After a handful of recommendations (thank you Eric, Daniel, and Behzad!), I’ve finally started reading Paul Miller’s A Praying Life. I’m only a few chapters in, but I can already say that this is definitely going to be one of the best books I’ll read all year, if not the best.
Here’s a quote:
We were uncertain whether she would ever be able to walk, so when she took her first step at three years old, we didn’t say, “Kim, that was all very well and good, but you are two years late. You have a lot of catching up to do, including long-range walking, not to mention running, skipping, and jumping.” We didn’t critique how messy or late Kim was. What did we do? We screamed; we yelled; we jumped up and down. The family came rushing in to findout what had happened. Cameras came out, and Kim repeated her triumph. It was awesome.
This isn’t just a random observation about how parents respond to little children. This is the gospel, the welcoming heart of God. God also cheers when we come to him with our wobbling, unsteady prayers. Jesus does not say, “Come to me, all you who have learned how to concentrate in prayer, whose minds no longer wander, and I will give you rest.” No, Jesus opens his arms to his needy children and says, “Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28, NASB). The criteria for coming to Jesus is weariness. Come overwhelmed with life. Come with your wandering mind. Come messy.
What does it feel like to be weary? You have trouble concentrating. The problem of the day are like claws in your brain. You feel pummeled by life.
What does heavy-laden feel like? Same thing. You have so many problems you don’t know where to start. You can’t do life on your own anymore. Jesus wants you to come to him that way! Your weariness drives you to him.
Don’t try to get the prayer right; just tell God where you are and what’s on your mind. That’s what little children do. They come as they are, runny noses and all. Like the disciples, they just say what is on their minds.