A recent Friday night found me struggling to get the DVD player to work. For some reason the tray would not come out, frustrating my expectations of a relaxing ending to the work week. After being repeatedly thwarted in my attempts to get the tray to eject the thought came into my mind to pray that God would help me to get it to work so that I could watch the movie. At the same time came the thought that such a prayer would be petty and selfish. Does God really care if I watch this movie tonight? Perhaps he is giving me a sign that I should quit and do some neglected Bible reading instead. Little trials like this are supposed to build my patience and praying would defeat the purpose, right?
Petty prayers are when we pray that we would find our car keys or find an empty parking spot. Some people pray them and others feel guilty at the smallness and self-focus of the request that they don’t. It is my experience that petty prayers can be the gateway to something larger. Such prayers take something we are dealing with and place it before our heavenly Father who enjoys it when we talk to him. They may be baby prayers, but let’s face it, most of us our babies when it comes to prayer. Even the first babbling words a baby makes fill their parents with joy.
Praying invites God into some area of our lives and petty prayers do so in the minute details. God wants to be invited into all areas of our lives. Doing so with what seem like trivial matters hopefully will train us to do so in all matters at all times. My guess is that if you start praying for something as simple as your computer to work it will become more natural to pray for patience with a co-worker who is also giving you trouble. Hopefully this will lead into praying for the co-worker and then even the ability to love them.
Another benefit of these prayers is that they are simple. A roadblock to prayer for some people is making prayer too formal. They wait for the right time and try to say the right words. When I was younger and sometimes still I don’t speak because I want to say something a certain way and I am trying to formulate it correctly. Of course by the time I do this the conversation has already moved on. The way to correct this is to jump right in. What comes out usually sounds like a train wreck with words piling up behind each other. Being humble enough to crawl before I walk though has helped me to gain the ability to walk more often than not. The same is true of prayer (and many areas in life). If we don’t pray unless we have the time to make it high and holy we are not going to learn how to pray. Jesus demonstrated to his disciples that they should pray for something as basic and material as their daily bread, seemingly the most unspiritual request in the Lord’s Prayer, but important nevertheless.
All of this went through my mind, more or less, as I continued to fumble with the player. A few minutes later I prayed. A couple minutes after that and the tray suddenly went in and out without a problem. Thanking God I settled down to watch the movie which was, I found out, anything but relaxing.