If you would ask me about my knowledge and ability to pray, I would say that I stink. Up until about 5 years ago, if you would ask me to pray aloud in front of a group (even a group of 2), the people-pleaser in me might think about saying yes, but my answer would be, “no.”
To give you a little background, my family attended a Lutheran church when I was little (family tradition), then we began to attend a Methodist Church, and by high school we attended a Nazarene church while I attended a Catholic high school, so, I affectionately label myself a denominational mutt. All in all, it was a great experience to observe differences, similarities, and authenticity amongst each group. When it came to the issue of prayer, I saw and heard only a few select pray, and that would be the men that stood in front of me on the “platform” each Sunday morning. I viewed prayer as reserved for a few select, for the intelligent, and for the well-rehearsed, you see, I didn’t know about the relationship I could have with a Jesus that could be my personal friend, guide, coach, teacher, and father.
So what is my “take” on prayer now? It has become an integral part of my day. Did it happen overnight? I don’t think many things do, not anything that has long-lasting, transformational effects anyway. We are so wired to want the immediate aren’t we. Am I over a fear of what I will say as others “overhear”? Nope. But something comes about when you learn or practice anything in life – you stretch your legs, you become more comfortable, somewhat more confident, and along the way advance in the skill. Have any of you watched a small child’s attempt to swim in a pool? Have you then observed them at their attempts the following summer? How about a few years to follow? Micheal Phelps began like this 🙂
However, we, as adults, struggle with something that children haven’t yet – more years of life. Years filled with joys and real pains, hopes & dreams and doubts, successes and failures, disappointments, betrayals, and bitterness. How often or how easy is it to allow these experiences to frame our walls, our defenses, and our mind-sets? May I humbly suggest that these life experiences may be just what holds us back from our desires to even attempt to pray – too many what-ifs. May I suggest that there is another who would like nothing else than to plant that voice of doubt, masking it as your own voice, and justifying your action in closing the door on a relationship with your Heavenly Father, your creator?
As the Lord leads, I plan on delving into several aspects of prayer in attempt to deepen my understanding so I may pray more effectively and draw closer to Him. I believe so often we think of prayer as something we do to break through to God – to get his attention and to get Him to listen to us. But intimacy with God is His idea. He has taken the initiative, and prayer is His gift to us. It is an opportunity for us to respond to His invitation to intimacy by calling, crying, and singing to Him (for me, the latter is mostly in the shower and the car). Will you join me in this challenge? Start small. Choose a close friend, perhaps a spouse, perhaps a child, and simply say the words in your heart, whatever they may be, to Him. He doesn’t care what you say, he just loves that you do.