The misconceptions of prayer
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I am not sure where to start with this, so bear with me. My dad died when I was barely six and not only was I angry at God for taking him; I missed my dad and was jealous of other kids who still had dads. I was raised Catholic and had no trouble believing in the Holy Trinity or anything about God. There was no denying he existed, but being so angry, I refused His existence (if that is even possible, but I was six).
I spent the next 21 years of my life missing my dad and engaging him in my conversations regularly as if he were my invisible friend and with me all the time. I know, this makes me very strange and you would think that I could get on with my life after a few years. Old habits die hard especially ones that you begin in early childhood. By the time I was 17 I left the church, got married, had children, got divorced and remarried. Before I knew it I was 27 and, although I was still talking to my dad (in my head), there was something missing in my life. I began to long for God and wanted to go back to church. I tried the Catholic Church, but it had changed so much in the ten years I missed, that I felt that it was no longer where I wanted to be. I ended up in a little non-denominational church and became a born-again Christian (by repenting of my sin and accepting Jesus as my Savior).
A note here on being born again, I was so amazed how my thinking changed. I would look at a young girl walking by dressed provocatively and wonder "How can she dress like that, it is terrible." Then I would remember, a couple of weeks ago I dressed like that - wow, what happened to my brain? I think so different. Isn't that an amazing and wonderful thing how He changes us? Everything is so different after you are born again. Your friends think you are weird and you don't have a clue why they think that, some will stay your friends, but most will drop you like you have the plague.
I had many struggles with prayer. In the Catholic Church as a child, we recited certain prayers over and over again; at my new church they prayed in tongues - which really scared me. I tried that, but I am way to practical and thought "how do I know whether I am praying or cursing if I can't understand what I am saying." The pastor said I needed to trust God, well I already did that, but it was me I did not trust, so I left that church and found a nice Baptist church that had wonderful Bible studies. I learned so much, but still wondered whether I was praying correctly. I had no problem in the praise and worship parts of the service and loved the sermons because I was learning more about my Savior and how I should live for Him. I had much self-doubt about my prayer time and whether I was saying the right things, asking the right things, or just plain wasting God's time with my drivel.
Finally, after many years of struggle, I have come to the conclusion that even though there are instructions on how and what we should pray in the Bible that we do not need to adhere strictly to that pattern every moment we pray. There are times to get on your knees in repentance, there are times to kneel or stand in worship of the Lord; but there are also times when a quick prayer is called for. I think much of my problem in prayer was because of my Catholic upbringing. Prayer was (and should be) a worshipful respectful time with God, but God does not like us repeating the same words over and over. An example is when our children repeat, "What's that, mommy?" nine million times a day. Our Lord wants to be a part of our life and part of our conversations, not listening to repetitive words that we are just reciting to recite and not really understanding what or why we are reciting them.
As I said before, habits started as a child are very hard to break; however, I find that because of the early habits of talking to my dad - it is very easy to include the Lord in my thoughts all day long. The Bible does say to pray continually and I used to think, "I really don't have time to stay on my knees all day long." I am thrilled to be able to include the Lord in my daily activities. Taking time for devotions and worship are important, but including Him in daily activities is very rewarding. Believe me; it is very hard to have road rage while you are talking to the Lord as you are driving. It makes cleaning the house (which I really dislike) easier when you are thinking about the Lord or recalling a Psalm or other Scripture verses. It also helps during times of worry or frustration, I often tell the Lord, "This is something You are going to have to deal with, because I can't." or "Lord, this makes me so angry, I need Your help to calm down."
Before you think I am some kind of saint with an open-line with God - that is not the case at all. More often than not, my mind wanders away from Him and I find myself wallowing in self-pity, anger, and a myriad of other sins. I wonder why it is always so hard for me to stay close and why He puts up with my rebellion; after all, it should be an easy thing to stay close to someone you love so much. Although the Lord stays close to us, we are the ones that step away just like wandering sheep. Because of our sin nature, He lets us wander a bit and then nudges us back to Him. It is a strange thing indeed, because we usually do not know that we wandered off until He nudges us back. We are truly a stiff-necked people and even though we try to keep Him in our daily activities, more time on our knees and more time in His Word is necessary to keep us close to Him and less likely to wander.
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A very good article and much needed in the body. Since God lives in us it seems only natural to me to talk with him daily no matter what I am doing. Thanks so much for sharing this. GOD BLESS YOU