I’m going to make a controversial statement, and I hope in time you’ll forgive me. Ready? Here it is:
Prayer is hard.
It really is. Many of us struggle with all kinds of fears when it comes to prayer- for some it’s not knowing what to say, and others it’s fear that God might think our prayers foolish. Or perhaps it’s feeling like God’s not listening. For me, what makes it difficult is distraction. And- for many of us- praying out loud? Terrifying.
The really sad thing about this is that prayer shouldn’t be hard.
God tells us many times in the Bible that He wants to hear from us, and He wants us to be in relationship with Him. He even asks us to call Him ‘Father.’ That’s pretty amazing, when you stop and think about it. The almighty creator of the universe wants to know what’s on our minds, and He wants us to ask Him when we need help. Prayer should be something that we look forward to, something we cherish.
I’ll be the first to admit that it’s easy to let someone else do the praying for me. But when I take the time to form the words, the thoughts, the requests myself, that’s when my relationship with God grows and blossoms. And maybe there’s more to it than just a good feeling when I say ‘amen’- studies are showing that the more a family prays and talks about faith together, the more likely a young person is to develop a personal faith which continues to grow when they leave the home. Therapists have found that families who pray regularly are more effective at resolving conflicts. Maybe God gave us prayer as a gift for building relationships- not just with Him, but with each other too.
I think it’s ok for us to be creative in prayer.
There are many examples of people in the Bible kneeling in the quiet before God- but then, there are just as many where people are singing. Dancing. Walking. Washing hands- and feet. And if we can pray in those ways, why can’t we draw? Write thoughts on post-it notes? Or use Google maps? God gave us creative minds and any way that we can use them to strengthen our communion with Him, I think, has got to be a good thing.
This year is our District’s ‘Year of Prayer’, and what better time for us all to try and strengthen our prayer life? This summer, when the Olympic torch reaches London, we’ll be sending out our own ‘prayer torch’ around the Circuit to those who want to take up the challenge: pray together as a family (or as a couple, housemates, colleagues, with grandchildren- just pray with someone) at least four times within a fortnight, reflect a little on what you learned, and then pass on the torch. Those who sign up to take the challenge will, on their particular fortnight, be given a resource pack of creative ideas to try and a journal for reflection to encourage others when it’s their turn.
The goal is to keep the torch running (or should we say praying?) until Christmas. It’s my hope that this challenge will give you an opportunity to learn more about yourself as well as some tools to help when prayer gets difficult. And maybe it will give us all the confidence to teach the next generation how to pray in a meaningful, healthy, relationship-building way. If you would like to take up the challenge and host the prayer torch, get in touch with me to book a time slot. In the meantime, we can all pray any time, in any way. I challenge you to give it a go!
Grace and peace,
Read more about the Prayer Torch and watch for stories from families taking the challenge here on the blog.