How Important is Prayer to You?

Many people pray regularly.    TalkingBack.jpg

Some pray rarely.

What about you?

I am reading Lynn Anderson’s new book, Talking Back to God (Speaking Your Heart to God Through the Psalms.) This is a wonderful book. I think this book can be very useful to people who pray regularly as well as those who pray rarely. The book speaks to ordinary people just like us. You may be single, married or divorced. You may be female or male. You may live in the United States or you may live in another nation.

One thing is true: God wants to hear your prayer.

In this book, Lynn Anderson is suggesting that reading from the Psalms in the Bible and then praying these words back to God can enrich a person’s prayer life. Listen to these words from Lynn:

“Once we learn to pay attention to our hunger for God, we can then acknowledge our pangs and cry out for all the answers you want in prayer and crying out for the loving presence of the living God. The former is crying out to be filled with all that we think we need: money relationships, prestige, and power. The latter is crying out to God to fill us with himself.

Are these challenges–these roadblocks to pursuing God–inevitable in our life of prayer? Maybe not. Part of the problem could be in flawed approaches to God and distorted expectations from prayer. We may be attempting quick fixes that cannot keep us out of the ditches. Do we always expect some kind of sensational experiences with God, or do we quietly pay attention to his presence?

The Psalms lead us to talk and to listen, to look and hear and feel God’s presence, his voice. The Psalms magnify the reality of God’s presence by exploring openly who god really is and what he is doing in the world. The paradox of poetry in Psalms is a cadence we need in our lives.

Evil is all around us.

God is here.

Life is falling apart.

God is here.

In this fast pace of life, we tend to ignore God as well as the significance of the this cadence of the Psalms that reminds us that the happiness we seek in so many ways is found only in God and God alone.” (pp. 21-22)


How important has prayer been to you? Have you gone through dry times where it was difficult for you to pray? What was helpful?

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9 thoughts on “How Important is Prayer to You?

  1. Thanks for sharing such an excellent quote I wouldn’t have found otherwise! A renewal of the importance of prayer has been one the characteristics of my last 12 months…

    I think for me a transformation has been seeing how needful we are of God himself instead of just his hand in situations such as our time in the slums in South Africa which makes it easy to just seek his hand. After seeing what we consider ‘his hand’ of providence in peoples lives we recognized that unless our friends beheld God himself much of the other issues would continue perpetuating themselves. Of course both are vital, but one without the other can be very damaging to the re-telling of the gospel through our lives. Thanks again for this great quote!

  2. Liam,
    Thank you very much for your kinds words.

    I relate very well to your comment. It is very easy to see our need (or anyone else’s) for the powerful hand of God and all of his provisions and neglect our need for his own presence.

    I really like what you say regarding the need of people God himself or some of the issues in life continue to perpetuate themselves. And this is a great sentence, Liam — “Of course both are vital, but one without the other can be very damaging to the re-telling of the gospel through our lives.”

    Hope you are doing well. Would love to hear more about your last 12 months and the difference your time in South Africa has made in your life.

  3. Prayer is life–it is breathing. I have found myself vacillating between formal, structured prayer time and just talking to God throughout the day. In times of great turmoil I find myself spending very intense moments talking with God when I’m out walking or mowing or some other activity. There are seasons when I kneel on a kneeler by my bed and pray in a structured way, maybe Psalms 130 & 131 (Lynn likes the triumvirate of Psalms 129-131 if I recall). I will journal and then end with the Lord’s Prayer. But most recently I’ve found myself sitting on my side porch at 6:00 a.m. listening to the birds and just listening. I reflect (prayerfully, I think) on how God has created, not a cacophony of sounds, but a symphony of disparate sounds that together blend in an incredible way.

    Prayer has always been important for me, but it has taken a variety of forms throughout my life and throughout my days. I agree with Lynn’s (and Eugene Peterson’s) assertion that the Psalms teach us how to pray and that we would do well to pray those back to God. So the Psalms, I believe, should always be included in our prayer tool box.

    I am also reminded how the Hebrews believed the spelled out name of God was the sound of breathing: “yod-hey-vav-hey” (in-out-in-out). I wonder if prayer is much like that–at least some forms of prayer. (Ah, didn’t mean to go on! Blessings, Jim! Always enjoy your musings!)

    • Oh, and to answer your question: Have I gone through dry times and what did I do? Yes–more often than I care to admit. But I have found the dry times are not the times of pain and frustration, but the times when all seems fine. Typical, isn’t it? We neglect to call on our father until we “need” his help!

      I suppose what helps in dry times is the structured, regular time of prayer. The dogged persistence that at this particular time I will be kneeling and praying–it may be just reading a psalm out loud, being silent “before God”,or even “going through motions” (that isn’t all bad, is it? Sometimes I go through the motions of eating and drinking, but I receive nourishment, all the same). I have found writing my prayers out as if they were letters to God in a journal particularly helpful in periods of dryness, too.

    • Darryl, thank you so much for allow us all to overhear your own experience with prayer. Interesting and helpful just to see how you come at this very powerful discipline.

      I share your experience with structured, regular times of prayer during dry times. I have also found using prayer books such as Phyllis Tickle’s The Divine Hours to be very helpful.

      Thanks so much Darryl. Your comment is very helpful.

    • Thanks Steve. Great to hear from you.

      You may know this already — Lynn made three presentations at the Pepperdine Lectures based on this book. This was the first time that he had taught a class or preached in a number of months. He did very well through all of this.

  4. Jim, five years ago, after thirty years of avoiding God and church, I was going through a huge upheaval in my life. With my own sins finally coming due and ruining my marriage and my life, I sought help in Christ. At first, I maintained my habitual skepticism, but I kept praying and kept seeking healing from addiction and depression. Finally, i resolved to read the Bible, but I wasn’t sure where to start. And then I found the best advice I have ever received: If you want to learn how to pray, read the Psalms. And so I started there and read from 1 to 150 over the course of a couple of months, rising a little early each day so the poetry would be fresh in my mind as I approached the day. Then, I read them again.

    Since then, I have grown so much in faith and in desire for God that I am now a leader at our little church. Who’d have thought that would ever happen!?! And every Sunday morning I lead a small Bible study for our worship team. What do we study? The Psalms, of course.

    I wholly agree with Lynn Anderson’s note that the cadence of our lives is that no matter what we face, God is here. Amen to that!

    Thanks for your post about Anderson’s book. I’ll add it to my wish list. 🙂

    • Glenn, your story is so, so encouraging! I appreciate you sharing this in the comment. It is so encouraging to me to hear how God has worked in your life and in particular how he worked in your life through the Psalms. Thanks, Glenn. I hope you will comment again.