Prayer: The less formal the better

by ruthjohnston

G_d wants to hear from you!

That’s it, in the so-called nutshell. What to say and how to say it seems to make many folks very uncomfortable. That’s why I believe the less formal the better, because the more comfortable you are in talking with G_d, the more often you’ll do it, and the more opportunities you’ll have to witness his answers to those prayers.

So how to overcome your anxiety? I’ve outlined a few ideas that I know will help.

First the issue of language! What language does G_d speak? Does he use thou and thee; as if he only understands sixteenth century, proper English?

Uhhhhmmm…. somehow…I…. tend…. to doubt that.

Since he already knows your every thought and desire, doesn’t he already know how you speak, the language & vocabulary you use, the tone? Once you get past your preconceived (most often brought about by holding yourself to a priest’s or minister’s standards, and let’s face it, they’re on stage so I guess they feel it’s important to use the King James Bible version of speech), you’ll start to become more and more comfortable with it.

One thing I do try to keep in mind is to thank him and seek his blessings spontaneously. I have examples of both below.

My hopes for you are that you reach a point where you are so comfortable in your prayer, that it becomes:  just plain old talking to G_d. Yup, just spending time with him and talking like you would a dear friend. Sharing your day, thanking him for any good things you came across, sharing your hopes and of course fears, and all of your desires. When you reach this point, you can begin incorporating prayer throughout the day.

My prayer day goes something like this:

First thing in the morning~~Good morning Father, thank you for a good night’s sleep. Just like that, simple and to the point.  Or perhaps: Good morning Father, I’m a bit tired right now, I didn’t sleep so well, but you already know that (subtle chuckle), help me to make the most of today and not focus on being tired . Help me to remember my blessings and guide me in your goals for my best day possible.

As I shower: Thank you father for this modern convenience, for hot and cold running water and for a clean towel to dry.

A bit later on my drive to work or errands or wherever: Oh, look at that cloud formation; thank you Father for the ever changing beauty and your hand in everything around me.

Later, on Facebook I may read of a friend in need; perhaps a health or emotional crisis. My prayer may then goes something like this: Father, help Betty in her time of need. Surround her with your healing powers and give her the strength to overcome this difficulty, one day at a time. Make your presence known to her and help her to feel your love now.

Now, in keeping with the whole informality theme, my prayers are not rituals. I don’t thank him for the same things every day. I thank him and ask him, for things as they occur to me. My nighttime prayers are a bit more ritualistic though, as I do often thank him for many of the same things: my home, my family, the food on my table, but even then I mix it up, as I really do just say what I’m feeling.

Now for the issue that may cause a stumble or two. Asking for something, especially if, in your eyes, it is huge. I personally used to struggle with how big is too big, and if I don’t get an answer, will it corrode my faith? Here’s how I overcome that. (Yes I said overcome, not overcame, as it’s a constant struggle to work towards super faith).

I put it all in his hands and admit my own shortcomings in the faith department. I say: Father, Jason’s cancer has returned, and I ask you for your healing powers. Now Father, I have total faith in your ability to heal him completely and I ask that you hear that part of my prayer and ignore any lingering doubts that I may have. I don’t doubt your ability or power in any way, however I know that as a human I am flawed and no matter how much I want to have complete faith, I faulter and sometimes backslide. So with the little mustard seed of faith that I do have, I come to you and humbly ask you to heal, strengthen and anoint him with your loving presence, so that he may in turn share his story of healing with others. I also ask that you continue working with me on strengthening my faith. Amen.

A couple more things: When you ask him for something, ask and walk away. Someone once shared this story with me in relating to asking G_d for something. We are often like a small child with a broken toy. We take it to our father and ask him to fix it, and when he hasn’t finished in 20 minutes we go and take it back—-to fix it ourselves. It does require a bit of faith, but ask and then try to just turn it over; give it to him completely.

Details count! G_d wants to know exactly what’s on your mind. Sure, we both know he already knows, but he wants you to form those specific thoughts and requests. I firmly believe you should pray for help in finding a way to make your rent payment next month, not just ask for more money.

My final thought for today: G_d answers in his time, in his way, which ALWAYS, ALWAYS, ALWAYS works out to be the best timing and the most perfect answer. I used to always have a preconceived idea of how/when I wanted him to answer a particular prayer request; what the outcome should be. Funny thing is, it was rarely the way that it turned out and though it often took me a day or more to see God’s hand in it, eventually it would hit me….. OOOOHHHHH, I SEE what happened here! Hmpphhh! This didn’t turn out the way I asked or expected!!!  IT  TURNED  OUT  MUCH,  MUCH  BETTER  AND NOTHING  SHORT  OF  A  MIRACLE!

Then I’d give thanks (with a subtle, knowing chuckle).

Keep the faith my friend!