I'm so grateful to Holly for the inspiration and opportunity to write about my spiritual journey. Please stop by her blog and share your own spiritual journey.
Prayer. As a child, prayer meant reciting prayers...Our Father and Hail Mary...before dinner we said grace, "Bless us, O Lord, for these thy gifts, which we are about to receive, for your bounty. Through Christ, our Lord. Amen." Before bed we said, "Now I lay me down to sleep. I pray the Lord my soul to keep. And if I should die before I wake, I pray the Lord, my soul to take." These were recitations said without any thought to the meaning behind the words. I said them to please my parents, to please God.
I said prayers.
I had never prayed.
Six years ago I was invited to a small group with some neighbors I had recently met and about a year after that I started attending their Methodist Church. That's when praying took on a whole new meaning for me.
In our small group, there were three of us. We read books and discussed them. We talked about our lives. And we prayed. The meeting always ended with us sharing concerns or praises for each other and we'd pray...OUT LOUD. I had never prayed out loud like that in front of anyone before. I was terrified. It took me over a year to pray out loud. My kind, patient friends prayed for me. In my struggle I worried...how do I do this? I don't know what to say! I can't do this!!! I remember the day I started. Amy & Kelly gently reminded me that I don't have to pick the perfect words...it's just a conversation with God. I nodded, but in my head I thought, "A CONVERSATION WITH GOD!!!!" Hahaha! That's where my journey began...
Now five years later, I'm on the prayer team at church. I've spoken about my journey with prayer and I've even lead some retreat workshops on praying. Praying really is talking to God and being honest with God. (Let's be honest, He knows what's in your heart anyway.)
Anne Lamott says,"My belief is that when you're telling the truth, you're close to God." To me, that means that all prayers aren't pretty words and recitations. Prayer can be messy with tears and pleading and sometimes even yelling (although maybe that's only me.) Anne Lamott wrote a book where she said that prayer is, "...communication from one's heart to God."
Today, I talk to God all the time. When I wake up I start my day by repeating, "thank you, thank you, thank you..." It's wonderful to start the day with a heart full of gratitude. I pray when I read the Bible and devotional books. I pray in writing. I pray in emails to friends. I pray by singing...loudly & poorly. Prayer surrounds me like a hug.
Prayer works. I've been struggling with an issue in my life. I am single and very independent...asking for help is HARD for me. This issue has been worrying me and I've been racking my brain to find a solution. None has appeared. I've prayed for help guide me make the right choices to make it better. Nothing. That's when I realized, I have to pray for God to take this from me. I need to let it go. This is a prayer that I forget, struggle with, and need to get better at. Again Lamott tells this story in her book, "A nun I know once told me she kept begging God to taker her character defects away from her. After years of this prayer, God finally got back to her: I'm not going to take anything away from you, you have to give it to Me."
I remembered. I prayed. I believed. I let go. And I watched... I saw God at work. It's a miracle to watch prayers being answered.
Here's a favorite quote from...
Help, Thanks, Wow
"Prayer means that, in some unique way, we believe we're invited into a relationship with someone who hears us when we speak in silence."
I love to include music on these posts because music so often helps me pray! Here's my favorite song about prayer. It's called Better than a Hallelujah by Amy Grant. When I listen to this song, I feel like it's saying any words are good enough for God. God wants us to show up and pray!