Monday, April 22, 2013

how to pray

"I asked God for strength, that I might achieve; I was made weak, that I might learn humbly to obey. I asked God for health, that I might do greater things; I was given infirmity, that I might do better things. I asked for riches, that I might be happy; I was given poverty, that I might be wise. I asked for power, that I might have the praise of men; I was given weakness, that I might feel the need of God. I asked for all things, that I might enjoy life; I was given life, that I might enjoy all things. I got nothing that I asked for--but everything that I had hoped for. Almost despite myself, my unspoken prayers were answered. I am among men, most richly blessed."
 -Unknown

Lately, I feel like God has been lovingly nudging me to re-think how I pray.  I've never been what I would consider a "good pray-er."  Too often I skip out on extended prayer time with God and if I do manage to set aside a block of time specifically to pray, I too frequently find myself speaking to God one moment, and pondering what to make for dinner the next.  Or I often go through a laundry-list of prayers, and get frustrated when some of the "big ones" go unanswered. 

Rarely in prayer do I ever find myself listening to what God wants to say to me.

I am ashamed to admit that I have never really thought about listening to God during my prayer time.  I mean, it's time for my prayers, right?  So surely I should do all the talking?  Wrong.  Prayer is a conversation with God.  It is not just a time for listing grievances - it is a time of communion with my Maker.

The ultimate objective of prayer is not to have my requests answered.  Half of the time, my requests aren't even what I should be asking for in the big scheme of things.  That's why I love the quote above so much.  Almost despite myself, my unspoken prayers were answered.  He knows what is best for me, even if I don't know what's best for myself.  Time spent in serious, devoted prayer (and silence waiting in His presence) can only help me to more clearly see what God's plan is for me and how I can grow more like him each day.  While there is a lot of power in speaking my heart out loud to the Lord, sometimes I just need to stop rambling talking, and start listening.

I encourage you to join me in spending thirty minutes each day this week in complete solitude with God. If you run out of things to talk to him about, that's ok.  Just spend the rest of the time in silence, asking Him to speak to your heart.  After all, He is the best friend you will ever have.  No one listens better than He does, and no one can give you what you desire like He can.  Spend time in quiet thoughtfulness with Him, and He will give you everything that your heart has hoped for - even if it wasn't on your "prayer list."

I asked for all things, that I might enjoy life; I was given life, that I might enjoy all things. I got nothing that I asked for--but everything that I had hoped for.  

Stop talking.  Start listening.  Let God speak to your heart.

Prayer points us beyond ourselves,
beyond our friendships,
to the deepest realization of all:
that God made us to be lovers of God.
He is at the very heart of our hearts.
-James Houston









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