[I'm working on finishing up drafts for the chapters to Live Prayerfully: Three Ways Ordinary Lives Become Prayerful. The general of the aim of the book is to provide guidance on historic practices of prayer in simple ways. Below is an excerpt from the conclusion of the third chapter (Praying With Your Own Words).] The day when my son told me, “If you were going somewhere by yourself, I’d want to catch up” was a day worth remembering for me. He is older now than when he said those words to me, and though he’s still very young, there are already beginning to be times when he wants some distance from me rather than being right by my side. And adolescence hasn’t even hit yet. Although I hope it never happens, there may well come a period of time when he doesn’t want much to do with me. But his own words to me that day when he was three years old came from a very sincere place in his little soul, a place that knew he was loved, that his daddy delighted in him, and that it was a good thing for the two of us to ride around in our pickup truck together. Whatever the future may hold for us as father and son, I will always know that place in his soul is real and is still there, even if one of these days he completely stops paying attention to it.
There have been times in my years of seeking to follow God when, whether in joy or pain, I have expressed my love for God in sincere and authentic ways through using my own words in prayer. I’ve come to believe that those words delighted God is much the same way that my son’s delighted me. There have also been times in my years of seeking to follow God when, like a confused or rebellious son, I didn’t want to have much to do with him. Thankfully, though, even when those times came, I was eventually able to go back to words that came from a very sincere place in my soul that has known I am loved, that God delights in me, and that it is very good for us to do things together. Looking back over the decades, I can see that it’s when I talk to God about those things in my own words that our friendship grows.