How's Your Prayer Life?
There are many stereotypes of prayer that are not at all helpful:
- A child reciting a bed-time prayer
- Prayers read repetitively from a book
- Prayers of desperation- "Oh God!!!! HELP!!!"
- Intercessors straining over a long list of needy people
The fact is that prayer is simply a conversation with our heavenly Father. It's a way of deepening our relationship and sharing the concerns of our heart while attending to the concerns of His heart. It's an expression of love.
My parents live a long way from us. It's a rare year that I see them more than once or twice. We communicate from time to time by phone. How would it be if the only times I called them were to ask them to send money or do something for me? It would not be much of a relationship. So I ring sometimes just to see how they are going. There's no agenda, no compulsion, no guilt or anxiety.
Prayer is meant to be just like that.
Christians are people who have a personal relationship with God, who have learned that they can entrust their lives into God's hands.
So prayer is an expression of our love for God and His love for us.
Notice that prayer is a two way conversation. It isn't just a presentation of our shopping list.
Some people have patterns for praying that they find helpful. One such is called ACTS and goes like this:
- Adoration- tell God how much you love Him
- Confession- admit to the things you have done that displease Him-- don't obsess about this
- Thanksgiving- say "thank you" for answered prayers and daily blessings
- Supplication- finally the asking part where we bring our requests to God
Some people advocate a particular time of the day. I find that I pray several times each day. My thoughts just turn to God and I might talk over some things that are concerning me or just spend some time in praise. My favourite prayer times are when I go for my afternoon walk.
If I were to suggest a model for prayer it would be like this:
- Still your heart.
- Perhaps read a short psalm
- Quietly listen for the still small voice of the Holy Spirit
- Praise God for his blessings
- Talk about issues.
- Listen for answers that might come to you just as thoughts
If you concentrate better sitting then sit, if kneeling then kneel, if walking about (my favourite) then walk.
Some people find it helpful to journal their prayers... just write down the substance of what you want to say to God and His response to that. It is also helpful to write down all those things that come into your head the moment that you try to pray- write down the things that you remember you have to do and then when they come up again tell yourself it's on the list and you will worry about that later.
The important thing is to develop the routine of prayer, inviting the Lord into every part of our daily lives. THe ultimate goal of prayer is to live all of our lives in an awareness of the presence of God.
So, how's your prayer life?
What do you need to do to improve your relationship with the living God?