An excerpt from Paul Miller’s A Praying Life allows for challenge in some of the things that we allow to take away from our time with God. What struggles do we face in the context we live? Miller does a good job of revealing our mindset and the influence of the surrounding American in this section of his text:
American culture is probably the hardest place in the world to learn to pray. We are so bust that when we slow down to pray, we find it uncomfortable. We prize accomplishments, production. But prayer is nothing but talking to God. It feels useless, as if we are wasting time. Every bone in our bodies screams, “Get to work.”
When we aren’t working, we are used to being entertained. Television, the Internet, video games, and cell phones make free time as busy as work. When we do slow down, we slip into a stupor. Exhausted by the pace of live, we veg out in front of a screen or with earplugs.
If we try to be quiet, we are assaulted by what C.S. Lewis called “the Kingdom of Noise.” Everywhere we go we hear background noise. IF the noise isn’t provided for us, we can bring our own via iPod.
Even our church services can have that same restless energy. There is little space to be still before God. We want our money’s worth, so something should always be happening. We are uncomfortable with silence.
One of the subtlest hindrances to prayer is probably the most pervasive. In the border culture and in our churches, we prize intellect, competency, and wealth. Because we can do live without God, praying seems nice but unnecessary. Money can do what prayer does, and it is quicker and less time consuming. Our trust in ourselves and in our talents makes us structurally independent of God. As a result, exhortations to pray don’t stick.
Paul Miller. A Praying Life. NavPress. Colorado Springs, CO. 2009: 15-16.