Praying is hard

05

May

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Okay, maybe praying isn’t hard for everyone. It seems like some people have a particular gift at sounding intelligent when praying out loud. It makes the rest of us hesitant to pray where someone else can hear us. In part, I think that’s fine. God doesn’t want us all standing up and praying loudly. In fact, the Bible tells us to do otherwise.

Not that I think those who pray out loud at church are doing something wrong, as long as they aren’t there to be heard, and praised, by people. I think someone leading in prayer can help those of us who aren’t sure how to pray by providing an example. Even Jesus’ followers asked for help in how they should pray. Jesus gave them what we know as the Lord’s Prayer.

What drives me nuts is when someone “praying” is actually preaching. Preaching instead of praying is particularly noisome to me because you’re supposed to be talking to God, not to those human beings who might be hearing you. Maybe He doesn’t care just so long as you’re talking to him, but the focus is supposed to be God.

We also seem to think there’s a certain way we’re supposed to talk to God. We have to use particular phrases or terms or we’re not doing it right. There’s a funny cartoon out there that illustrates this (If we talked to people the way we talk to God). This bothers me because people compare their own prayers to the “right way” to pray and feel lacking. But the thing is, God just wants us to talk to him. The content of our prayers is way more important than the words we use. I like the example in Exodus of the Israelites who were in slavery in Egypt  They groaned and God heard them. Even when we don’t have the words, God understands.

For someone who’s not very good at praying, I ‘m pretty critical of how people are doing it (You should see me watching a hockey game and I don’t even know how to stop on ice skates). The thing is, we have made something so simple very complicated. I can talk with the best of them, so talking to the God who loves me shouldn’t be that tough. But somehow it is.

The hardest part for me is the concentration necessary. My mind wanders (Squirrel!) or I get interrupted. There are a lot of suggestions out there for how to pray. These can be very helpful. My tip is to pray now. A missionary family whose emails I receive always lists prayer requests and praises. When I get the email, I pray right then. I don’t wait for a set time, because I know I won’t remember the particulars. When someone makes a request, or if something comes up on Facebook, I stop and pray. This helps me because the prayers aren’t usually long and they are very specific. My mind doesn’t have time to wander.

Praying may be hard, but difficult things are usually worth the effort. Prayer is a blessing, both in being able to address our God personally and when others are praying for us. So, bless yourself and bless someone else. Go ahead, I’ll wait.

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