. Prayer & Meditation

Prayer for Everybody. 5 Ways to Make Prayer Doable for You

Prayer has been regarded all through history as a normal, valuable activity, and many of us have proven that in our own lives.  So these are not new discoveries about prayer; but it’s good to think about our praying (or lack thereof) from time to time.

5 simple skills for strong prayer

Let’s get back into it, eh?  Here are 5 guidelines: Don’t Be Intimidated.  Keep It Simple.  Keep It Fairly Frequent.  Keep It Honest.  Keep It Loving.

I.  Don’t Be Intimidated.

We can be intimidated by

    a) …the idea that God is always angry, or touchy, or not willing to put up with us.

But “In [Christ] and through faith in him we may approach God with freedom and confidence.” (Ephesians 3:12)

We can be intimidated by

    b)  … the odd reality of speaking to an invisible being,

(out loud or on paper (or computer) or in our minds or hearts), a being who does not have a reputation for verbally responding.  Just go ahead and do it. Some of the smartest, best people in history have made a habit of this. It’s for real. Just go ahead and do it.  Surrender your pride if that’s the issue.

We can be intimidated by

    c)  … the fact that we cannot pray as nicely, “right,” or eloquently

as someone else.  That’s true, of course, for every last one of us.  But it doesn’t matter.  Those critical “superior pray-ers” aren’t listening anyway 🙂  The point is to come with honest communication. God is listening to YOU.

II.  Be Simple.

JesusSimple in at least two ways:

  a)  Don’t try to be fancy.

You will not impress God with fanciness.  He can out-fancy you in a tenth of a millisecond every day of the year. That is not at all what he’s looking for.  He’s looking for honest relationship.

b)  Don’t try to be superior to anyone.

Who will decide, anyway, whether your prayer is superior?  God literally does not care, and probably is offended if you are speaking to him in order to impress someone else.  I am offended when someone tries to talk some certain way to me in order to impress someone else. If you want to talk to me, do so.  I expect God feels the same.

III. Be Fairly Frequent.

If you don’t pray, you can’t do these three things:

a)  Pray.

Duh.  If you don’t pray, you don’t pray.  If you do, you do.

b)  Get answers,

It does sometimes happen. For those who practice a lot it seems to happen more regularly.

c)  Learn the skills of prayer.

We should not imagine that we get better at practically everything in life by practice and experience – except prayer.  Even with prayer you can’t be getting experience (practice, training, growth, insight) if you never opt to get any experience.

And of course an important part of getting experience is that you don’t always do it “right” every last time.  That’s part of the deal. One old teacher about prayer says, “At first it groans, at last it glides” (P T Forsyth, in “The Soul of Prayer”).  If it feels like a “groan” keep at it. It will get smoother – not every day will be smoother, but the pattern will definitely be getting smoother.[click_to_tweet tweet=”We can be intimidated by the fact that we cannot pray as nicely, “right,” or eloquently as someone else.  That’s true, of course, for every last one of us. But it doesn’t matter.” quote=”We can be intimidated by the fact that we cannot pray as nicely, “right,” or eloquently as someone else.  That’s true, of course, for every last one of us. But it doesn’t matter.”]

IV. Be Honest.

a)  Pin it down.

Sometimes the hard part of this practice of honesty is to really pin down what really needs saying, i.e. talking to God about. Face to Face with God You have to calm down. You have to think about your life, worries, hopes, spiritual attitudes and practices.  Don’t worry about being eloquent – everything can, and I think should, come before God. Not everything can come at once, but everything should show up sooner or later.

b)  No showing off to God

Seriously?  We’re going to try to illegitimately impress GOD??  It’s good to drop that idea quickly, and get down to trying to pin down what really needs discussing, or presenting.  Then do it.

c)  No showing off to other people.

This could even be people in our minds, or in our history, who we think WOULD criticize our prayers if they heard them.  But they don’t get to listen in!

V. Try to Be Loving.

When it comes to praying for other people – well it can be confusing.  We are not being asked to control either their thinking or their lives.  We are certainly called to love them and care for / about them.

Prayer for people is basically bringing our attention, and God’s attention, to specific persons or situations because of our love (concern) for them.  Of course we can ask for certain changes, or decisions, or deliverances, and should.  But prayer is not a way to (try to) take control of another person.  It is a way to bring the blessed attention of God to them. Pray for people, out of love for them.  But do not imagine that this makes you responsible for whatever good or bad things come into their lives.

St Paul mentions “remembering you in my prayers.”  That’s actually pretty mellow. He lists in a few places things he prays for people – things like knowing God better, being more filled with love, being wiser and more discerning about life in this world.  Good stuff!

There are five good ideas.  Do you have a favorite? What would you add?

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