Prayer

The first thing anyone would say about my mom before she got sick was that she was a mighty prayer warrior. My mom loved to pray. Her forte was intercessory prayer. And she loved praying the scriptures. The way she prayed was the way that I had been taught to pray through my parents’ example and through the church. But truth be told, I always struggled with that way of praying. I looked up to my mom for being able to pray like that and for loving it so much, and I thought something was wrong with me because I struggled to pray like that and it wasn’t something I loved to do. I actually found it boring, and wondered if God was as bored as I was with my prayer life.
My mom was always lauding God for answered prayer, but I never heard her talk about unanswered prayer. There had to have been times that her prayers were not answered, but this was not something that was talked about. And honestly, it’s not talked about in the church that much. When it is, there’s always an idea put forth that God has something better in store if He doesn’t answer your prayer. I have found this to be true only sometimes though.
All this to say, I have a hard time petitioning God and having faith that God will answer my prayer, perhaps due to some unanswered prayer I have experienced through the years and just the way things have turned out. I do still try, but it feels flat to me, almost like I’m asking my cat for something. I have found that prayers of supplication and petition cause me to worry more too, so I generally don’t pray like that. I struggle sometimes with whether this is a lack of faith on my part or if I’ve truly found a different way of praying that is okay.
I do trust God though, and I have a rich and fulfilling prayer life. I have found ways to pray that resonate with my soul and that draw me deeper into fellowship and trust of God; it’s just that my prayer life looks different than the ways that believers are typically taught to pray.
To me, prayer is a way of being in life and with God. Day by day, moment by moment. It is going to God as I am, with all of my emotions and messes and laying them down at His feet. It’s accepting life as it comes, not in a fatalistic way, but with grace and compassion. It’s trusting that God is present. Not that He’s in control, or that He’s working something out for good – those things don’t comfort me, whether they be true or not. My comfort comes from knowing that God is with me. When I sin, He sets me back on my feet and says with compassion, “Try again.” When I am angry, He stays through the anger, until I’ve spent myself and then there is just His love. He gives me space when I’m too mad to look at Him, but He never leaves. And when I turn my face back to Him, I find only compassion. He rejoices with me when I rejoice. The darkest of places is where I have seen His light the brightest, and I know that He suffers with me.
Prayer is being comfortable with mystery and okay with not knowing all of the answers. It’s making peace with uncertainty. It’s holding life loosely, knowing that God holds it firmly. It’s trusting that God is not limited to speaking through the Bible alone, and looking for Him where ever I find myself. It’s knowing that God is within me and that I am His beloved child. It’s hoping in God – not that He will always change my situation, but that He will walk beside me no matter the situation, carrying me when needed, and that one day I will see Him face to face, with nothing veiling His glory from my eyes. It’s holding the sacredness of all things, the spark of God light in all and allowing love to pour forth in order to guide those in darkness to the One who loves them perfectly. It’s holding space and compassion for those in my life, wishing them peace, and knowing that ultimately God holds them too.
It has taken me a while to realize that my prayer life and relationship with God doesn’t have to look like anyone else’s, nor does it have to fit a certain prescribed way of being. I no longer feel a sense of duty when it comes to my prayer practices, and actually look forward to my time focused with God.  For anyone out there who struggles with praying “the way you’ve been taught,” know that there are other ways out there.  Seek God and God will come close to you.  I am a contemplative Christian in practice, but I’m not going to lay out my specific practices, because it’s taken me a while of seeking to find the ways I communicate best with God, and these ways may not be helpful for you.  The last thing I want to do is give you another list of “how to pray” advice.  But I do want to encourage you if you’re struggling.  Don’t give up; keep seeking, and most importantly listen for God.

6 thoughts on “Prayer

  1. Love your “wide-open” approach. That gives God the decision about how to answer our prayers. Those answers are so often mysterious and some, never evident to us. But, he always “hangs around”!
    Thanks for sharing…..

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  2. I love your transparency. I think it’s so important in these times for people to see the true Christian, the one who is willing to be honest about our walk. It’s not always easy. We seldom get to understand the whys when prayers are to us, unanswered, or we don’t see movement on our behalf. But praise be to God, for He is Faithful! His ways are higher, His thoughts are higher.
    As for your talking about your mom’s prayer life, the one thing I’m learning is that my walk, even among other intercessors, is going to be different from theirs. We come into one accord, but I am so thankful for the uniqueness of each intercessor I pray with! My relationship with God is unique, just as yours is. Thank God He created us all to pray in the way He taught us.

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  3. I hear you. My faith now is that God is with me, through it all. Our suffering is but for a moment compared to the glory that shall be revealed in its, as St. Paul wrote.

    I am okay with not knowing, and I know life dishes out much that we have no control over, and we can rest in a faith that we are loved, and all is well.

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