So Moses said to the Lord, “Why have you treated your servant so badly? Why have I not found favor in your sight, that you lay the burden of all this people on me? Did I conceive all this people? Did I give birth to them, that you should say to me, ‘Carry them in your bosom, as a nurse carries a sucking child, to the land that you promised on oath to their ancestors’? Numbers 11:11-12
“God receives us just as we are and accepts our prayers just as they are. In the same way that a small child cannot draw a bad picture, so a child of God cannot offer a bad prayer. So we are brought to the the most basic, the most primary form of prayer: Simple Prayer. Let me describe it for you.
In Simple Prayer we bring ourselves before God just as we are, warts and all. Like children before a loving father, we open our hearts and make our requests. We do not try to sort things out, the good from the bad. We simply and unpretentiously share our concerns and make our petitions. We tell God, for example, how frustrated we are with the co-worker at the office or the neighbor down the street. We ask for food, favorable weather, and good health.
In a very real sense we are the focus of Simple Prayer. Our needs, our wants, our concerns dominate our prayer experience. Our prayers are shot through with plenty of pride, conceit, vanity, pretentiousness, haughtiness, and general all-around egocentricity. No doubt there are also magnanimity, generosity, unselfishness, and universal goodwill.
We make mistakes — lost of them; we sin; we fall down, often — but each time we get up and begin again. We pray again. We seek to follow God again. And again our insolence and self-indulgence defeat us. Never mind. We confess and begin again … and again … and again. In fact sometimes Simple Prayer is called the “Prayer of Beginning Again.”
Simple Prayer is the most common form of prayer in the Bible. There is little that is lofty or magnanimous about the faith heroes who journey across the pages of Scripture. Think of Moses complaining to God about his stiff-necked and erstwhile followers…”
Richard Foster in Prayer: Finding the Heart’s True Home (New York: HarperCollins, 1992) 14-16.
Today begins the second week of Lent, so I have chosen to shift from fasting to prayer. I am teaching on the Council of Moses in Numbers 11 this next Monday in Johannesburg, South Africa, so this piece on Simple Prayer which features the prayer of Moses as one of many examples seemed fitting.
We serve a generous God who received Moses just as He was and who “receives us just as we are and accepts our prayers just as they are.” Whether or not you have any disciplines related to prayer, start praying this Lent. And perhaps begin with what Foster and others describe as “Simple Prayer” or the “Prayer of Beginning Again”.
Pick a time every day to pray, such as in the shower or on your morning walk. Share with God whatever comes to mind. Take solace in the fact that people of great faith like Moses prayed everything from ordinary to frustrated prayers. God heard them and hears you. Take whatever ails and overwhelms you to God this Lent. Lent is a time of beginning again.
If you want to become generous from the inside out, then talk daily (and even many times each day) with our generous God in prayer and see what happens.Read more