A Different Way To Pray

I am learning more about prayer lately than I have in a long time.  

The interesting thing about prayer is that occasionally, something changes everything you thought you knew when you feel you have it figured out.  

I'm not very structured in my prayer life, which is probably not something that a pastor should admit, but there you go.  

I also don't have any formulaic prayers, which I say regularly unless you count "Help!" "Thanks!" and "Wow!"  

By the way, I shamelessly borrowed those prayers/words from author Anne Lamott, who identified them as the three essential prayers we all pray. 

But as I mentioned, I am learning something new about prayer, and it's impacting my daily life, which is surprising—at least to me. 

Not to sound jaded, but since I do the whole "professional Christian" thing for a living, I'm often shocked when I have experiences that jolt me with spiritual energy.   

The other day, I read a quote from a devotional book by Jackie Hill-Smith, which I've been reading, and it encapsulated my new-ish feelings about prayer, particularly at the beginning of the day.  

So then, to become more prayerful, we have to be humble. To be humble, we need to be honest.  Each morning, tell the truth.  The truth being, you are needy even when it doesn't feel like it.  Then, turn toward God and pray.  

I've been doing prayer lately, as the author describes it.  I tell myself and God the truth every morning that I can't do my life that day without God being in it. 

And then I say something like, "Lord, help me." Sometimes, I say it out loud, especially when I swing my legs off the bed and listen to my joints pop and lock as I try to stand up.  

But most of the time, it's just a fleeting thought, a brief acknowledgment.  

If I had to pick one of Anne Lamott's categories, I'd say that most of my prayers fall under the "Help!" category.  

I've encountered a few folks in my career who confessed how they felt they could never pray for themselves, only others. 

Just so you know, if you are one of the many people who loathe to pray for themselves, there's no shame in it.  

But there are also times when my prayers for "Help!" are combined with prayers of "Thanks!"  

We can experience a sense of gratitude when we realize that our prayers for help and acknowledgment that we can't do life without God are met with grace and love.  

All that I described to you can happen in seconds every morning.  

You don't need to abject yourself before God on your knees next to your bed with your hands folded and your head bowed as you spend between 15-30 minutes praying out loud in the 17th-century language of the King James Bible  

(Oh God, thou art so mighty, I prithee do not smite your servant with thine strong right arm...)

All that's needed is your assent to turn your day over to God.  That, my friends, is enough.  Set your intentions and then follow them.  

Try it for a few mornings and see how it makes you feel. You might be surprised by the path your day takes and the presence of the Spirit you encounter. 

May it be so, and may the grace and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with us always. Amen.  


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