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prayerpic.jpgThere are so many forms and kinds of prayers and I enjoy experiencing all of them!  I love the silent, intimate prayer where no words are spoken and I simply sit with eyes closed, heart open and wait for God to speak to me.  I also love those old fashioned “everyone-gather-round-and-lay-hands-on-you” kinds of prayers that I grew up on.  The ones that make you feel like the spiritual troupes have been rounded up and the heavens have been moved on your behalf.  They’re powerful!

Prayers can be long or short.  What is important is the spirit in which they are offered.  My husband says his first real prayer was a simple three word sentence, “God, help me.”  Although he was a premed college student at the time, there were no intellectual phrases or complicated sentences.  Just a heart that was sincerely and truly asking for divine help.  And God answered his prayer.

Prayers can be long or short.  What is important is the spirit in which they are offered.

I love hearing the innocence and honesty of a child’s prayer.  Because they’re not concerned with impressing anyone, their prayers are unfiltered and full of faith.  When my children were small I remember asking them to pray for me if I was sick. The sweetness and sincerity of their prayers soothed both my body and my soul.

My dad was a song writer as well as being a pastor and sometimes his most heartfelt prayers would end up as a song.  I believe often for creative people their art is a form of prayer.  My good friend, Melanie, for example, is a potter for whom the experience of fashioning a piece of clay into something beautiful is a meaningful spiritual experience.  Once on a prayer retreat with her in the Blue Ridge Mountains, I suggested that we each “paint our prayers”.  Although mine admittedly resembled the art work of a fifth grader, Melanie completely saw and understood my heart’s desire in the prayer I had painted.  And I believe those brushstrokes were painted straight onto the heart of God that day.

My mother was gifted in the art of intercessory prayer.  For those not familiar with the term, this is when we pray on behalf of someone else’s needs as though they were our own.  When she had someone on her heart she would plead as passionately for them as if she were begging for her own life!  As a child I remember hearing the urgency in her voice and seeing the tears fall from her face as she spoke those names and needs in desperation before her God.  She prayed with such power and persuasion that my friends would often say they thought she had a direct line to God!  I believe it’s possible she did.

Hearing those precious names spoken in prayer by someone else with perhaps added details that I had not even considered always builds my faith and often reduces me to tears!

Our first pastor as a married couple (and for the next 15 years) was W.L. Rodgers of Louisville, KY.  He was the first to introduce to us the concept of a 24-hour prayer chain.  He would often ask the members of our church family to choose an hour and pray for that entire hour for the particular request we had collectively embraced.  If you were the one in need, imagine the comfort and reassurance it would bring knowing SOMEONE was praying for you continuously around the clock!  

My friend, Jill Hamilton, grew up Catholic and as an adult was constantly adding to her armory of prayer possibilities.  She had learned about “soaking prayer” from a church in California and wanted to share the concept with her friends here in Arkansas.  We met at her home and one would sit in the middle surrounded by the rest of us but instead of praying out loud or using any words, we simply let our hearts pray as soft background music filled the air.  The one being prayer for literally sat and “soaked” in the presence of our prayers almost like soaking in a tub of warm, soothing water.  It was a very moving and meaningful experience and one I have used on my own since that time.

This is my third year to be a part of a Grandmothers In Prayer group which meets for one hour each Friday expressly to pray for our grandchildren.  Two prayer practices which are always a part of this hour are praying scripture over our grandchildren and praying in agreement with a prayer partner.

It’s very powerful to speak a scripture out loud with your loved one’s name inserted in the lines.  It personalizes and validates the impact of God’s promises for those who mean so much to you.  Because of this I have begun praying scriptures for all of my children and grandchildren in my prayer time at home.  

The other practice, praying in agreement, is another powerful prayer tool.  Halfway through our time together we split up into pairs and share our prayer needs with each other.  After I pray specifically for my family members my prayer partner will pray for them as well.  Hearing those precious names spoken in prayer by someone else with perhaps added details that I had not even considered always builds my faith and often reduces me to tears!  It’s a sweet and special time I look forward to each week.

As someone who loves to write, I began prayer journaling many years ago.  I love going back looking at some of my older journals and seeing all of the prayers that have been answered and the sometimes surprising ways God has orchestrated His provisions.  It’s exciting and encouraging to journal your faith journey.  One friend I know says the most important thing she will leave her family is the huge stack of prayer journals where she has prayed for them through the years.  Can you imagine the impact of seeing your name written page after page, year after year by someone who loved you enough to do that for you?   What a unique and valuable inheritance.

Some years ago I was at a women’s retreat and we were given an unusual assignment.  We were asked to write a letter to God followed by one written from God to us.   We had a time limit and were asked not to edit our thoughts or our words but to simply write whatever came to our minds.  Both assignments proved to be very revealing.

Can you imagine the impact of seeing your name written page after page, year after year by someone who loved you enough to do that for you?

As the women were writing the first letter I began to hear sniffles around the room while boxes of Kleenex were being passed among them.  It occurred to me that many of these women had been carrying deep pain which they had not allowed escape or expression for perhaps years and as they wrote freely, that pain was pouring through the pen and onto the page.  Some of them said later they didn’t even know the depth of the sadness in their souls until they began to write.  I believe it was prayer in its purest, rawest form.

After we all had time to collect ourselves and regroup, the leader then asked us to right the letter FROM God TO ourselves.  A challenging proposal for sure and one for which we all felt inadequate.  But with the leader’s encouragement that the Holy Spirit would direct us we picked up our pens and began.  

I found my letter written at that retreat this past week and was almost shocked at the honesty and truth it contained.  God had revealed my very frail humanity through His very clear lens.  At the same time He had reaffirmed His acceptance of me as His most beloved and precious daughter.  I decided it might be a good idea to use this form of “two- way prayer” as a regular periodic spiritual checkup.  If you’ve never tried writing a letter TO and FROM God, I suggest you do.  I think you’ll find the results surprisingly freeing and insightful.

God made us to live in relationship with Him.  He delights in communing with us and multiple methods of prayer make that possible.  Saint Teresa of Avila said, “For prayer is nothing else than being on terms of friendship with God.”

God made us to live in relationship with Him.  He delights in communing with us.

The most common word for prayer in the New Testament is the Greek word, “proseuche”.  It is a compound of two words:  pros which means close, up-front, intimate contact and euche which means wish, desire or vow.  As you come closer to God in whatever way is most meaningful to you it provides you a way and a place to present Him your desires and give Him your vow of trust.  

This Greek word is the one Paul uses in Ephesians 6:18, where he says, “And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers. . .”  The possibilities are endless.