages. So again I am faced with how can I converse with the God creator of all things? Seems like I should be careful and follow the correct procedures and processes or else. Mind blowing, but heart warming!


    1. Jon Swanson

      ah, scott. it’s the “or else” that makes me ask, “or else what?” I mean, I’m not an “or else” kind of person with just about anyone. But especially with Hope and Andrew. But why am I convinced that God is less gracious than I am?


  3. Joseph Ruiz (@SMSJOE)

    Talk about face in palm!! I am embarrassed by my relentless pursuit of a formula or prescription when the real focus is obviously the relationship. Obvious to all but me? 😉 Thanks for the visual and the reminder. So easy to overcomplicate.


  4. naswanson

    Last night my brother asked me to pray a blessing over a dinner with 30 farmers I’d never met. First, I was surprised that he even considered praying, and second, I wasn’t really sure what to say in my prayer. So, I went to God and asked Him. I’m pretty sure the words I said were exactly what He gave me….and what he wanted that group of farmers to hear. It was an honor to ask God to bless not only the food, but also those who grow it.


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