Thursday, September 29, 2005

Prayer

I've been thinking a lot about prayer the past week or so. I've said before that I haven't really been able to pray. But I'm not so sure about that now. Maybe I have been praying all along and didn't realize that's what I was doing.

For instance, I've been listening to a lot of praise music, and even though I can't always sing the words of the song, my heart and head go into this dialogue of sorts. I do this daily, and the more I think about it the more I'm realizing that praise music is a form of prayer for me.

Then there's this site. Most of the stuff that I write about is my internal struggle. It's the stuff that I think about almost every waking minute. And, in thinking and writing about it, this site has almost become like a prayer journal. It's a place where I am writing down my questions and struggles and realizations. God knows what's going on inside of my head, and as I type the words out onto this little screen, my questions and feelings are intended for Him, too. I'm not looking to you guys for answers, I'm looking to Him, hoping that maybe He will use you guys (and He does) to help answer or validate some of what I'm going through.

What I'm also realizing is how my prayers are changing. It is becoming more and more difficult for me to sit down or lay in bed and structure a "Dear God..." kind of prayer. Those prayers feel canned, fake; too thought-out to be real conversation with Him. If I really want Him to know how I'm feeling and what I'm thinking, I want what He hears to be raw. He can handle it. I think what that means is that prayer is becoming more of me. It's not something that I "do" on occassion when I'm consciously thinking about it, it's something that I'm doing as I go throughout my day, often when I don't even realize I'm doing it.

My preacher as been talking a lot about prayer lately in my counseling group, and I didn't take too much of it in at first, but this week I can't stop thinking about it. How often are your prayers situational? Mine are almost always about the situations that I find myself in. Maybe this isn't what God intended. Maybe God wants more out of us than requests about how we want Him to handle our situations. Maybe, instead, He wants us praying above our situations. Not the problem itself, but about how are character is shaped through our problem. Maybe He wants less of, "God, heal me," and more of, "God, mold me and use me in spite of my illness." Maybe it's only when we have prayed these prayers and allowed Him to work on us...when we have died to so much of ourselves that we look more like Christ than like our former selves, that's when we gain real, authentic communion with Him.

God, I hope that's where I'm headed.......

8 Comments:

At 8:16 PM, Blogger Laurel Makepeace O'Keefe said...

"Maybe, instead, He wants us praying above our situations. Not the problem itself, but about how are character is shaped through our problem. Maybe He wants less of, "God, heal me," and more of, "God, mold me and use me in spite of my illness." Maybe it's only when we have prayed these prayers and allowed Him to work on us...when we have died to so much of ourselves that we look more like Christ than like our former selves, that's when we gain real, authentic communion with Him"


Thank you so much for putting words to something I have felt for a long time...I like your site very much and I find it inspiring and comforting, You have an authentic spirituality and strength that is rare, I will be checking back in often,
Please continue to be good to yourself!

 
At 5:24 AM, Blogger James said...

Amanda, I think you have hit home what I have struggled with for a while. I never felt comfortable with "Dear God" prayers, and I think while I never really pinned it down I think you are right, that to some of us they feel kind of fake. This has been a constant nagging thing for me, having a lack of a defined prayer life, but perhaps I've only felt that way because I just couldn't get into that structured prayer routine.

When I do pray now, I do not generally ask for direct things, but I follow more along the "guide me and strengthen me" path. I try to be open to what I think God wants me to do, but I also need the strength of will to act upon it.

I've been so busy at work I've been neglecting my own blog recently, perhaps its time to sit down and reflect a bit.

 
At 6:42 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I feel that God is using you, Amanda, to express what is in many of our hearts. I am edified regularly by your blog because you have a delightful way of writing "gut-honesty." I consider my prayer-relationship with God much like my communication-relationship with my own earthly husband. Sometimes we schedule "formal" talks, sometimes they just happen, sometimes they are heated, many times we laugh, sometimes almost non-verbal impressions transfer between us, and sometimes they are written on paper. Frequently there are gaps and interruptions in our communication, but our choice to stay in love remains strong. Always we are learning more and more about each other--what we like or don't like or need to change or accept about ourselves and/or our partner. God and I travel a similar path on the road to falling more and more in love with each other every day.
Stay the course, Amanda. I know God is hearing every utterance of your heart and heading you to that authentic communion on a deeper level each day of your journey together. May God bless you a bunch!!!! :)

 
At 7:53 AM, Blogger Andrea said...

I like where you are heading, Amanda. Remember that the Bible says when we do not even know what to pray for, the Holy Spirit prays and groans on our behalf. HE KNOWS.

Much of my prayer, or quiet time, is very informal. Often I talk out loud to Him, as I have found that keeps my mind from wandering as much. And when He speaks to me, I have no doubt. The key for me is quietness.

I'm praying for you!

 
At 12:57 PM, Blogger Sarah said...

"Pray without ceasing" -- I think you're modeling that for all of us.

You're the best.

 
At 1:19 PM, Blogger Debi said...

Amanda,

I too, struggle with prayer and the "always asking for something" aspect of it. What I've started doing (just as recently as this summer, in fact) is focusing my prayer on others. I pray for the needs of others - and I state those needs, if I'm aware of them. If not, then I ask Him to provide what the person I'm praying for needs, as He knows their needs better than anyone else. I've stopped focusing prayer on myself - and it's helped me. I'm still a "work in progress" and am also reminded about Andrea's comment above, that the Holy Spirit prays on our behalf as he knows our needs even when we don't.

I just got back from vacation, which is why I haven't posted on my blog recently.

 
At 6:42 PM, Blogger Amanda said...

Thanks for all of the comments, guys.

My final for my class is Wednesday. Hopefully after that I'll be back to posting more often.

 
At 2:33 PM, Blogger Preston said...

I think that you and several of your commenters are moving toward a more wise, holistic view of prayer. Prayer is not a faucet that we turn on with the words "Dear God" and off with the words "In Jesus' Name Amen." Prayer is a positioning of oneself so that we are able to receive that which God will give us. I must learn to wait patiently on God and be ready to receive what He would give or teach me.

 

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