I keep fairly private about my feelings and things going on with me personally. But no matter what is going on, I feel I can always go to God.
I was raised in a Lutheran church and went to a Catholic School for 3 years. As a young child, I learned many rote prayers such as “Now I lay me down to sleep….”, “Come Lord Jesus….” and the Lord’s Prayer. While I felt a connection to God when praying the memorized prayers, I could find myself not really paying attention to or speaking directly to God.
I remember at about the age of 12, I began saying my own prayers to God before bed. I would say exactly what was going on with me and making specific prayer requests. My family moved out to a lake when I was 13 and I would enjoy walking out to the lake by myself and just praying to God.
It was something about being in nature that I felt closer to God. I’m not one that feels very comfortable praying in front of others. While I am able to do so; I prefer to pray alone. It’s my time to connect to God. I even feel a little uncomfortable when others prayer out loud for me.
Last week I attended our Wednesday night Bible study class at church. I didn’t know quite what to expect because the topic for this session was on prayer. When the topic had been announced a few weeks ago, I wasn’t very interested in the class because I felt, what else is there to learn about prayer?
I had been taught a few different things about prayer from my parents. My mom preferred the rote prayers; while my dad would rather pray spontaneously. My dad had very lengthy prayers and would often speak in tongues while praying.
While I don’t have the gift of tongues, I do prefer to pray in my own words rather than rote prayers. I feel a greater connection with God when I just speak to God about what’s on my mind. I don’t feel that rote prayers are wrong. Some come directly from the Bible such as the Lord’s Prayer. But rote prayers aren’t very personal and we can fall into a ritual and forget to focus on God.
I did end up learning something during the Wednesday night class. The pastor explained about the beauty of prayer. While I have felt very emotional during prayers; I never really considered it beautiful. I thought myself as being a “hot mess” when praying. I end up crying and think that I must look a bit awkward.
I remember my dad praying out loud during a Sunday morning church service and honestly, he embarrassed me by carrying on and speaking in tongues for about 10 minutes. Granted I was only 14 and teenagers are often embarrassed by their parents at that age.
After the church lesson, we were given an opportunity to pray alone and then pray over the chairs for the people that would attend in the coming weekend. I took this time to connect with God. I didn’t worry about anyone else. It ended up being a very powerful evening.
I would encourage you to grow your prayer life. If you don’t pray every day; or don’t always seem to go to God first; then I encourage you to do so. Maybe set a goal of daily prayer time. And add a reminder on your phone to pray at certain times throughout the day.
I have found that when I feel myself getting angry about something; it helps for me to open the Bible and pray to God about it. It prevents me from acting out in anger.