came across this article on InTouch Ministries and just fell in love. I hope you will enjoy it as much as I did:
How to Botch Your Prayer Life
… and connect with God anyway.
by Matt Woodley
For nearly a hundred years, a beautiful mural of Jesus had held pride of place in the Sanctuary of Mercy Church in northeastern Spain. But in August 2012, an 80-year-old church member named Cecilia Gimenez decided to “touch up” the painting. Ill-advisedly, Cecilia worked solo and botched her project. At first, Spanish authorities claimed that someone had vandalized the mural. When Cecilia finally came forward, The New York Times called her do-it-yourself effort one of the “worst art restoration projects of all time.” The BBC reported that the once dignified portrait of Jesus “now resembles a crayon sketch of a very hairy [and fuzzy] monkey in an ill-fitting tunic.” In the ensuing media storm, Cecilia didn’t seem to understand all the fuss. After all, she was just trying to help. At last report, the town council was trying to recruit real art experts in an attempt to repair Cecilia’s “restoration” work.
I’ve never destroyed a work of art, but I can relate to this woman in at least one way: I know what it’s like to botch my well-intentioned but solo spiritual “projects.” For example, I’d like to offer God a consistently beautiful prayer life, a spiritual work of art that’s filled with praise and petitions, passion and power, focus and intensity. But when I honestly assess my prayer life, it usually resembles a spiritual “crayon sketch.” It’s not that I don’t pray. It’s just that I often pray poorly, feebly trying to connect with God while I fight distractions, nurse grudges, fret about petty matters, slog through doubts and questions, and sometimes feel more of God’s “absence” than His presence.
After serving as a pastor for over 20 years, I’ve met some true prayer warriors, but I’ve met many more prayer botchers—people who struggle in prayer, people like me. We struggle with hurts like a friend of mine who told me, “I try to pray about my wayward son, but it feels like picking up a fallen and live electrical cable; I just can’t touch it.” We struggle with distractions like the poet Denise Levertov, who tried to pray and then confessed to God, “I stop to think about You, and my mind at once like a minnow darts into the shadows.” Like the desperate father crying out, “I do believe; help my unbelief” (Mark 9:24), we wrestle with doubts. Sometimes, we even stagger under their weight.
No wonder the apostle Paul offered the following terse analysis of our prayer lives: “We do not know how to pray as we should” (Rom. 8:26). In other words, when it comes to prayer, we’re all incompetent.