The world changed again on Friday. Enough has been said.
And now it’s Monday morning again and we have to get back at the daily grind. Responsibilities pile up. Children need transported to and from school and extra-curricular activities. Bills still need to be paid. Emails still need to be sent. Work still needs to be done.
Sitting in silence this morning before I began the day, I was struck with all of the things that need to be done. (a.k.a. the “worries of the world”). Already, at 5:00am the weeds come in and try to choke the life out of me. There is a lot to be thinking about today.
It’s in the midst of this mental scramble that I feel like I’m supposed to have something to say to God. I feel like there must be something I can pray that will get me going, that will start this week off right.
I open my Bible, sit on my couch, and shut my eyes…
Nothing. No words come to mind except the same stuff I’ve prayed for years. I want to say something. I want to connect with God. But there’s just nothing. So… what do I do? Here’s a few suggestions on how to pray when you don’t know how.
- I sing. I read an article by Hugh Halter yesterday about people who don’t like to sing in church. It’s a great article, definitely worth the read. But that’s not me. I actually like to sing worship songs to God. This morning I sang an old Steven Curtis Chapman song about how I want to say more than words when I pray. But a good start when you don’t know how to pray? Just find a worship CD (Chris Tomlin, David Crowder , Jeff Deyo, Passion, or Hillsong are all a great start) and listen to a good worship song to get you going in the morning. If you know a song off the top of your head, just quietly sing to God. He hears. And he wants your heart more than he wants your words.
- I read. The Psalms are a great way to start the day. These are also worship songs. They are just a little older than the Passion and Hillsong bands. (Insert laughter and knee slapping here) King David, the Jewish king who had a heart that really sought after God, was the author of a large portion of the psalms. The Psalms were and still are the Jewish prayer book. No better place to begin learning how to pray than reading through and praying the Psalms to God.
- I listen. Sitting in silence in the morning without the distraction of children and other noises in my life, I can actually take a few moments to listen to what God is speaking to my heart. It’s ok to just sit in silence before God. He isn’t impressed with your many words, your inflection of voice, or your intellect. He is most impressed with your humility and your honesty… and by the way, it’s really not about impressing him either. I don’t have to sit for hours on end to just sit and calibrate my heart a little bit before the day begins. One helpful listening companion I have found through the years has been My Utmost for His Highest
by Oswald Chambers. This daily quiet time companion is full of incredible thought provoking insights and heartfelt musings from a former British military chaplain/missionary. Sit in silence and just listen.
- I clear. This one may seem strange… and it is often very difficult to do. I wake up oftentimes with a head full of worries. Anxiety can and will rule my day if I don’t take my mind and clear it before the Lord. I heard recently of a way to do this that I’ve been doing the past few days and it has helped me tremendously. When you sit quietly and the thoughts come quickly into your mind, just say “Silence” over those thoughts. You will have to repeat yourself regularly, but just saying “silence” allows you command over your thoughts. Keeping a clear mind before God allows you to fill it with the things that really matter and that really help you keep a positive outlook on the day ahead.
- I recite. Jesus, when asked by his disciples “how to pray”, gave them a model prayer. It is also known as “The Lord’s Prayer”. In Matthew 6:9-13, Jesus recites a prayer to the disciples as a model, an outline, or an example of how to pray. He begins with the word “Our” to denote a communal understanding of prayer. We pray, not just me. I pray by myself, yes… but I am not the only one who prays either. “Our Father” presumes an understanding that prayer is not just an individual endeavor. It is a community, a family that prays. This eliminates a selfish posture from the beginning. There is more to be said about this in a later post. But read through and memorize the Lord’s prayer. It will do you good to pray it when you cannot think of anything else to pray. Slowly meditate over the words and their meaning. Remember, God is not impressed with beautiful words, but humble and honest hearts before him.
I hope this has been helpful today. I’m going to begin my day today by taking a few more minutes to prayerfully meditate over a cup of coffee and my children’s lunches as I pack them. I often will turn on some worship music or listen to scripture on audio from the Holy Bible app put out by lifechurch.tv.
However you choose to pray today… remember that prayer isn’t something you only do once in the morning when you are starting your day, or as you put your head down to bed at night. It is an ongoing conversation that you can be in with God’s Spirit as you walk through your day. There is no exact science to it. There is not some kind of magic formula. And God is not a cosmic bubblegum machine just waiting to dispense some blessing because you put your quarter of prayer in today. Give him a little more credit than that.
He longs to connect and to speak into your life. You just have to get quiet enough before him to let him speak back. Conversation has always been a two way street. So pray. And don’t second guess your heart.
How else do you pray? Are there any other ways, methods, ideas that others might be able to use from your personal prayer life? Share your thoughts with us today. I know someone could use the encouragement.