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How Do You Pray?

Prayer is intimidating. I'm reminded of this whenever our family gathers for a meal and someone asks, "who's going to bless the food?" Everybody's eyes drop. Our bodies get real still. Any sudden movements or eye contact might draw too much attention. We might get called on to pray.

Perhaps prayer is intimidating because we haven't considered how to pray. This is an ancient problem. Jesus' followers — men and women who lived 2,000 years ago — asked Jesus to teach them how to pray. Perhaps if we utilized a model, we might feel a bit more comfortable in prayer.

How to pray?

There's good news: history has left us with no shortage of models for prayer. Certainly, there's a model for you… or a model for nearly any mood you might find yourself in.

Feeling lost in the busy-ness of life? Consider a contemplative practice like Centering Prayer or Breath Prayer.

Some people pray by drawing or journaling.

Movement and silence can lead us into a time of prayer.

Feeling challenged? Consider Rev. Brian Tillman's thoughts:

"If I were having a tough time and struggling with anger and frustration, I might pray for God to 'make me peaceful.' I might pray for God to make me more willing to listen, rather than to speak. I might pray for God to make me more joyful. I might ask God to make me productive in my efforts to bring justice to God's people."

Feeling a lack for your own words? The Psalms are written prayers meant to be shared. Read some. Or, there are the words that Jesus taught to his disciples, which may sound familiar to many of us today:

Our Father,
Who art in heaven,
Hallowed be thy name.
Thy kingdom come.
Thy will be done,
On earth as it is heaven.
Give us our daily bread,
And forgive our trespasses
as we forgive those who trespass against us.
And lead us not into temptation,
But deliver us from evil.

Many times, prayer is simply spontaneous conversation between the self and God. It need not include flowery words or even a specific formula. The best forms of prayer are often those that we feel — and those that leave us feeling a little bit differently about ourselves or our perspective on the world.

"God hears your every thought, whether you dress it up with 'Thee' and 'Thou' or not."

― Catherine Richmond, Spring for Susannah

It's like Brian Tillman said, "And After I pray those words and say 'Amen,' then I put my feet behind my prayers. I do this by faith. If I've prayed to be peaceful, then I move in the direction of peace even with my words. If I've prayed to be more productive, then I focus my efforts and move distractions out of the way."

Written by Ryan Dunn, Minister of Online Engagement for Rethink Church.

[Posted May 2, 2018]

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