So, why in the world does anyone pray? I mean, seriously?? Aren’t we all connected enough in this electronically, cyber-spaced up world? Doesn’t everyone have enough thoughts rambling around in their heads? We read about the importance of prayer but do we really believe it? And what about all the requested prayers on social media…do we consider a “like” click a prayer?
Every night as a child I heard my father trek from bedroom to bedroom to pray over his 5 girls and 5 boys and our friend and mothers’ helper, Ethel and everyone else. It wasn’t bedtime until we prayed:
“We love you dear God because you are so good and we are sorry for all our sins because we love you. God Bless Mom, Dad, Anne, Karen, Richard, Walter, Steve, Cathy, Julie, Mary, Jimmy and Billy and Ethel and everyone in the whole wide world. Goodnight Jesus.”
I guess it would have sounded something like the old Waltons’ TV show as each person said good-night to each other and the prayer words echoed throughout the hallways of the house. It was a ritual and it felt good, we were connected to each other and felt connected to God as we ended the day. Many carried on the tradition of this prayer.
Did the nightly prayer help? Well, life didn’t turn out perfectly or without storms for any of us but who knows what could have happened to us if we hadn’t prayed!? Also, I’m sure our Parents were thankful God didn’t answer any prayers we may have had for a Pony or an expensive new car, but I guess one of the main points about praying is that God did tell us to pray, boldly.
Philippians 4:6-7 “Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” (KJV)
Our prayers don’t have to be perfect quotes from the Bible or devotional books or prayers filled with thee’s and thou’s; in fact, they can just be conversations, a spill-over of our hearts; bursting smiles of joyful, pretty words; tearful cries for help or specific, pointed requests or asking in agreement with God about a goal, a healing, an issue or a problem.
Mainly our prayers can begin with big, fat Thank-You’s for what we already have or for what God has already done for us. Sometimes our prayers may begin with some words of doubt or even anger: “What? Where are you God? How could this happen? Sometimes a prayer is even: “God, Why me?” In fact, some of the most heartfelt prayers are whispered along with an ugly-cry. Prayers aren’t always pretty.
It seems sometimes we believe prayer is thought of as just a request to be answered, only as we define it. “Please let me pass this test” or “Please heal my loved one.” And if we don’t get our requests met….well, ‘that’s that’, we think. God didn’t listen.
In this day of ordering a product online without even leaving our homes and then receiving it in the mail a few days later, it’s no wonder that praying for something feels empty if we don’t get what we want, when we want it! In fact, with an ‘ask, order, pay, receive’ attitude of prayer words, some may get turned off if God doesn’t respond with the “receive” part of the perceived deal. With a quid-pro-quo attitude on prayer, it’s easy to become discouraged if we feel we did everything right and didn’t get what we ordered.
Putting an emphasis only on receiving what we want misses the relationship part of prayer…The beautiful, heartfelt words part of prayer with God, and especially with his Son, Jesus. When Jesus hears us talk, they are always pretty words…prayers…and then our own inner ears open up, in the stillness of our souls and HE talks back to us, deep within our souls. This relationship opens us up for discernment, wisdom, correct choices, reasoning, words for others and peace. We can hear Jesus calming our hearts and preparing us for whatever is coming our way in our life journey.
One of my favorite prayers is:
“Jesus, nothing will happen to me today that You and I can’t work out together.”
Pretty simple…right? But it says so much. It acknowledges first that God is in control, second that I am starting the day off in Faith, and will do my part in whatever needs to be done and third that whatever happens, we will work it out together for GOOD. This simple prayer is a comforting few words of protection and peace. It acknowledges my part in working out my issues and not just praying and possibly being disappointed if something doesn’t happen immediately or easily fall in my lap. Daily prayer can center us in every aspect of life. It allows for a connection with God that is above all earthly things thus putting priorities in order. It strips away our PRIDE and it can be a spiritual anchor and provide a feeling of comfort during hard times.
Picturing a Prayer as an Anchor is comforting for me. Like an anchor, a Prayer connects with something solid, God, and prayer keeps me from drifting from where I don’t want to go or shouldn’t go. Or it allows me to stay in a specific place, have fun or work and be safe until it is time to move on. I then pick it up and take it with me to use the next time to connect with God. Sometimes I look up at the sky and just say this prayer: “Wow”!
When temptations or confusing choices arise, if prayer is a daily habit, it can slow us down and give us some time to make the right choice and thus be in agreement with God. Or if a wrong choice is made, prayer can re-connect us and reconcile the wrong choices. With God’s forgiveness and mercy all prayer words are heard and received with unconditional love. And Jesus can be at our side 24/7 and be our best friend and guess what??…it can all be done in silence, if needed, or in the middle of a dark night.
Or sometimes a Prayer is in a song…What a wonderful way to send up thoughts and feelings to God.
Just remember, no one has a lock on HOW to pray. There are many ways we may have been taught that we are supposed to pray: specific, memorized prayers; repeated mantras; amen responses only; in nature; in the city; in tongues or never in tongues; out loud; silently; sitting down; standing up; kneeling down; heads bowed; eyes closed or eyes open; touching someone or not touching; head on our crossed arms; palms together, fingers straight; or arms in the air…all wonderful ways to pray but all individual and none required by God. Sometimes I see people wondering how they should pray and realize they are more focused on the method than any simple words spoken to Jesus. They look around and mimic someone’s method and stall their own spiritual method of prayer. Sometimes pride, competition and judgment of others can enter the heart when watching another persons’ demonstration of prayer. Sometimes the prayer methods are simply repetition of ones’ upbringing and custom or comfort.
It doesn’t matter if you pray louder than others around you, pray silently or sing in prayer, it’s all about the relationship with God and knowing that HE hears you and wants to hear you more. HE already knows your needs but wants you reaching to HIM and trusting in HIM with all of your heart to provide what you need not always what you want.
Pray, however you want to pray. Just pray, HE is listening.
2 Timothy 1:3 “I thank God, whom I serve from my forefathers with pure conscience, that without ceasing I have remembrance of thee in my prayers night and day; (KJV)
from “Every Girl Needs a Pair of Red-Boots” by Anne Stewart Helton