Summary: Spontaneous prayer is much more meaningful and real than planned prayer. Planned prayer is usually locked into formulas, and we repeat the same requests over and over. This kind of prayer gets dull, and it is seen as a duty rather than a joy.
George Buttrick in his large book simply called Prayer tells of why
the Acoma Indians in Colorado chose to live on the mesa. The rock
gave them safety. The Apaches on the South and the Navajos on the
North made them sitting ducks down on the plains, and so they headed
for the rocks. A narrow path up the steep rock-staircase made it
impossible for an enemy to get to them. A few men could defend
against an army, and so they felt secure on the rocks.
The rocks provided natural cisterns to store water, and soil
carried up to the rocks was kept cool, and so the flowers bloomed in
splendor. They had security and beauty. They could watch the
drifting clouds above ever changing, and the shifting sands of the
desert below were being blown by the wind into new eddies. Earth
and sky in ceaseless change, but they stood on the solid rock that did
Buttrick says this is the longing of all men to have a solid place on
which to stand and live. They long for permanence in a world of
change, and that is what prayer is all about. Prayer is about
connection with the Rock, and with the God who is permanent and
changeless. Prayer is about security and stability in a world where
there is so little solid ground. Prayer is our link to the Permanent. He
quotes Henry Francis Lytes famous hymn Abide With Me.
Abide with me: fast falls the eventide;
The darkness deepens; Lord, with me abide!
When other helpers fail, and comforts flee,
Help of the helpless, O abide with me.
Swift to its close ebbs out of life's little day;
Earth's joys grow dim, its glories pass away;
Change and decay in all around I see;
O Thou who changes not, abide with me!
This prayer for the permanent presence of the Rock in our lives
is based on the conviction that there is no solid ground in this world on
which to live and stand. Prayer is saying that I must reach out to a
world beyond this one or be forever trapped in the shifting sands of
time. Prayer is the conviction that there is another realm above time,
which is the realm of eternity, and it is determined to get in touch with
that higher realm which is permanent. So prayer is not just the kid's
stuff of gimme, gimme, gimme. It is the stuff of deep philosophy and
theology, for it deals with the essential issues of the meaning of life and
the purpose for our existence. Prayer is so amazingly simple, and yet
so awesomely profound that both children and scholars deal with it
everyday. It is to be a perpetual part of every believer's life.
Any day that we do not pray we disobey for Jesus expects that we
will give thanks for our daily bread as we make our other petitions.
The Lord's Prayer is quite short, and so Jesus does not imply that we
must all become mystics who spend many hours in prayer. But the
fact is, he does expect that His followers will be people that maintain
daily contact with the heavenly Father. Jesus had His quiet time, and
often we are told He got up early and went off to the hills to pray
alone. But prayer for Jesus was not limited to any time or place. He
was ready at any time to pray. For Him prayer was just including
God in His daily activities.
In Luke 10:21 Jesus, just all of the sudden, stops in the context of
a busy day to acknowledge God. It says, "At that time Jesus, full of
joy through the Holy Spirit, said, I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven
and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and the
learned, and revealed them to little children. Yes, Father, for this was
your good pleasure." We think of prayer so often as being limited to
some formal setting, and we miss the joy of Jesus in just spontaneously
saying, "Thank you Lord," when we feel something positive about life.
Spontaneous prayer is much more meaningful and real than
planned prayer. Planned prayer is usually locked into formulas, and
we repeat the same requests over and over. This kind of prayer gets
dull, and it is seen as a duty rather than a joy. If you want to improve
your prayer life, do not assume you have to add more to your formal
times of prayer. Instead, add the spontaneous prayer that we see in
the life of Jesus. He had His formal times, and He said grace before
He ate, but the informal times are what most of us need to develop to
add new life to our prayer life. This kind of prayer is developed by