Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Praying properly

I don't think I pray the right way.

In fact, I'm pretty sure I don't pray properly.

Prayer is a tough thing for me.  If I think about it long enough, I'd have to say I've never been very good at prayer.

If I pray at all, it usually happens when I close my eyes to fall asleep.  This is when all my biggest fears rise to the forefront of my consciousness.  Then I go into begging mode.  God, please do this...  God, please do that...  God, please don't let this happen.  God, help me not to be afraid.  I'm not sure this is the way we are supposed to pray.

I know Jesus gave us a model for prayer when he taught the disciples the Lord's Prayer in Matthew 6:9-13.  I try to pray the model.  I try to pray by recognizing who God is and all the power he has and that he is my creator.  I try to pray by remembering that God is listening to me and just by the very act of prayer, I am honoring him.  I try to remember to confess my sins.  I know having unconfessed sin in my life can block my access to the almighty, but I don't always remember to do this.  In fact, I almost never remember to do this.  As far as asking for my daily bread, well... I usually ask for a whole lot more.  I know asking for and receiving my daily bread, should be enough for me.  I shouldn't be greedy and ask for more than I need each day, but I do.  I'm worried about my future, sometimes.  I'm worried about my son's future, almost all the time.  So I pray for more than my daily bread.  I pray for security.  I think this is probably not what I should be praying for.  I want security on this Earth.  I know this is not what we are supposed to desire, but my flesh wants a house and food and clothing (btw, I'd like wifi, health care, and an occasional vacay, too).  And I want it for the rest of my life.  I pray to be a good person.  I don't want to sin against God, but I do.  And, when I pray not to sin, I'm already thinking, "you know, I'm gonna sin.  I just know it."  I pray for God to heal people.  And then I sometimes couch it with, "guide the surgeon's hands." 

This is the struggle.  I want to pray the way Jesus wants me to pray, but I want to pray for the things I want, too.  I want people I love to get better, not suffer, and all that good stuff.  I want people I don't like to, well...  I want them not to suffer either, but I'm not as emphatic.

As I consider my prayer efforts and whether or not I'm "doing it" right or not, I consider this; I'm praying.  I believe God is hearing my prayer.  I may not always believe he is answering my prayer, but I believe he hears it.  I believe he forgives me of my sins when I remember to confess them.  I believe he wants me to confess all my sins, but he knows how forgetful (and full of rationalizations) I am.  As I consider what prayer is, I consider this; prayer is my opportunity to honor God.  When I do it, I'm acting in faith.  When I don't, I'm acting on my own.

I've got to tell you, it's tough being a Calvinist.  There are so many "right ways" and "wrong ways."  One Sunday I listened to a sermon that essentially said, if you don't end a prayer "In Jesus name, Amen," God will not hear your prayer.  There must be something in the bible about praying in Jesus' name.  Should I kneel?  Should I raise my hands or fold them?  Should my eyes be closed or can I keep them open?  Between the actions of my body and the desires of my heart and the thoughts in my head, I find myself wondering how to pray. 

I know prayer isn't like making an incantation or a recipe for success.  I know if I don't do it right, God's will will still be done, on Earth as it is in Heaven.  Maybe the adage, practice makes perfect, fits with prayer.  Maybe the more often I pray, the better I'll get at it.

Linking with Emily at Imperfect Prose on Thursday.  Our cue was Believe.

130.  Accepting God's forgiveness and allowing myself to be forgiven
131.  Getting a good night of sleep
132.  Believing God is watching over my son, now that he lives on his own
133.  Feeling the Holy Spirit drawing me back to attendance in a church on Sunday mornings
134.  My health (I really need to stop taking this for granted and get a little exercise) 


  1. sorry i have been amiss the last few days...discus doesnt show up at work...

    you know i think the only way you could not pray properly is to be dishonest...i think in the end god wants our honest communication...and our willingness to listen and not just fill the space called prayer with a bunch of words...

  2. I love your heart. I don't think we have to pray so fancy-fussy, especially all the time, else we wouldn't be able to pray w/o ceasing (I Thes 5:17). But maybe you shouldn't listen to me; I'm pretty sure I'm not a Calvinist, anymore.

  3. there are so many insightful books on prayer.  the writings of the mystics who experience God in
    good luck. keep praying!!!

  4. I don't think there's any "right" way to pray - just open your heart, I think.  And I wonder how they know that your prayer is not heard if you don't say "in Jesus's name"?  My Baptist mother always said that, too.

  5. I have always felt that prayer was just the name for when we talk to God. Sometimes I need the words of prayers like "Our Father" because I am finding it difficult to speak my heart and I need to bring it back to Him. But mostly, God just wants to hear truth, to know that we acknowledge Him. He just loves us all so much. :) 
    I love how our beliefs bring us all to God in different ways, but I believe too, with all of my heart, that he just wants us to come. Period. 

  6. Happy Girl, you just said out loud what so many of us wrestle with deep in our hearts. And, yes, I believe God is delighted by our imperfect attempts to pray--our belief that we want to do it and believe it is powerful, but also know our own weaknesses. And, as a fellow Calvinist I agree--being a Calvinist can really mess with you.

    Nice post, my friend!

  7. oh, friend.  i have felt this way.  like i'm not doing it right.

    maybe, just maybe, God is not as concerned with the form as He is the heart, and if we come to Him in all honesty, we are following the spirit of Jesus' prayer, if not the letter.

    so often i think if we'd just lay down all our stuff and let Him love us, well, we'd be giving Him the greatest gift of all.

    love the way you open your heart here.  i see in you what He sees - beauty.


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