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Marcus Verbrugge /Wednesday, September 21, 2022

 

Getting dressed one morning, I reached into my bathroom drawer for my comb, but it wasn’t there. I looked all through the bathroom drawer I keep it in, but it was gone.

I looked in the mirror. I don’t have very long hair. Even so, it really needed combing. So, I rooted around again in the drawer one more time. Still no comb. At that point I began looking for anything that might substitute for a comb. Unfortunately, nothing there was going to satisfy the requirement. After all, one can hardly use a toothbrush or a razor or a pen or a spare lightbulb as a comb, right?

As I thought about that, I remembered something my friend Daniel Henderson once wrote. He said,

When one tries to use a hammer to baste a turkey or a light bulb to brush our hair, the result is frustration and failure."1

No kidding. But Daniel wasn’t writing about combs. Daniel was writing about prayer.

Prayer has a purpose, and nothing really substitutes for it.

Different Ways to Pray

There are seasons in the life of every disciple when prayer seems to get forgotten.

Packed away or left behind.

In the busyness of life, one thinks to use Bible reading or study as a substitute, or perhaps listening to worship music on the way to work. Or more regular church attendance. Those are all good and helpful and necessary spiritual practices too, but they can’t take the place of prayer any more than a light bulb or a pen can take the place of a comb. One wonders if sometimes the Lord doesn’t look out and see most of us spiritually disheveled and unkept!

Being aware that I was exactly that just then, the thought occurred to me that I could use my wife’s hairbrush if I could find it in her drawer. Mind you, it wasn’t what I really wanted in the moment - the comb I use is for straight, short hair. I use it with little to no pressure, back to front. My wife, who still has thick, long hair, would find my comb basically useless. She uses a sturdy hairbrush and some significant pull, mostly downward. Both utensils, both strokes and both directions accomplish the same thing (untangling hair), but each fits the circumstance of the particular user.

Prayer is like that too. Prayer is communication with God. And just as we each have our own hair and our own personalities and our own needs, so there are different ways to pray. Different ways that fit each person best and result in different styles. Each of those varied ways have a different nuance to the main purpose, but they are all communication with God.

Prayer Requests

When I was a young Christian, I was taught that to pray one first wrote a list, and then one brought the list to God in prayer.

A friend of mine uses index cards like that - every time someone asks them to pray, they write out a new index card and add it to the stack. Each morning they take out ten or twelve of them, pray about those needs and then put them at the back of their stack. Only when they hear of an answer to the prayer do they take an index card out of the stack permanently, and not before thanking God for that answer.

It’s an effective way of remembering what to pray for, and a good means of bringing assorted requests to God.

Confession, Praise & Soaking

That’s great. Yet prayer is more than just bringing our needs and wants to the Lord.

It is also about confession of sin – our known sin and our presumptuous sin, and also the sins of our household, our family, our church and our community - for we are part of each and therefore own part of the repentance of each.

It is also about praising Him - extolling His goodness, grace, long-suffering, mercy and patience to us all.

It is also about just having a fluid and informal conversation with Him about the small issues of life, about just soaking in His presence, about centering ourselves in His grace, about interceding for others with groans that words cannot express, and there is so much, much more!

All of it is communication with God. And all of it has a place in our prayer lives - a place that other spiritual disciplines simply cannot take.

Exhilarating instead of Exhausting

Weaving all those forms of prayer together, we find our prayer lives becoming richer, fuller and more meaningful than we ever dreamt it could be.

We learn to find prayer exhilarating instead of exhausting, a treasure rather than a chore.

Best of all, when we practice various kinds of prayer and learn to practice them better, we become more effective at blessing others. Actually, more than merely blessing others - we become more effective at growing the Kingdom of God all around us. For this is truth; prayer is the means by which the eternal reality of God’s Kingdom is brought into our present reality here on earth.

It is no cliché to say that prayer is the real work of God’s people. For the One we pray to really is, and He really answers prayer - most especially when we ask Him for what He wants instead of just what we want. That is what Jesus meant when He said,

“Whatever you ask in my name, this I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son.  If you ask me anything in my name, I will do it.” 2 

Consequently, as we learn to ask Him for more of Himself and His Kingdom, we find His Kingdom growing both in us and around us.

Then our prayer lives are no longer a mundane chore to us, like combing our hair. They become the wonderful and beautiful experience of being with the One who loves us best. They become the essence of the Christ-life, the joy of each new day. 

I don’t know what your prayer life is like. But this much I do know; God is waiting to speak to you. And it doesn’t matter what your hair looks like!


Want to grow more in prayer? Here’s an option to journey with others in exploring the richness and deepness of prayer: Transform Prayer Course


Rev. Marcus Verbrugge and his wife reside in Ontario. Prior to working in full time ministry, Marcus was in the business community where he led a number of business startups. Past service included NFP board work, short-term mission leadership, founding a prayerwalking ministry, KingdomLink (a mission mobilization ministry) and the Transform! Prayer Course (a prayer mobilization tool). Marcus is also the author of, “Beginning – Growing in Prayer through Genesis” and a Kairos head facilitator.

 

 

1 Henderson, D., & Cymbala, J. (2011). Transforming prayer: how everything changes when you seek God’s face. Grand Rapids, MI: Bethany House.

2 The Holy Bible: English Standard Version (Jn 14:13–14). (2016). Crossway Bibles.



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