The other day I was listening to a radio preacher in the morning on my way to work, and he made a statement that lodged itself directly into my brain: (the following quote is not exact, but a paraphrase) "Prayer is a skill you need to develop over your whole lifetime." I cannot help but think this statement and its underlying thought patterns do nothing better than trivialize the spiritual exercise of prayer, and more importantly, the reverence due to God and His very sovereignty.
The problem with this type of thinking is simply this: it is no more developed, no more sophisticated, no more mature than the equivalent thinking of a small child honing her skills of manipulation and questioning to get something she desires from mommy or daddy. Prayer is no more a skill to be developed, than God is a cosmic vending machine in the sky on which to operate with that same skill until one receives all that one desires, without respect to the divine will or His omniscient wisdom. Well, perhaps the TV preacher didn't carry the idea that far, but that's the logical conclusion of it based on what I remember. I remember also being completely disgusted with those particular parts of the message.
Has anyone bothered to ask themselves whether God, who is infinite and omniscient and omnipotent, particularly desires to be treated like some cosmic slot machine in the heavenly faith casino of man-centeredness and self-will?
(The title links to some Puritan prayers I found in a recent Internet search. My hope is you will find them interesting and helpful.)