Many times when I begin to pray “without thinking”, I fall into formula prayers that are full of cliches. I take a quick tally of things I think I’ve possibly done wrong and then things I think I’ve possibly done correct. I gather these up and bring them to a bartering table of my making in order to barter with God. I don’t think of it as bartering, but it is. If I think, say or do this, then I’ll have earned approval and God may not only hear my request but (cue the wand sound) grant it! This is as absurd as it sounds but it’s a pretty common absurdity. I also call these non-thinking prayers, insurance prayers, check-off-the-boxes prayers, did my due diligence so now God has to keep up His end of the bargain.
Except, there are no bargains with God.
There is no bartering and the insurance policy on my prayers doesn’t ever cash out.
There’s nothing I can say or do to make God do anything.
Thankfully, these non-thinking prayers are not as common to me any more.
I’ve barely uttered “dear God”, before I’m thinking “dear God! What are you doing girl?”
I then breathe deeply, remember it’s a conversation and begin again in truth and with deliberate words based on His word and Who I know Him to be and all I haven’t even begun to know of Him. As Karl Barth says; “We are always beginners with God”.
There is nothing formulaic (produced in accordance with a slavishly followed rule or style; predictable) about God and He won’t participate in our attempts to understand Him apart from Himself in the triune of the Father, Son, and Spirit. He invites us to join in on what He was doing long before we showed up and what He will keep doing long after we’re gone; creating, saving, healing, blessing, forgiving, loving, accepting, judging, restoring, redeeming... He invites us and welcomes us to the dance, perichoresis, a round dance, the dance of the Trinity.
Talking to a personal God, using personal language and not cliches, prevent us from “getting involved in highly religious but soul-destroying ways of going about living the Christian life”.
When talking to the One Who loves you more than you can fathom, don’t be careful, but always be honest. And know He never sees you as anything other than one He loves with all His heart.
Love Never Fails.