I remember being on a retreat in college when the leader told us to find a spot and take an hour for quiet reflection – pray, read and listen. I remember taking my bible upstairs and sprawling out on the floor in the hallway. I was ready for God. I closed my eyes to pray, and it was like I lost all knowledge of the English language. I did not know what to pray about, and you know what I heard….silence. DEAFENING-SILENCE. I looked around at others who seemed to be so in tuned and plugged in at that very moment, and all I could hear were the crickets outside. And it wasn’t one of those normal quiet times we experience on a daily basis. I’m talking about it being so quiet that I felt that my hearing heightened in an effort to hear anything at all. I was experiencing hearing that of Spiderman. But still nothing….
Prayer continues to be a struggle for me. Quieting my mind enough to truly invite God in can be difficult. I feel that when praying, I can find myself too focused on getting it right, that I don’t give myself enough time to listen. Like, truly listen. I find myself not knowing what to say or feeling selfish when my prayers have a lot to do with just me. And don’t even get me started on praying out loud! That is an entirely different struggle for me. Let’s just put it this way…When I think about having to pray out loud in front of people, I am overcome with the feeling that I am going to vomit from nerves!
However, I’ve slowly come to the realization that my conversations with God do not need to consist of scripted prayers that are well crafted and articulated with the utmost theological precision. They should be honest, raw and from the heart. After all, there is no one more capable of handling our raw and disorganized feelings than our Creator. “Rather, we can engage with God by bringing to Him the things that we actually feel. And we can do so with whatever words come to us in the moment,” (Relevant Magazine). Keeping that in mind, prayer doesn’t seem like such a daunting thing. Prayer is a conversation, rather than a time where I need to plead my case. And if I miss something or find myself distracted, I rest in the fact that God knows what’s in my heart, even if I can’t exactly put it into words.
To end with, very recently, I’ve been trying to focus on and make time for the discipline of prayer. In an effort to set the tone for the day ahead, I have been trying to start and end my days with prayer. When I say that, I don’t mean that my alarm goes off, and I immediately slip down to my knees for the next 30 minutes. Some days, it’s as simple as sitting up and saying, “Praise to You. Thank You for this day. Use me today.”