Prayer is very personal, and one size does not fit all. Just as we are all special, so is the way we pray. I’ve looked at models and methods my entire life in an attempt to improve my praying in the same way a diet might improve my health. Praying, like living and loving, is something we each do differently. I’m sure God is glad about that:) Otherwise, he would be inundated with impersonal rote rituals that would surely put Him to sleep. It would be like talking to a machine when you call to get help. Technology is making those standard messages a little better, but I know of few things in this world that irritate me more than having to listen to those impersonal menus with general answers that leave me shaking my head when I need more.
When it comes to praying, it is easy to get into ruts that sound like those recordings. It’s like getting forwards in your inbox instead of a personal messages. Praying is conversing with God, and I don’t have to say a thing for Him to know just what I feel. He knows my heart, but telling Him my deepest desires allows me to see and hear them. Just as talking to a trusted friend helps me hear my heart, talking to God is so much more healing. He knows me better than anyone and loves me more than I am able to grasp.
The most important element of prayer is love. The scriptures last week from 1 Corinthians 13 were about just that. Without love, it doesn’t matter if I fast and stay on my face for forty days. Love is what lifts prayers to God, and love is the foundation upon which all effective prayer rests. Loving someone is praying for them all the time. It is as involuntary as breathing. Love gives life to my prayers and is where the praying life begins. It allows me to die to selfish wants even when those wants seem to be what is right. It’s hard not to pray for all things to be made right, but I know in my heart that all things cannot be perfect. If they were, we wouldn’t learn anything while on this journey.
It is in the sufferings and hurt that I lean upon God. He is always there to get me through the darkness. If all were perfect, I would lose my yearning for His presence. That yearning is the yarn that holds my heart and this world together. Praying connects me to One who understands my heart whether hurting or happy. He cries with me and celebrates with me just as my pray partners here. That is really what prayer is all about, and I’m learning to make the connections that make this journey a praying life filled with compassion for others and a deeper love of God.