Broken Prayers

Read this thoughtful and humorous meditation on the most authentic and honest prayers one can make.

I’ve always been nervous around prayer that seems loud and impressive.(1)  Call me crazy, but I get uncomfortable when someone prays really loud before the meal at a restaurant.  I usually peek to see who is watching and wonder if God is hard of hearing?

Or when I pray with a group of people.  The guy currently praying is so articulate, elloquent, and impressive and I’m up next.  I know I should be concentrating on something else, but the whole time I’m just thinking, “How am I gonna follow that?”  I’m often intimidated rather than inspired.

I noticed Peter, in the Bible, used to pray this way.  He was notorious for making loud, impressive, declarations like:

Peter replied, “Even if all fall away on account of you, I never will.”    -Matthew 26:33

But Peter insisted emphatically, “Even if I have to die with you, I will never disown you.”   -Mark 14:31

“No,” said Peter, “you shall never wash my feet.”    -John 13:8

And then he was broken.

He did what he said he would never do.  He betrayed a friend.  He ran.  He made a disastrous mistake.

And this is when his prayers began to change.

In a beautiful display of grace, the betrayed friend makes breakfast for Peter.(2)  Later, Jesus is walking on the beach with Peter and asks him three times a very profound question, “Do you love me?”  The third time Jesus asks this, we hear the change in Peter:

He said, “Lord, you know all things; you know that I love you.”            -John 21:17

It’s hard to read these words without imagining a deep sigh behind them.  No more impressive declaration.  No more loud pronouncement.  Peter’s words are few.  It’s the words of a man that has given up trying to prove something.  He has been left humbled and horribly honest.  He finally realizes who he is talking to.

Now think for a moment about the prayers that have truly mattered.  The ones that moved past lip service, ritual, and obligation.(3)  The ones that were authentic, gut wrenchingly honest, life changing prayers and you will find they were always quiet and short.(4)

“Please help.”(5)

“I’m sorry.”

“Where are you?”

These broken prayers are what change lives.  They sneak past the artificial into the authentic.  They make way for a sinner to walk along the beach with the Savior.  These broken prayers have the ability to restore relationship.

May you dare to pray like that today.(6)

1.  This can apply to churches as well but that’s a blog for another day.  😉

2.  John 21 happens to be my favorite story in the Bible.  I like to imagine a resurrected Jesus shopping at the market for bread, and getting up early to go fishing while the whole time thinking, “I can’t wait to see my friend.”

3.  My sacrifice, O God, is a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart you, God, will not despise.  – Psalm 51:17

4.  that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. – 1 Timothy 2:2

5.  I once prayed with a group for a popular speaker.  Everyone took turns praying impressively and in a stark contrast the speaker we all were praying for simply whispered, “Please help me.  Amen.”  I asked him about his prayer later and he said something I’ll never forget.

“My prayer was short because we’ve been talking all week.”

6. For more broken prayer examples, check out the Psalms.  Few understood brokenness like King David.