* Prayer is more important than Bible reading.
* Prayer is clumsy and ineffective without a sufficient Biblical foundation.

One of my difficulties in prayer the last 7 years or so has been that my theology was changing.

When I was in high school and earlier, I was pretty proficient in prayer. That is to say, I found it relatively easy to pray – frequently, in private or in public, and for relatively sustained periods. But going into ministry school, college, and even seminary, it became increasingly more difficult to pray, because I had a hard time agreeing with the sort of things I was used to saying when I prayed. I would start to pray something and realize I didn’t really think that was the way it worked. To give an example, I might have prayed something highly metaphorical, along the lines of “Lord, I pray that you would pour out your Holy Spirit in my workplace, that your river would flood in and overwhelm them, so that they are consumed by your fire!” And in the middle I would get stuck by the mixed metaphor. Moreover, it would occur to me that I really hadn’t said anything more significant than “Lord, please do something about this,” which of course left me with a very short prayer. It began to occur to me that I really didn’t know what I was talking about and that I therefore really didn’t have anything to say.

As I’ve been becoming more “essentially reformed” in my perspective, my sense of not knowing what I’m talking about has been lifting. I was helped especially last year by teaching Ephesians in my New Testament class. Ephesians has just the sort of big picture perspective that I needed to get into my mind. And that perspective has helped dramatically in my prayer life, as Valerie can attest. But now I have a new problem:

I can again pray now for nearly hours on end, but despite my best efforts, I can really only pray Ephesians.