My prayer life growing up was.. well... religious. Being raised Catholic, there seemed to be a specific prayer for every occasion or situation. Prayers to be memorized and repeated. I don't remember often - if ever - praying from the heart. Just talking to God and telling Him what I was thinking... feeling... struggling with. I never saw prayer as simply pouring out my heart to him in a free, open way.
I no longer pray those all head - no heart, routine memorizations. Which is good. However, it's also left me with what I perceive to be two major problems with my prayer life:
Now when I pray I have no ritual or routine to my prayer life whatsoever. I pray whenever and where ever. I pray when I feel I need to or should. I pray when I feel grateful; when I am overcome with joy. I pray when I hear of someone in need. I pray when my heart is heavy, when I am sad or angry, or in doubt.
But not always. I don't go to God as often as I could - or should. Just when it occurs to me to pray. Prayer isn't a regular part of my life. It just happens as it happens. Not exactly a bad thing. But when entire days manage to slip by without prayer - that's a problem.
In "Living So That", Wendy talks about using prayer triggers. Things to remind us to pray for a particular person when we see that item. I love this idea to help remind me to pray for my family and for people I know are struggling or in need of prayer. I'll be putting that concept into place immediately!
Prayer is about building a relationship with God. It's about constantly keeping the lines of communication open. It's about spending time with God and learning to be aware of His presence.
You can't have a relationship with someone you rarely talk to!
When I do pray, I find it difficult to do so with confidence. Perhaps it's a leftover result of all those memorized "this is what to pray when" prayers from childhood. But, I often usually struggle with feeling as if I'm not doing it "right". I feel like I don't know what to say. Or how to say it.
As if God isn't going to listen or hear unless I say exactly the right thing - in exactly the right way.
"Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need" ~ Hebrews 4:16
When I talk to a friend or family member, I don't struggle with every word - wondering if I am saying it "right". I just say what I am thinking. Expressing what I am feeling. Asking for help or guidance. Telling them what is going on in my life. That's how my prayer should be.
Slowly... oh, so slowly... it's starting to sink in. Prayer isn't about having the right words. It's not about being oh-so-eloquent. It's not some magic turn of phrase that's going to make God sit up and listen.
"He delights in us. He rejoices over us. Whatever we are doing or thinking, He seeks to be included." ~ Wendy Blight (Living So That)
God wants to hear my prayers. He wants me to pour my heart out to him - the good and the bad. The praise and the doubts. Not in some list, form, or agenda. But straight from my soul to His throne. He wants to help me through the difficult times. He wants to hear about the things which bring me joy and make me thankful to Him.
Prayer is about having a relationship with with God. Opening up an honest two way conversation. Telling Him what's on my heart. Being in His Presence. And eagerly listen, anticipating His response. And then thanking Him when the answers come.
Do you struggle with prayer? In what ways?