On Donald Miller and Christ outside the church

image: Amy Corron Power

Donald Miller recently wrote in his blog, “I don’t connect with God by singing to Him.” Well Don, I don’t either.

That doesn’t mean that I don’t sing to God. But I find that the only time I do is in church on Sunday for about 20 minutes. At times I find myself being drawn closer to God by music, including Christian music, but those songs somehow never make their way into the worship center.

Plus I don’t sing well. While I knew this all along, it became glaringly obvious to me when I attended a Reformed Presbyterian church in college. At RP services no hymns are sung, and there is no musical accompaniment. The congregants sing the Psalms a-capella, often breaking into multiple lush harmonies as the verses change. I just stood and listened. It was beautiful, but I was a spectator, not a participant.

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When Prayer is Trivial

While driving out to my first visit today I ran through the presets on my radio as I usually do. Not finding anything of interest music-wise I jumped to the Christian talk station to see what was on there. The speaker (don’t remember who, but he’s well known and I think nationwide) was talking about the need for us to pray in order to maintain our connection to God. He laid out several other benefits as well, but then made a bit of a quizzical move. God apparently wants us to pray, but God doesn’t want to be bothered with “trivial prayers”.

Prayers for mundane things – he used the example of picking out his clothes – are trivial in that they aren’t about important matters, or about things we can take care of ourselves. He got a laugh about his comment about his clothes-picking skills, but I was a bit perturbed.

I did a quick little search for “trivial prayers” on Google and got an interesting list of results: nonbelievers who said that any prayer was trivial or that prayers for personal gain were trivial, as well as people who called their own prayers trivial because they didn’t seem to be about important things. I even ran across a video of a minister teaching that God doesn’t want our “help me! help me!” prayers or petitions at all.

I brought this up to my client that I saw today, an elderly man with heart failure who prays the Rosary daily every day he can. He too was surprised and not very happy with the comment. He said, “Any prayer is important to God! Something that seems trivial to someone else can be very important to me. Say I cut my finger and I pray that it gets better. You could say ‘just put a band-aid on it, don’t bother God!’ But if that cut gets infected I could lose that finger. Prayer is all the more important to me!”

I replied, “I think the only kind of prayer that is trivial is one that isn’t said.”

And it was probably the smartest thing I said all day.