Prayer is intimidating to me.
I’ve always thought that you had to do something special - kneel, close your eyes, bow your head, fold your hands - to be in the right position to pray. And then after you had assumed the proper position, you had to have a very eloquent language to speak to God. From what I gathered, prayer was hard and well, it was kind of weird. Unnatural.
When I listened to pastor or ministry leaders pray it was always intimidating. They always had the right thing to say and it sounded so poetic. And spontaneous. I couldn’t figure out how these people just came up with this prayer stuff off the top of their heads. It seemed impossible.
"Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation,
by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving,
present your requests to God."
I often talked to God, mostly when I needed help. “Please God” and “Help me Jesus” were the genuine, heartfelt messages I would send to God…and “please be with me, protect me, protect my kids.” I didn’t count them as prayers as they weren’t eloquent and fancy, they were just basic pleadings almost always from a point of exhaustion and despair. I didn’t know that these, too, were prayers.
I like to think of prayer as a special name for communicating with God. And it is. But I’m not fancy and what I learned is, God doesn’t want us, need us or expect us to be “fancy.”
I decided I wanted to learn how to pray “right.” I knew that prayer was such a powerful thing. I had been the recipient of so many people’s prayers and I had been enormously blessed as a result. I wanted to have a prayer life (because I didn’t realize I already had one).
I got my hands on books about prayer - Kingdom Prayer by Tony Evans, Circle Maker by Mark Batterson, Prayer by Timothy Keller - were a few of my favorites that I quickly devoured. What I learned from all my reading and all the sermons I watched on prayer on YouTube was that prayer doesn’t have to be fancy to be powerful.
I realized that my time listening to worship music while I did my morning cardio was the best time for me to hear from God and to talk to God. That while I’m driving along in my car, I can pray and God hears me. He doesn’t wait for me to get into a special place on my knees with my eyes closed and my head bowed.
I started listening for the Spirit to lay things on my heart. When a friend suddenly comes to mind, I pray for them and I reach out. And almost every time, I find there is a reason that person was on my heart. We don’t always have to know what exactly we’re praying for - just lift the person up to God and pray for His will to be done. He knows what they need and your prayer can be general because he already knows.
I learned that I didn’t need to pray in a specific sequence or order. I don’t have to pray things a certain way to get answers. God not only hears, but he responds to simple prayers. He’s not a genie, so I don’t recommend going to him with your wish list but he does want you to ask for your heart’s desires. But be prepared: you only get them if they are within His will.
I think the most important thing I learned about prayer and praying is what a powerful impact thanking God for all the things he has done, is working on and will do would have on my life. Gratitude changes everything. I can’t say I always love the circumstances I’m in but I have learned to give thanks for them because I know that some how, some way, God is using them for good purpose in my life.
God hears our cries, our praise, our thanks, our requests, our needs…no matter how simple or how eloquent it is communicated. Learning that God knows what is in and on my heart and that I didn’t have to find a pretty way to communicate it to him was a huge factor in actually allowing me to pray. For so long it wasn’t a regular practice for me because I felt that I needed to do it “right.” Let me assure you, there is no right way to pray. There is no right time to pray. There are no right words to pray.
Talk to God. Tell him what is on your heart. Take your burdens to him. Ask him to lead you. Ask him to help you. Talk to him anytime, any place - you don’t have to be kneeling at your bedside. He hears your heart everywhere.