At our church we recieve a weekly email giving ideas of things to pray for. This past week our Pastor, Amanda, started with these words:
Whether you pray in the morning or the evening, for a long time or in short spurts, with words or in silence, off the cuff or with ancient words, alone or with others, remember that:
"The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus."
- From our friend, Paul, in Philippians 4:5a-7
I really needed to hear those words, and they have stayed with me throughout the past few days.
Often when I think of my "prayer life" I have felt discouraged. I am not a warrior of prayer that finds it possible to dedicate large chunks of time to prayer. When I pray it is often just in some of the ways that Amanda described it - in short spurts, alone and without the right words.
But a few years ago I started thinking of prayer not as daily requirement of the Christian life, but more a part of walking with God, living in awareness of Him. Prayer sometimes means purposely stopping and laying my heart out before Him. Prayer sometimes means crying out in the intensity of a moment for help, for guidance. Prayer sometimes means being filled with endless words describing His awesome character and faithfulness, and sometimes it means being quiet and just resting in Him. Prayer is sometimes a quick remembrance or sometimes a long discussion.
He is not judging me based on how I pray. He is near; He cares. He is filled with joy when I come to Him, talk with Him, listen to Him, trust Him enough to ask Him for help.
Prayer is talking with God about what's on my heart, and talking with God about what's on His heart. Asking for Him to be present in my pain, my joy, my questions. Asking to be present with Him in His work, His love, His story-telling.