#41 – Talking to the Man Upstairs

his is the Fourth installment of a mini-series I’m calling:

“Uh – I don’t think so”

examining mis-held assumptions that cause discontentment.


What an absolutely bizarre way to refer to communication with the creator and sustainer of the universe. Yet, it’s not uncommon to hear people refer to prayer as “talking to the man upstairs.” or something similar. Unfortunately, that’s not the only way we misunderstand prayer.

Prayer is something that I’ve held many unhelpful assumptions about – and I know I’m not the only one. Among the unhelpful ways I – and others I know- have understood prayer include:

  • Prayer as a last-ditch effort when you realize you are out of options
  • Prayer as a way to get what you want from God 
  • Prayer as a way to cover your own ideas with a veneer of religion 
  • Prayer as never anything more than rote recitation 
  • Prayer as a way to means to end all suffering, disappointments, and problems in your life

These and other mis-held assumptions really do affect our contentment because we are missing out on something that can bring contentment to our daily lives – intimate, personal, meaningful, communication with God.

I think one of the things that really clicked for me (much later than it should have) was reflecting on what do I really want out of prayer. Would I be happy to continue praying, spending time with God, if He never answers my prayers the way I want Him to? In other words, do I want the thing I’m praying for MORE than I want God? If so I’m using God to try to manufacture my own contentment. I want God to give me something (a job, a mended relationship, health) because I know that will bring contentment. A completely different posture is that I find contentment in God -and spending time in prayer is its own joy, its own reward.

(no – I”m not there yet – but I’m working on it)


The next time you pray – write out the things you most want from God. Then think about whether you are basing your contentment on receiving those things. What if God answered ZERO of those prayers the way you want – could you still be content? Could you still find joy in spending time in prayer?


the ability to even speak to you is beyond my comprehension. 
The fact that somehow you hear me, listen to me is often impossible to believe. it’s too good to believe. 
However – you asked us to pray to you. 
You told us to address you as Abba Father – Papa, Daddy 
while understanding that you are hallowed, holy, completely set apart from everything else in the universe. 
I want to believe you hear and answer my prayers, 
but more than that I want to believe you are with me as I pray. 
I want to feel the presence of your Spirit, 
receive the forgiveness of your Heart, 
and be part of the work of your people. 
Lord I believe…help my unbelief.