I believe in prayer, even when I have doubts about just about everything else.
But, I don't really value public displays of prayer. Even less, formal prayers or expected prayers.
Not long ago a young guest to my office asked me if we prayed at CitySquare.
Easy to answer that one: yes.
All of the time.
Moment by moment lots of the time.
But, when in the midst of my deepest prayers, no one would notice, nor do I think they should. Usually this is because no one else could observe me, and not because I'm typically hidden away somewhere (though sometimes that is true), but because most of my prayer life takes place as I move about my day.
My prayers are very simple.
The most common theme is mercy, as in "Have mercy on me, O Lord!"
I've long ago abandoned lists. No reason to go into that here or now.
I think my young friend asked about our prayer lives because he wanted to pray with me. That would have been fine. I understand his motives, all pure.
But I guess I was tired as we talked, so I launched off on a homily about how we need less prayer time and more action time. Or better, simpler prayers and more commitment to mission so that it becomes our highest expression of communication with the divine.
Jesus didn't say much about prayer, especially public prayer.
I've always been drawn to his advice in the Sermon on the Mount. His direction to not pray in public to be seen, but rather, to retreat to the closet to converse in private with God brings clarity to the subject for me.
I like that.
I need mercy.
My city needs mercy.
My nation needs mercy.
My world needs mercy.
So, I've decided to pray that simple prayer throughout the day wherever I happen to be. Feel free to interrupt me. Falling in and out of prayer is not that hard, especially if formality and visibility are no longer real concerns.