Prayer

I don’t pray enough. I didn’t just figure this out. I’ve known it for a long time but I don’t seem to change. The apostle Paul tells us to pray without ceasing. I definitely don’t do that. I’m not even sure I know what it means. It doesn’t mean you walk around with your eyes closed and talk to God all the time. If it did, you’d need to continually remind God not to let you walk into traffic or drive off a cliff. I’ve heard it explained as an attitude of prayer where you are conscious of God’s presence and communicate with him frequently, about whatever comes to mind. If that’s true, I have a long way to go before I’m praying without ceasing. I pray that I’ll get there soon.

It’s not as though I haven’t tried to pray a lot. I have several books about prayer, by famous Christian authors, on my bookshelf. I’ve read all of them. I even took notes and underlined a bunch of the text. Maybe I’m too lazy to pray. No, that’s not it. Too busy? I don’t work anymore because I’m old and retired. That’s not it either. I just haven’t been diligent enough to make prayer a priority and to develop the habit of regularly and often reaching out to the throne of God and talking to him. Think about “the throne of God.” We have direct access to the creator of the universe. He invites us to come into his presence and talk to him about anything and everything. And if we pray without ceasing…amazing. How stupid not to take advantage of a God who wants to listen to anything we have to say.

I’m not an outgoing, conversational person. On that test they make you take, the Myers-Briggs one, I’m an INTJ. That means I think a lot, don’t care much about what anyone else thinks and am pretty judgmental. But the good news is, I’m usually right. (In my own mind, anyway.) It’s easy for me to sit back and not say much. Maybe that’s my excuse. I’m a non-conversational introvert. I have to work hard to talk with God.

Prayer is what the experts call a “spiritual discipline”. A discipline requires training and commitment. Hopefully, the outcome produces some positive pattern of behavior. I have a lot of work to do before I’m disciplined enough to pray the way I should. The books I read about prayer talk about different types of prayer. For most of the different types, I get so hung up on saying the right things that I don’t do it at all. Well, not exactly “at all”, but certainly “not enough”.

Some people use the ACTS acronym for their prayer time. The letters are for Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving, and Supplication. It’s pretty simplistic, and not as theological as my books on prayer, but it works.  I have my own types of prayers. Mostly they deal with things I need and things I want. Keeps “things” simple. I have the “God, I need you to fix this please” prayer. And the “God, I want you to give this to me” prayer. I think these are the “supplication” prayers. The one I’m worst at are those of thanksgiving. I take so much for granted. It’s pitiful how selfish I can be. Why do I think I deserve to be taken care of with minimal disruption to my life? Sometimes I wish I was less Protestant and more Catholic. Then I’d be better at confessing stuff. I usually have a lot to confess. The adoration prayer is easiest for me when I’m in nature, witnessing God’s handiwork. A sunset, the stars, the ocean, or a hummingbird is all it takes for me to appreciate how amazing God is. I feel sad for anyone who doesn’t see God in nature.

I used to have reminders on my calendar each day at 10:00 am and 2:00 pm. My calendar would pop up a “Look Up” reminder and I would take a minute, or less, to at least think about praying and remembering that God was there, waiting for me to talk to him. It’s a good thing he has other things to do because there were many days I didn’t have much to say.

Sometimes I try to meditate. Jesus liked to get away and be by himself when he prayed. I’ve gone away by myself and been silent for three-four days trying to draw closer to God. It never quite worked the way I wanted it to. I’d sit down intending to focus on prayer. I must have a lot of inner voices waiting to be heard because after about 60 seconds my focus was gone. I’d force myself back and repeat the process. It’s almost like I couldn’t wait for the time to be finished so I could get back to my “normal” state of mind. Five minutes…are you kidding me?

I love my heavenly father. I’ve put my trust in his Son Jesus. But too often I forget to talk to them. How is your prayer life?

Church Outside

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