Husband. Dad to 5. Student Ministry Pastor. Follower of Jesus. Yatta yatta.


Only once in my life has anyone ever confronted me on my prayer life.

No, not like if I pray or when do I pray, but actually on how I pray. It came from Ron Ritchie, a trusted 70 year old mentor. I was 32ish when he looked me in the eye over lunch and in a way only a man who looks like Moses/Grizzly Adams could have said, “Brian, you use God’s name like a comma when you pray. God I pray that (comma God) you would help me do blah blah blah (comma God)…. ” I think it was the first time in my life I’d actually truly thought about how I spoke to God and what words I chose.

He also introduced me for the first time to the PRAYER TOAST. We did it every night after bible study with Ron and our clan of disciples over dinner for a year of Tuesday’s. I use it all the time in restaurants now. Rather than bowing your head and wondering if you’re going to get the prayer done before the waiter returns to interrupt you awkwardly, you just ditch the head bowed deal, grab your beverage, raise it to the sky, and thank Jesus for the fellowship, the food you’re about to eat, the amazing chance to enjoy breath in your lungs, and invite God’s presence to be at the table with you. It’s really refreshing. You should try it sometime. Inviting God to join your table and thanking him for the blessings of food and friends is always sincere and very rare today.

Well anyway, ever since that year of prayer challenges by Ron, I’ve been particularly sensitive to my own prayers and annoyed by some of the traditional habits of the church today in prayer. A couple of things that have happened this week made me think of it, so I decided to blog them. Here you go, here’s my list:

  • THE ANNOUNCEMENT PRAYER: This is not really a prayer at all. It’s not really talking to God, it’s just talking to people while they are in the hypnotic state of eyes closed and heads bowed. It often involves transition hints like, “as the band comes up” or reminders like, “we know that this week is the big blah blah blah”.
  • THE HOUDINI PRAYER: This may or may not be sincere prayer, but it is strategically placed so that we magically whip people on and off stage while your eyes are closed. While you’re supposedly talking to God, the band can magically disappear and the speaker appear or visa versa- as if the angel of the Lord himself whisked them off the stage like Houdini.
  • THE NO ONE’S LOOKING PRAYER: This is the prayer where we begin by talking to God, then pause to talk to you, asking no one to look around, cuz evidently that screws up the sincerity of someone really talking to God. Now, while “no one’s looking, please raise your hand or look at me or whatever…” cuz now we’re pausing in prayer to talk to you all.
  • THE GOD IS A COMMA/MUST LOVE TO HEAR HIS OWN NAME PRAYER: This prayer is one I was very good at and have tried to ditch. It’s the prayer that uses God more times in one sentence than is humanly possible. It is common, but evidently only something we do in prayer. Can you imagine saying to me at dinner, “Dear Brian, thanks so much Brian for having us over for dinner Brian. I just love you Brian. Brian you have blessed us so much Brian that we wanted to tell you Brian that we are here to serve you Brian with our whole lives Brian. Amen Brian. Amen.” Yeah, it sounds stupid, but if you insert God in there for me, well, you have the classic comma/name prayer.
  • THE END THE MEETING PRAYER: This prayer is just a prayer we do cuz the meeting is over and evidently, no two Christians are allowed to talk and then leave without praying to sorta close the book on this deal. Most of the world just says, see you later. Christians feel the need to make sure God knows we’re done talking now.
  • THE IN CASE GOD WASN’T LISTENING PRAYER: This is where we go around the room and have everyone share prayer requests. Then, after we have talked to one another for a while about them, we then repeat exactly what we’ve all been talking about but now, we do it with sentences that begin with “Dear God” and end with “Amen” since evidently when we were saying them before, we were talking to ourselves and God was busy somewhere else.
  • THE GOSSIP PRAYER: This is a classic one. This often never makes it to prayer. But under the umbrella of protection of a prayer request, we gossip about others so that the person who is receiving the juicy facts can take them back and pray about them.
  • THE SUPER SPIRITUAL PRAYER: This one is where the person praying uses words that only God can understand and that are only used when praying. It’s often with hands held up, sounds really super theological, and usually gets them asked to pray a lot, cuz it sounds like something God himself might say in 1850.
  • THE IT’S TIME TO SHUT UP PRAYER: This prayer is not really prayer. It’s just a reality that the one at the mic is being ignored, so instead of waiting for the crowd to get quiet, they just start praying and inevitably, a shhh and side slap hitting fest goes across the audience that tells people to shut up, somebody up front is pretending to pray so you all will stop talking.

ok… I could go on… but it’s getting depressing since I’ve been guilty of almost all of these a time or two.

I think I’m going to stop blogging and go pray. I surely need it.

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