Prayer is a slow cooker. Because it is a relationship. The preliminary to effective, relational prayer is the decluttering of the heart. This is true of all relationships.
I come home after a day of work and my mind is filled of many things that I cannot yet let go of. I sit in the same room with Linda, looking at her as she shares with me, and I am not there. I am not with her. Physically, of course, I am with her. But at once my mind is replaying the discussion I just had with this person, and the situation regarding the difficult decision that must be made, and who-know-what-else. All such things, at the time, burden me. The result of a burdened heart is inattentiveness. The same is true of God. This is but one reason "McPrayer" is ineffective, because such "drive-thru prayers" do not allow for the requisite de-burdening.
Joyce Huggett writes: "When we enter our prayer place, we need to give ourselves time to relax in God's presence. One of the best ways of doing this is to recognize some of the reasons why we are tense: worry, pressure of things to be done, the quarrel we just had with our spouse or a colleague. It will be impossible to contemplate until these pressures have been handed over to God. When we transfer them to him, we find ourselves gloriously free with an uncluttered expanse of time in which to be met afresh by him. perhaps that is one reason why Peter invites us to "Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you." (1 Peter 5:7) (In Richard Foster, Spiritual Classics, 13)
Anxiety-casting takes time. I have found, especially over the past 30 years, that as I have spent innumerable long times of prayer that God de-burdens me. It sometimes takes an hour or more to recognize the anxieties in my heart. Without consistent de-burdening these anxieties accrue and collect interest, and have a toxic effect on the soul.
- Slow-cook in God's presence
- Let all anxieties be stripped away
- Enter into the freedom of relationship with God, with all its take-and-give