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If You Struggle with Prayer, This is For You

I grew up in a very traditional Christian home where prayer is the foundation of your faith. That’s how you communicate with God. But it was always presented in a way that you carve it out of your day. Right? It’s a time that you set aside to specifically communicate with God.

It was always a struggle for me. It really was. I would beat myself up. I lived with years and years of shame because I knew I loved God and my love and dedication to God was genuine, but carving out an hour, 30 minutes, even 15 minutes a day just to talk to God was a struggle.

I didn’t like that struggle. I went on a personal journey to rediscover these truths that I had been taught to just believe. I wanted to discover and believe in my own terms.

I began to look at prayer as more of a lifestyle. It’s continuous open communication with the Divine. That means my thoughts, my actions, my words that I speak are a prayer. I stopped looking at prayer as a time to carve out of my day. Right? I don’t need to go to my prayer closet or get on my hands and knees to communicate with God.

My life is a prayer.

I redefined how I communicated with God. I make communication an all the time kind of thing.

A lot of times, people say, “Oh, you have to talk to God every day and if you don’t you’ll lose out. That relationship will end.”

You always feel this fear, “Oh my God! I haven’t prayed in a month! God probably hates me! It’s over! I don’t even have a relationship with God because I haven’t got on my hands and knees and prayed in a month! {insert freak out emoji}

The example would be given of like, “If you’re married you would just never go a month without talking to your husband.” True.

But you know, what else I’ve never done? Carved out an hour every day just to talk to my husband and that’s the only time I talk to him.

I never feel this sense of, “Oh man, I need to put an hour aside today to talk to Matt. Hmm…Which hour? I think it’s going to be the nine o’clock hour. That’s the time. I’m going to make my conversation list of all the stuff I want to talk to Matt.”

And that’s the only time I talk to Matt.

That’s not how it works. We’re in constant communication all day long. And thank goodness it’s 2019 because we’ve got text messaging. We text each other all day long. I think of Matt and think, “Oh my goodness. I need to tell Matt about this.” Text.

You know what, I wish you could see my phone right now because he literally just texted me “hi”. I’m not even kidding. That’s what communication is. And I know it’s not something he sets a timer to remind himself to text me “hi” at 10 o’clock. It’s not like that. It’s just organic and it comes from the heart and it’s constant. I feel connected to Matt even when I’m away from him. It might not be something that I’m like, “This is such a powerful connection with Matt.” But I never fear that our relationship is dissolving because I haven’t set a time to talk to him every single day at the same time. Right? Now, are there special times I do set aside to have a special intimate time with Matt? Absolutely.

I found this new way of how to pray and it was such a freeing thing. It was so freeing! I don’t feel condemnation, the shame that if I wasn’t in this prayer closet every day I was failing God. But I will say I had one hang up. And that was the scripture where the disciples said, “Jesus, teach us to pray.” Then Jesus gave the Lord’s prayer that we all know.

I have heard hundreds of sermons on pastors teaching specifically how to pray the Lord’s Prayer and how, when you pray, this is how you should structure your prayers. That was my big hang-up. I know prayer is a lifestyle and it’s not something that you have to become religious about. So, why did Jesus quote the Lord’s Prayer to the disciples when they asked him how to pray?

One day, when I was blow-drying my hair the answer popped into my head. I used to teach second grade at a boy’s Orthodox Jewish school. Now, if you don’t know anything about Orthodox Jews, I’m going to say, from what my experience is, they live the closest lifestyle to what a Biblical Jew lived. They stay very, very true to the law of the Old Testament. It was such an amazing experience working in this Orthodox Jewish school because I was able to really experience as an outsider the inside of that culture. I was able to see how a lot of those biblical traditions of that time era are still played out.

Something I realized because of that experience is Jewish people pray all the time. And the way they pray is they have memorized prayers. After they eat they have a prayer. And it’s a community chant. They will pray their prayer all together in unison. They also had their morning rituals of prayer. They had all kinds of prayers for every situation in their lives. This is when it hit me.

Jewish people, the Orthodox Jews, and most of that tradition know how to pray.

Now, let’s go back to the time when the disciples said to Jesus, “Teach us to pray.”

I can imagine their lifestyle was pretty similar to that of these Orthodox Jews, meaning they prayed as they knew how to pray every day. They prayed over their food. They prayed for blessings. They prayed it every single holiday and spiritual traditions. Saturdays have a ritual of prayers.

If that was the case, then why did the disciples ask Jesus to teach them how to pray? I believe it’s because Jesus was talking about a different kind of life. They realized that ”The way we pray is not how you’re telling us to pray, Jesus. So teach us, teach us how to pray.”

It hit me. When Jesus was starting to pray the Lord’s Prayer, “Our Father which art in heaven Hallowed be thy name.” he was setting the example that you live a lifestyle that embodies, that encompasses all of these areas.

So as I go about my day, ”hallowed be thy name.” I live in a way that magnifies the Creator. Everything I do,E  everything I present to the world is in a sense of honoring God.

”Thy kingdom come thy will be done on Earth as it is in heaven.” Everything I’m doing here on Earth is striving and working and presenting that which God would see for me in my life here on Earth.

”Give us this day our daily bread.” I believe and trust and know that my needs will be met, so my actions, my words, my thoughts constantly are in a place of trust and I am so grateful for them.

Yes, maybe I will pause and say a quiet prayer of thankfulness or a quiet prayer of request.

It’s just this ebb and flow of a life. That is the prayer that Jesus was talking about.

It’s a lifestyle.

Your words, your thoughts, your actions are one continuous prayer.

And that is praying without ceasing.

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