This past year has been a year of growth for me, in huge ways that I never could have imagined! One of the most shocking things for me is that I have been leading a life group – something I never in a million years would figure myself “qualified” to do. (God really can make ALL THINGS possible!)
During a recent session with the aforementioned group, one of the ladies bravely asked for tips on “how to pray” — something that I think we all have wanted to ask at one point or another, but either didn’t have the guts or just plain figured we were struggling through OK. So I’ve taken much of what was discussed in that group of women, along with a few other thoughts and resources, and made it into my “Sister’s Post” for January!
I grew up attending the Lutheran Church – and in third grade we had to memorize “The Lord’s Prayer” in Sunday School. Sunday services had at least 3 prayers – all of which came from the hymnal. And, of course, before bed I prayed “Now I lay me, down to sleep…” followed up with a round of “God Bless my Mommy, and Daddy, and…” which would go on as long as I could possibly drag it out to stay awake later! But prayer as a relationship builder with our Heavenly Father? That was a fairly new concept for me as I began to grow my faith as an adult.
Matthew 6 says:
5 “And when you pray, you must not be like the hypocrites. For they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, that they may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward.
7 “And when you pray, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do, for they think that they will be heard for their many words. 8 Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.
Lord’s Prayer (2)
Of course, Jesus gives us an example of prayer immediately following the above verses! (Matthew 6:9-13) So that’s the perfect place to start!
So let’s break it down! Sure, we could just repeat the Lord’s Prayer regularly – and I occasionally do! It’s definitely a good one. 😉 But I tend to use it as a jumping off point.
Sure, you’ve heard the acronyms -PRAISE: Praise, Repent, Ask, Intercede, Speak the Word, Enjoy His Prescence; FACTS: Faith, Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving, Supplication – and several other popular ones out there! And those are great places to start. But they are all just versions of what Jesus tells us to do in the Lord’s Prayer!
Our Father in Heaven, Hallowed be your name – That’s Adoring Him, Praising Him, telling Him we know who He is.
Your kingdom come, Your will be done, on Earth as it is in Heaven – Lord, I know you are awesome and amazing – and I know that You are in control. That, ultimately, Your will will be done.
Give us today our daily bread. – Here’s your supplication, your “ask”!
Forgive us our debts, as we have forgiven our debtors – Your chance to confess! (And also to ask him to help you forgive any grudges you’ve been holding onto!)
And lead us not into temptation, deliver us from the evil one. – This one we often leave out of our acronyms, but it’s such an important one! Why not ask him to help keep us from temptation, to protect us from the enemy? (Even if we don’t have an immediate threat!)
So there are the basic tools for prayer. All you need is yourself and some time to talk to God. But that’s where it gets too confusing. I often need a road map – and a lot of confidence! (And please, whatever you do? Don’t ask me to pray out loud!! It’ll just embarrass us both!)
Here’s the thing – it’s easy to pray when we need something. When my husband lost his job? I was in prayer almost constantly. But now that things are going well? It’s easy to forget to put him on my prayer list. It’s easy to forget to pray about his job – that he may continue to prosper there. Or just his well-being in general.
When my grandmother was sick? I prayed often. For her. For my family. For her doctors. But then she passed away, and as the days and weeks went on? I quit praying over that situation. And without any immediate problems? My prayers slowly stopped all together.
But that’s not what God wants. Not at all! He wants to form a relationship with us through our prayers. He wants us to come to him – daily. With our good. Our bad. He wants us to intercede on behalf of others. To pray for strangers. To pray for our spouses. To pray.
So how do we do that? How – as busy women with jobs, and children, and grandchildren. Spouses and commitments. How do we squeak in time for this Divine appointment?
(Remember – I am so far from being an expert it’s not even funny! I’m just a thirty-something mom, wading my way through these waters and trying to find what works for me! If it’s something I can pass on to you? More power to it!) So here are three prayer tips/ideas/thoughts that maybe can help you! (They’ve helped me!)
1: One of my favorite pieces of advice I’ve ever been given – perhaps one that has impacted my relationship with God more than any other? To pray in the shower. Stick with me – I promise, I’m going somewhere. See, it’s nearly impossible to find five minutes to myself. And when I have those five minutes? I’m reading a book. Or writing for my blog. I’m doing something for ME! Because I rarely get the chance to do something for me.
But in the shower? No one is going to interrupt me. (OK. That’s a lie. I still get interrupted at least three times a week. But I’m more likely to get quiet, private time.) So that’s where I start my day. Me and God. I just talk. Sometimes I follow the above mentioned techniques. Sometimes I just tell him what’s on my mind. Sometimes I just take a few minutes to praise him. But every day, my shower is my appointment with God.
2: The movie The War Room has inspired many women to clean their closets – but I can promise you, that’s something you’ll never find me doing! My house it too small. My closets too valuable. (Seriously – my husband and I share an itty bitty closet. He wouldn’t be too happy with me throwing his clothes out of the closet – and it’s barely bigger than a phone booth, so it won’t work anyway.) But if you can build your special place in the closet, or a corner of your bedroom? Go for it! (I’m more than a little jealous.)And if you can’t? Don’t worry too much! You don’t NEED a space. It’s just a nice bonus!
3: Keeping a prayer journal! Since I don’t have a prayer space? I made mine mobile. It’s just a list. Prayer requests I’ve received. Bible verses I like to recall. A few written out prayers for when I’ve got nothing else. Whenever I have a few minutes? I open my notebook and just read the list to God. (Adding extra detail here and there, making it personal beyond a grocery list of requests.)
Here’s the thing. Don’t stress it! Don’t spend hours trying to perfect your prayer. Just do it. Just start talking, forming a relationship with God. Before long? You’ll be hearing back from Him, and this will hopefully be enough to spur you forward in your prayer life!
And when I say don’t stress it? I mean it! This wouldn’t be a blog entry without a personal touch, would it? About four months ago I was at church prepping for a worship service with our worship team. One of the worship leaders looked at me and said, “Jacque, lead us in prayer.” CUE DEER IN THE HEAD LIGHTS LOOK! I froze. Then mumbled, “I don’t do that.” (The amount of odd looks I got was a bit embarrassing.) Sure, I pray. But not out loud. Never out loud. But I’m getting there. Slowly. Eventually.