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Chuck Hinman : 031 : Teach Me To Pray, Lord

It's Just Me Again by Chuck Hinman. No. 031. Teach Me to Pray, Lord
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The next earlier Chuck Hinman column: Chuck Hinman: IJMA No. 352, The planter that Chuck built

By Chuck Hinman

A well known church hymn goes "Teach me to pray, Lord, teach me to pray. Thou art the potter, I am the clay, etc." I can't remember all the words, but the lyrics leave the impression that talking to the Lord through prayer is a learned experience. And, of course it is enhanced through repetition.

My observation of Connie's sister was that with her prayer beads, she repeated prayers while holding each bead of her rosary. While that seemed to the uninformed to be a questionable practice, who am I to interfere in anyone's conversation with God.

There is support for repetition in Deuteronomy 6:6 ff.
6 And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart:

7 And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up.

8 And thou shalt bind them for a sign upon thine hand, and they shall be as frontlets between thine eyes.

9 And thou shalt write them upon the posts of thy house, and on thy gates.
God admonished the Israelites to engage in repetitious practices in their family life. It is a favorite passage of mine on how God wants us to raise a family and borders on what we know as "brain-washing." But sadly, that practice is mostly unheeded in our day and age. What a pity. God is NOT obsolete and we make a huge mistake if we write Him out of our lives. I have learned the hard way! It doesn't work, believe me!

My experience of satisfying conversation with God (prayer) has come when I read the Bible meditatively. My first remembrance of that came when many years ago, the members of our rural church (Bartlesville, OK) were asked to sign up for an all-night prayer vigil preceding a week of evangelistic services. I had signed up for an unpopular time slot of 2 - 4 AM. Sleepily I went to the designated prayer room in the church. I decided to drop to my knees, hovering over a church pew with my Bible nearby.

I started praying out loud and within five minutes had run out of the usual things I pray for most every day. I looked at my watch and it was 2:05 AM and my knees were already yelling at me and I still had one hour and 55 minutes to go! "Lord, what do you want to talk about? Nebraska football? Naw, you're not into football." I had exhausted my trite sayings of my daily prayer experience.

I decided to sit on the pew instead of punishing my knees. I picked up my Bible and started thumbing through the well-worn pages for something that might catch my attention. Connie and I had been in a home Bible study for years so that I was not unfamiliar with my way around the Bible. My paging through the Bible stopped when I came to Psalms.

I thought, "Hey - this is where I am going to let God talk to me for the next two hours."

When I got real, instead of staging my conversation with God, it was wonderful! And more importantly, it was normal. I read meditatively from Psalms for almost two hours. When I felt like talking out loud to the Lord over something I was reading, I did. When I felt emotionally involved over God's love I was reading about, I stopped and told Him my feelings. I wasn't in any hurry. Sometimes I felt like shedding a tear over something I read.

And guess what, 4 AM came sooner than I would have liked, and the next pray-er was knocking on the door. I felt like saying, "Go away -- I am visiting with an old friend!" And indeed, I was! -Chuck Hinman

This story was posted on 2011-07-31 02:09:16
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