“Does God have a set way of prayer, a way that He expects each of us to follow? I doubt it. I believe some people, lots of people pray through the witness of their lives, through the work that they do, the friendships they have, the love they offer people and receive from people. Since when are words the only acceptable form of prayer?”
Years ago I took a two year course in spiritual direction. We spent a lot of time reading spiritual classics and learning about prayer. The first thing I learned is that most of us, like Beth Ann, are not completely satisfied with our prayer lives. Remember, even the disciples asked Jesus, “teach us to pray.”(Luke 11:1). The second thing I learned is that there are many ways to pray, and that we should pray as we can, not as we can’t.
This month in my posts I want to tell you about some different ways to pray. Beth Ann has already mentioned three: having a quiet place and time to pray, sending up quick prayer arrows throughout the day, and writing in a journal. All of these are good. Give them a try. You don’t have to do them all at once, and you don’t have to keep doing what doesn’t work or isn’t comfortable. See what fits into your life, and what works fits your personality. In my own life I’ve found that a method of prayer will work for me for a while, and then it just doesn’t. Maybe that’s just me or maybe that happens to you, too. I used to feel this was a kind of failure, but now I’ve learned it’s just time to change and try something else, at least for a while.
Frank Laubauch, a Christian missionary, once said, “I really do believe that all thought can be conversations with Thee.” I’ve come to see that in all my busy thinking, I’m constantly talking to God. I tried to describe to my husband once how God is always on my mind, and part of my thought processes, even if it’s not completely obvious. He said, “so it’s as if God is your operating program, always running in the background?” I guess that comes pretty close to explaining my experience. And if God is my operating program then, I can say that in some sense, my whole life is a prayer.
I hope this doesn’t sound conceited. I fall down in my prayer life all the time. Sometimes that operating program is running and I still ignore for a while. Saying my thoughts and my life are prayer doesn’t excuse me from other kinds of prayer: corporate prayer, intercessory prayer, studying the scriptures prayerfully, singing prayerfully, etc.. In fact, I think I need to be doing some of these things regularly in order to keep my mental conversation with Christ going.
Anyway, in all this rambling, what I really want to say is KEEP PRAYING. Don’t beat yourself up because you’re not doing it right. It doesn’t matter how you do it, what matters is your earnest desire to know Jesus and be with Him.
I hope this month we’ll get lots of feedback about the prayer life of other Christian women. What have you tried? What worked or didn’t? We’re interested in hearing from you.