Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Ten Tips on Prayer...

Lately, I've been taking stock of my prayer life.  As is typical of a life with God, I have many peaks and valleys.  Lately I seem to be dipping into the latter, so I figured I should turn some attention to ways I can grow in this area.  A book I started reading awhile back but never finished popped into my head: Spiritual Direction by Robert F. Morneau (if you've been reading my blog for awhile, you may know that I love this author!  As far as I'm concerned, everything he writes is pure gold).  Although it's a great book, its very dense,which is probably why I've never finished it!

Anyway, I pulled out my notes on the portion I had read so far (yes, nerd that I am, I take notes when I read!).  The content is great that I promised myself to pick the book back up and try to finish it.  With any success I'll have lots more goodies to share in the future!  But for now, I thought I'd share some of what I've learned thus far.

10 Tips on Prayer:

1)  Prayer is loving attention to God.  Therefore, it is meaningless when we are distracted. 

 Hmmm...I need to work on this one.  I too easily find myself becoming distracted during prayer. Often when I sit down to pray I think, " I'm feeling a bit hungry--let me grab a snack first."  Or, "Oh, let me just check my email first."  Thankfully I've become more aware of this lately, and I intend to work on his one!

2)  Prayer is only as good as the love that is put into it.

Our words ring hollow without love in our hearts. And love cannot be hurried.  You can't just rush into prayer.  By its very nature it is slow.  Sometimes I think about what else we might be missing out on by hurrying through our days.  Lessons in life are definitely learned slow.

3)  Prayer requires self-control of body and spirit.  Therefore, a person who is satiated on earthly things is no longer responsive to God.  We can help bring clearer focus on God through :fasting, silence and waiting.

 I find this a challenge in this culture of so. much. noise.  Our attention is pulled in every direction,  our social media-satiated culture being one of the here and now. What's happening on twitter right now?  What's looking interesting on Pinterest?  Have I gotten any new texts? Waiting becomes increasingly difficult when we find ourselves able to be entertained pretty much constantly, with information and technology right at our fingertips.  Taking a cursory glance around a waiting room, you'll find a  sea of dimly-lit faces staring down at their phones.  (The magazines on the table don't even get picked up anymore!) It just causes me to wonder what might be gained, if we all sat with silence more often.God speaks in silence.

4)  We absolutely must bring our true selves to God, just as we are.  Do not be tempted to hide parts of yourself.

God knows us.  He knows what's going on in our minds and our lives.  And He loves us no matter what.  He wants to help us.  But there's no point in praying if you don't show up.

5)  Make God the focus of prayer--not yourself.  Try to transcend the self-centered anxieties that crowd our minds.

There is a time for petition, confession and repentance of course.  But let's not forget to also make time to simply worship Him.  Take time to adore, with a thankful heart.  When I do this, I find myself truly transformed.  This is not the case when I just mentally unload all of my worries and struggles, without getting to the other stuff--the God-praising stuff.

6)  Try to create a sense of reverence, wonder and awe in your prayer.  Do not be afraid to be child-like.  Allow yourself to fill with wonder of life and of the universe.  Do not place your focus on man-made things, but the things of God.

Be child-like.  Yes!  As a mom it's so easy to see how awe-struck a child's eyes become at the things we so often take for granted.  Simple things... like the beauty of bubbles in sunlight or the feathered wisp of clouds across the sky.  Take time to really see the beauty He has made for us!

7)  Know that God's activity in prayer is more important than our own.  Experiencing God through prayer is a gift from Him.

This is an important one for me to keep in mind, because I sometimes think I have to be this way or that in order to have a powerful prayer experience.  But simply making an effort is enough.  God will meet us where we are.

8)  There is no one way to pray.  We each have our own unique path to God.

No two prayers are ever alike.  Each one is uniquely our own, each experience one of a kind, leading us where we need to go.  Yes.

9)  Prayer leads to intimacy with God, and therefore to intimacy with everyone and everything.

I love this--that prayer leads to greater intimacy with everyone around us.  And of course it's true--when our hearts are transformed by God we are more attuned to everything and everyone else.  As we grow, we're better able to serve others-to listen better, to love better. Our hearts are elevated which helps us look outside ourselves to see a world in need.

10)  Prayer can happen at all times, in all things so long as we keep God with us.  Be like a sunflower that follows the sun all day, pointing its colorful head to orient toward that shiny orb in the sky.

I love this--be like a sunflower!  I want to remember this when my teething toddler is cranky or I realize mid-recipe that I'm out of eggs.  To keep God with us at all times and in all things--what a challenge this is for me.  But what an amazing goal to have!

I hope you were able to find something here to help you in you prayer life.  I know I will be working on all of these things.  May we all become like sunflowers, following God all day long!

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