[on prayer – being real with God]
DISCLAIMER: the following thoughts are about my personal prayer journey. I am not trying to tell anyone what should be done or how to pray. These are my reflections.
The world is full of so-called prayer warriors who are prayer-ignorant. They’re full of formulas and programs and advice, peddling techniques for getting what you want from God.
Matthew 6:7, the Message
I did mention Tevye’s prayers yesterday – so straightforward and to the point and I got to think about my own prayer journey.
I guess the journey started a long time ago when I just went to Church. I was six (almost right after the Soviet Union collapsed) and of course one of the first things I was taught was the Lord’s Prayer. I so clearly remember going to bed each night and reciting the prayer in whisper to myself and then singing Amazing Grace and Silent Night (those were my favorite songs when I was a kid and still are).
Sometime later, I realized that I am just saying the words so I tried to think about what I am saying.
The next stage was when I would just try to remember all the blessings and good things that happened to me that day. I would thank God for every single thing and fall asleep in the process.
Sometime during my teen years, I fell into the trap of using smart words. I knew a lot and I thought that if I would use more smart words then everyone would think that I am strong in my faith. Everyone around me obviously thought the same, so we all got together for prayer meetings and prayed using the “high and exalted words.” I kept thinking like those people described in the passage above – those who thought that there are certain words you can use for God to hear you better.
A time came when I got tired of inventing ways how to pray in public, so I stopped altogether. Whenever someone would ask me to pray, I would say my prayer quickly and finish it with “Amen.” I was tired of living a double prayer life – when at home, I could TALK to God and when I was with someone else I felt pressured to… use words. It did not make sense.
I guess the change in me started when I was teaching kids about prayer. I listened to myself saying “The prayer is a talk with God – just like you talk with your parents and friends” and thought to myself that I should listen to my own teaching.
Being an imaginative person, every time someone prayed in “high words” so to speak, I tried not to smile when I imagined God looking at that person thinking “Just say what you want. Talk to me. Don’t just use words.” Now, I do not have anything against people who can pray that way – I guess it is just not my way. I get lost in words and instead of reveling in the Presence of Almighty I am struggling to understand everything that is being said.
That’s when I got a second wind in my prayer journey. Some may think my prayers sound childish, but then that was my intent. I am His kid. And you know… it feels amazing to finally TALK to Him. Just like Tevye.
Grinning (or laughing) at God’s sense of humor and sometimes even frowning at His ways (yet knowing that He will make sense of it all in due timing).
Thanking Him for every little thing, maybe as simple as hot water in the shower in the morning.
Telling Him of my problems and asking Him for help.
Being real with God instead of trying to pretend that I am so smart.