Thoughts about the gift of prayer...

Thursday, September 29

You would think that for someone who tends to overshare prayer would be the easy part of a relationship with God. In my Heavenly Father I have the most genuine listener who always cares about what I am thinking and feeling. He wants to be my closest companion, and I like to ramble on incessantly... seems like it would be a perfect fit. And yet, prayer is one area of my spiritual life that I have consistently struggled with. Sure, I frequently pour out my heart to God throughout the day, but I have often felt like there had to be more to it than that. After all, no real relationship is so one-sided.

I have focused most of my energy instead on learning how to study God's Word. Studying comes naturally to me, so it was the easy place to begin. I know that Scripture is the primary way God communicates with us, and I desperately crave direction and input from my Creator. Learning to dig in to my Bible has helped me start to really accept God's undeniable love for me. It is changing me in beautiful ways. It has also created an even greater desire for a more focused prayer life. Yet still, I didn't really know where to start. 

Like anyone raised in a Lutheran school, I had memorized a variety of prayers and creeds for classes. Somehow, though, I still had this idea in my head that prayer only really "counted" if it was my own words. I think that this belief is a big part of why I have struggled so much with prayer. I love writing... but extemporaneous speaking is not my thing at all. And that is kind of what prayer is. I want to honor my King with beautiful words, and instead I find myself stumbling. I know it isn't about the words to God, but like a little child bringing wildflowers plucked from the yard I wanted to offer something pretty to show my love. 

I have also been challenged by the question of the very purpose of prayer. I know communicating with God is important. I know He wants us to come to Him with both the good and the bad. I see this most vividly as I read through the book of Psalms. God listens when we cry out. This I believe to be true. But is there more to it? What does it mean to listen for answers to prayers? Does praying really change outcomes? These big questions, especially that last one, are not easy to address. And yet, I feel like I am being drawn in to this beautiful relationship and realizing what a precious gift prayer is. 

I feel like I have learned so much, and am so truly thankful for this gift of prayer, that perhaps I will take a leap and write about it daily in October. I have friends who do the #write31days challenge this time each year (like my amazing friend Faith who totally inspires me) and even though I know I stink at any challenge that requires daily effort maybe I will approach it with grace and see what happens. If nothing else, perhaps trying to break down what I want to record into smaller posts will help me not feel so overwhelmed when I sit down to blog. 

And so, I will abruptly end here. I must say... blogging sure doesn't come naturally like it used to! Maybe a challenge will help. 

1 comment :

  1. Struggling right there with you, sister. It's hard for me to stay focused during any lengthy prayer time I try to have. Quick, spontaneous prayers are often easier for me, but then I don't feel like I'm praying enough.

    Have you read Steinmann's "Is God Listening?" I read it in college, and really should review it again. It's a good, short book on making prayer a part of our lives. I'm also planning to dive into Pless's new release, "Praying Luther's Small Catechism." Maybe one of those would provide some of the guidance you're looking for. Praying for you as you continue to seek God for all your needs.


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