14 And this is the boldness we have in him, that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. 1 John 5:14, NRSV
Prayer is one of the “obvious” spiritual disciplines, but can look many different ways. We talked in earlier days about how prayer can be a more active experience, one in which we are talking to God (whether out loud or not), or a more passive experience (such as centering prayer’s focus on sitting in God’s presence).
Rather than saying anything about “how to pray,” that’s a separate conversation, I want to offer a few practical thoughts on prayer. I know most people struggle to pray at all. I am one of these people. If this is you- find the style of prayer that you can do. In an ideal world we would all have wildly exciting and diverse prayer lives. We don’t live in an ideal world. Don’t think about time or frequency. Focusing on those things is just shame attack waiting to happen. Spend your energy discovering a form of prayer that you enjoy (or can at least tolerate) and do that when you can. It’s easier to stick to it if you schedule it and make it a habit but, if that’s not happening, do it when you can. Any amount is valuable, there is no minimum.
There is no right or perfect way to pray. Some people use acronyms or other tools as guides. That’s fine if it helps you. Centering prayer is no more correct than a more active form of prayer. They are all strategies and approaches, they all have value, and they will speak to, or connect with, different people differently. Find something you enjoy- but be willing to try uncomfortable things. It took me years to be willing to experiment with centering prayer- now it is my go-to. So, don’t be afraid to revisit something you’ve previously rejected. We change.
There are “talking” prayers and “silent” prayers. There are also other options. You can get the Book of Common prayer, for instance. You can read these prayers, and take them as your own. You can do the same with Psalms, or Lamentations, or even the Prophets. Or you can simply pray the Lord’s Prayer. Or the Serenity Prayer. You can use pre-written prayers as guides so you do not have to form your own words. This can be one of the simplest ways to get started.
Prayer is our conscious contact with God but, don’t forget our communal mindset. Prayer is also one of the ways in which we serve our community and our world. It’s far bigger than us. Community is always first!