What about prayer?

Posted: May 25, 2011 by Nathan in What About...
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For Christians prayer is a big issue. Not just in the fact that it is a wonderful, God given, tool for our use but also in that it is misunderstood, hard to come to terms with and something that almost all Christians struggle with. Some people seem to have it sorted, they speak and God answers, God speaks and they hear. I must admit this is not the case for the vast majority of people. Prayer is something that most Christians struggle with and wish that they could have a better understanding of. So with that in mind you can understand that I could write several long and very boring books about prayer, so here you will just get the very tip of the ice-berg.

Prayer is part of us building a relationship with God. Just with building a relationship with another humans prayer follows similar lines. We talk to God, but we also listen to Him. That is the part many people miss out. How annoying is it for us when people talk and talk and talk and never listen? God feels the same way. Think about how you talk to friends and then try and relate that to God. If you only spoke to your friends when you wanted something it would put a huge strain on your relationship. Yet so many people only talk to God when they want Him to do something for them. How many people only talk to God when they are in a major crisis or have come to the end of their tether? Yet the best evenings spent with friends never involve the continual asking of favours but consist of sharing stories, passing on our joys, making each other laugh and maybe sharing a trouble or two. Sometimes there are evenings when you need just to talk and have a good friend listen, God is a great listener but he also wants the opportunity to talk and have you listen. As with most things there is a balance that needs to be achieved.

So, how do I even start to pray? Or the Quick Bluffers and Idiots Guide to Praying!!

Practical stuff

Find somewhere quiet.

Remove as many distractions as possible (take the phone of the hook, turn off the computer etc.)

Make yourself comfortable – this may be sitting at a desk, lying on a bed, sitting on the sofa or kneeling – basically however you feel most comfortable (without falling asleep!!)

Preparation

Are you sitting comfortably then we’ll begin!!

Now you’ve found your quiet place it is time to become quiet yourself. Your surroundings maybe quiet but you may still have a hundred and one things racing through your mind. What are you going to cook for tea? Did you lock the front door? As soon as we become quiet our brain seems to go into overload. Everyone has their own way of quietening themselves down. These ways include breathing techniques, focusing on something specific like a candle or cross or even diving straight in to talking to God.

Your first few steps into prayer.

Prayer may be something very new for you. It is bound to feel a bit weird and maybe a little out of your comfort zone. However, you are in control, if it feels too weird stop and maybe try again another day. There are no hard and fast rules when it comes to praying but one thing I would start with is honesty. If things feel weird tell God.

“God, this all feels very strange and I don’t even know if I’m just talking to myself…”

“God the only reason I’m praying is that I’m angry with you, I hate want has happened and fell it is your fault!”

“God I have no idea if you exist or not but I’d like you to show me if you do!”

“God I’m desperate, let’s face it I wouldn’t be praying if I weren’t!”

God loves it when people come to him in honesty. He can take you being angry with Him, blaming Him and having a good old rant!. Just tell Him what you’re feeling. Tell Him if you’re angry, sad, thankful, worried, bored or happy. As I said before talk to him as you would to your best friend. As I also said before spend some time listening to Him as well. If you expect to hear a booming voice you will almost certainly be disappointed. The Bible tells us that God speaks in a small still voice. However he also talks in different ways. He speaks to people through the words in the Bible – in reading the Bible you may find the answer to a question you have or He may make something stand out or you may just find some comfort in the words. God may answer your prayers through circumstances or through someone else. When we become open to god speaking to us he can speak through all sorts of different things.

You may find it difficult to to know what to say at first. Next week we will have a look at some prayers that you can pray just by reading them.

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Comments
  1. Melanie Owen Padilla says:

    Na! Thank you for this lovely, simple, de-mystifying of prayer. Your definition of prayer as being “how we build our relationship with God” is wonderfully comforting. For as long as I have been a Christian, I should have a much better “prayer-life” as they say – though I don’t believe life in prayer is separate from the daily tasks of living. I grew up in a church that measured a person’s worth and worthiness based on what they were doing for God – including how early one would get up int he morning to pray before school or work… “Look at David! He got up three hours early to pray before school and he told 15 friends about Jesus today!” I guess since i grew up feeling un-worthy because I could never measure up to these spiritual super-stars, I always questioned whether or not my prayers were heard, or even good enough. On the other hand, I’ve never had a problem with the ‘pray without ceasing” part – as in prayer as a part of “thought life” as you’re going about your day… That’s always been natural for me. In any case, I am the first one to admit that I resist that “alone time with God” for all of my historical reasons – feeling like I’m putting on a show, or feeling just plain not worthy and questioning whether my words are getting anywhere. The blog post that you wrote today was a wonderful dis-arming for me of those old walls. Thank you.

    • Nathan says:

      Melanie

      I’m really glad you got something from the post and thanks for your encouragement. I believe if we keep prayer simple it becomes less of a mystery and more of a relationship. Big up to you on the prayer without ceasing though – that is something I aim for but sadly fall short of. Anyway what would life be without a challenge!!!!?!?

  2. Darren Dockings says:

    Thanks Nathan, this is something I struggle with and I’ll try those techniques

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