Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Don't Know What To Say In A Prayer?

Don’t Know What To Say In a Prayer?
An Introduction To Prayer

Prayer is a conversation with God. It is that simple. And yet talking to the God of the universe may leave you wondering what to say. What could I say that would matter to God? Doesn’t God know what I am going to say anyway, so why bother? And a bunch of other questions may inhibit.

Here is the truth: God is deeply interested in what you have on your heart and mind. God is ready to listen all the time and is eager to connect with you, hear from you, and talk with you. Every good mother or father not only wants to know what is on the minds of their children, but eagerly awaits the conversation that will reveal it, even if the parent already knows. 

But what do I say to God?

Here are several ideas:

 Thanks. Just voice your gratitude for the good things in your life. This has the added benefit of actually spending some time to focus on the positive in a world that either focuses on the negative or numbs itself because of the negative. Giving thanks to God is good medicine – for you.

Ask. Explore the desires of your heart and ask for them. Wait a minute, isn’t this selfish or self-absorbed? Well, it can be, but there is a huge difference between “God, let me win the powerball” and “God, fill me with great wisdom and humility.” Seeking virtue in order to help you become your best self is never selfish.

 Intercede for people you love. Knowing the struggles and hopes of the people you love (family, friends, neighbors, co-worker / other students etc) and sharing these with God is a generous act. It also has the added benefit of increasing your empathy for those people.

 Intercede for people you do not like. Genuinely seeking the good of others and asking God to be good and generous to those who bother you, hurt you, mock you, take credit for what you did, accuse you, embarrass you, wrong you, etc is beautiful and humble. It also has the added benefit of developing empathy better than just about any other thing.

Intercede for the world. There is a lot going on this world that could use some intervention. Hunger, disease, terrorism, war, scandal, oppressive systems, various kinds of human trafficking, all manner of discrimination, etc. Pleading to God for intervention on these matters is powerful. It has the added benefit of helping you find your place in being part of the solution.

 Pour out your heart. Expressing your hurt, worries, fears, pain to God in an honest and vulnerable way can build intimacy between you and God. Yes God knows it, but sharing it makes the relationship closer and more intimate. it may also feel good to cry with God. 

Confess. Sharing secrets, especially sinful or even shameful secrets, with God is one of the most power kinds of prayer. Confession is not about giving God new information that would have otherwise remained unknown, but rather about having the humility to “look God in the eye” and say it while having the trust that God’s response will be loving and kind and forgiving. Confession has the added benefit of great emotional relief.

Repentance. Seeking ways to change unhealthy or sinful ways of living and asking God for the courage to change and the strength to maintain the change is about as humble as it gets.

Listen. Sometimes prayer is about just listening. Being quiet in a room alone, in nature, in the car etc  can provide a rest for the mind and heart. Sometimes the rest itself is enough. Sometimes God provides thoughts that would not otherwise have come or feelings that had no space to emerge otherwise.

Scripture. Open up Psalms or Proverbs or one of the gospels and read through part of it, but read it as a prayer. Sometimes there is no better way to connect with God than through the Word of God filtered through you and back to God.  

There are more ways to pray than these, but when those moments come when prayer is difficult or you are overwhelmed and just can’t think of how to talk with God, maybe these can help. 

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