Big interview: Pete Greig on talking to God
Why do we find it so difficult to talk to God? Pete Greig, founder of the 24-7 prayer movement, has some ideas ...
God is interested in our small stuff as much as the big issues, says Pete Greig, the founder of the global 24-7 prayer movement. So, why do we sometimes find it difficult to talk to him? asks SHARON BARNARD
“Prayer is on almost every page of the Bible, but you’re lucky if you hear a sermon on it,” observes the man who, for the last 15 years, has championed the non-stop prayer movement that is now going on in more than half the nations of the world.
“I think it’s because we all have our personal struggles with prayer,” he continues, “and that includes the preachers. It may be because of our own disappointments or theology, or we may be asking why do we need to pray, or find ourselves trusting in programmes and products rather than prayer.
“There is something quite subversive about prayer. It was essential for Jesus, who taught about it, and it was essential for the early church. Prayer really is very important.”
Pete’s latest book Dirty Glory charts his personal journey with 24-7 and provides many examples of the way prayer propels us “out of our holy places” to engage with “dirty people and places” – among the broken and messed up – just like Jesus did.
He describes the growth of ‘prayer rooms’ across the world, where God is at work restoring fractured lives and relationships, restraining evil, transforming communities, reviving churches and “rewiring” culture.
All this is nothing to do with the “brand or model”, he writes. “It’s God who shows up in prayer rooms, God who mobilises prayer, and God who answers those prayers too.”
So what advice would he give those who find personal prayer a bit of an uphill struggle?
“It will be transformed if we remember that prayer is transactional: when we pray we are in conversation with the living God,” he tells me.
“We can talk to him about the big things, but sometimes we just want to ask about the little things. Do this regularly and there will be a growing intimacy with him.
“It is also helpful to develop discipline when we pray.
“My wife Sam and I have been married for 22 years. In the early days of our relationship we just wanted to be together a lot. But now we have to be more disciplined about spending time together. Without discipline delight dissipates.
“And it’s so important that we pray the way God made us. I don’t think there’s a right way as long as it’s honest – and the Bible is very honest. Half of the Psalms are lament.
“Find a way of praying that works for you and is enjoyable. I find processing the day based on the Ignatian Examen is helpful:
“Replay the day in detail, the good, bad and boring bits. Rejoice and Repent about the things you realise you need to. Receive and Resolve: receive God’s affection and resolve to do things differently next time.
“To give an example: we were on a family holiday and it seemed like an ordinary day – we had driven to the cinema. But then I remembered that I had lost my temper with another driver on the way.
“As I brought my ‘ordinary day’ to the Lord he said that it wasn’t ok to model [that behaviour] to the children and to go and apologise to them, which I did. If we don’t bring everything to the Lord, our lives will become an accumulation of those failures.
“And we also need to learn to tune in to God. Be still. Make space and reflect. Have God’s Word open.
“The Bible is God’s half of the conversation. Listen to God as you read it.”
- Dirty Glory by Pete Greig is published by Hodder & Stoughton, price £13.99
- To find out more about 24/7 visit www.24-7prayer.co.uk
Thy Kingdom Come (25 May to 4 June 2017)
Join in with millions of Christians from all traditions and denominations across the world this Pentecost to pray for people to know Jesus Christ. There was an overwhelming response to the prayer initiative in 2015 and this year it looks to be even bigger. Details at www.thykingdom.co.uk and resources at cpo.org.uk