American culture is probably the hardest place in the world to learn to pray!  Paul Miller in A Praying Life

I agree and I disagree with Paul Miller. And before I get too critical with Miller, of all the books that I have read on prayer, his book, A Praying Life, is one of my favorites.

Back to America.

I don’t beat myself up that I haven’t been persecuted or jailed for my faith. I do not get frustrated at the materialism, distraction, and naturalism in our culture that can limit prayer. I believe that I can become a great prayer warrior by living in Springfield, Ohio.

Wherever you live, you can pray great prayers.

Through the years, I have developed three “helps” for praying. This isn’t a list of specific prayers; it is a list that keeps me focused on great praying. My “helps” allow me to minimalize distraction, laugh at humanism, and realize the vacancy of everything this world offers.

One: Presence

My goal of praying is the presence of God. When I’m in the presence of God peace overwhelms anxiety.

In movies, I hear the dialogue of people describing their euphoria on drugs. I think, “Pity, they have never experienced the presence of God.” I was set free from drugs 49 years ago – a statement of God’s power – but my desire for drugs, that euphoria, was replaced by experiencing God’s presence.

More than anything, give me God’s presence.

Two: Laughter

I dislike humorless Christians. I know that God still loves them, but I just don’t enjoy their company. I admit that humorless Christians don’t enjoy being around me as well.

The seeds of my prayer life were sown by my mother. I learned to laugh from her as well. My mother was a nurse on the Queen Mary in World War II when it was a hospital ship. She traveled 10 times across the Atlantic helping to bring thousands of wounded soldiers back from battle.

My mother learned to pray and laugh on that ship.

If you stop laughing, then you stop praying. Both laughter and faith can thrive in pain.  An indicator that you are losing faith is the inability to laugh.

Three: Prayer Lists

Great praying builds incrementally through years of observation.

In the years before computers, cars had carburetors. They aerated a gas/fuel mixture that was pumped into the combustion chamber of a car. They were adjusted by screws, springs, widgets, and prayers.

Unfortunately, most mechanics cussed more than praying while adjusting a carburetor which probably explains why most mechanics could never fix them.

My father knew a great mechanic. His name was “Potter” and he died before “Harry.” He was a magician with a carburetor. His “magic” was faith. He prayed daily. When he stopped working at the garage where Dad took my teenage cars, my father said, “No one can fix a carburetor like Potter.”

I asked my father, “Why didn’t he write down what he learned?” To which my father answered, “That’s not the way mechanics work.”

That stuck with me.

I write things down, not only for myself but also for you, in Interruptions. For years, I have written my list of prayers. I keep lists of answers, often learning more from unanswered prayers than answered.

My three “helps”: Presence, Laughter, Lists!