Earlier this year, I joined a mentoring program with my church here in San Diego, and for six months (mostly prior to my wedding) I met weekly with my mentor, Betsy. She an inspiring, godly woman who has been married to her beloved husband for 41 years. What wisdom and perspective she had to offer me! As a special focus for our time together, we decided to explore and grow in the discipline of prayer.
I know, I know—discipline is a terrible word. I hate the idea of discipline, mostly because I've lived so much of my life with too disciplined of an attitude, so I shy away from it. But to say that following Jesus doesn't require discipline would be a lie. What's important to understand is that Christian discipline is different from the convoluted way we define it, falling nicely in between the lines of legalism and abuse of grace.
To start off our first month or so together, we read the first few chapters of Prayer by Richard J. Foster. By the time I got to the second chapter, my prayer life was already drastically changing for the better. I realized that I constantly felt bogged down by the duty of prayer requests and felt guilty when I prayed for myself. After all, when prayer consists of nothing but checking off prayer requests, exhaustion replaces the joy of the exercise.
According to Foster, simple prayer is not selfish, but necessary:
Simple Prayer is beginning prayer. It is the prayer of children, and yet we will return to it again and again...We never outgrow this kind of prayer, because we never outgrow the needs which give rise to it.When I read this, I immediately thought of child's pose. Any of you yogis out there know what I'm talking about—the classic, most simple pose in yoga which is essentially a fetal position (see photo above). It is the pose you return to during your yoga routine that gives you rest, peace, and relaxation. It is your comfort. It is your home on your little mat. It is the position you go to when your body needs to be refreshed.
Simple prayer is kind of like that. It's like taking a break from the stress of your day and lying in the fetal position, doing nothing and instead being with the Lord. You may speak words, you may simply breathe in God's presence. What matters is that you are there with him, your heart desiring his presence.
Do you practice simple prayer? Or has prayer become more of a duty in your life?