Learning To Pray
But what if you don't feel like praying
Prayer is a discipline. It's a bit like my relationship with my wife: when we first fell in love it was all just pure chemistry and all we ever wanted to do was spend time together. For a lot of people prayer starts out like that it's just adrenalin. The excitement of knowing that you are talking to the living God! But nowadays in my marriage I have to plan 'date nights' in my diary, and maybe we go out for a meal, light a candle, listen to some smoochy music. By disciplining myself to spend time like this with my wife, we keep the passion alive. It's not a sign of an unhealthy relationship it's a sign of a deepening and a maturing relationship.
It's the same with prayer. By disciplining ourselves to spend time with God, we can move beyond the stages of infatuation, into a deeper, more mature relationship with him. Some people make time to pray at the gym. Others find it helpful to listen to loud music, or to be silent and still. Learn to pray the way God made you.
How can we stay in Gods presence, daily?
I love these stories of brother Lawrence who worked in the kitchen of a monastery and learned to 'practise the presence of God' all the time. If you spend ten minutes in prayer each day, that is just so that you can spend the other twenty-three hours and fifty minutes with a greater awareness of the presence of God.
How do you hear Gods voice? How do you know it's God, not your own thinking?
I am terrible at discerning God's voice but I am getting a little bit better and I try to learn all that I can from people who are brilliant at hearing his 'still small voice'. Some people think that God communicates with us like land mail that comes through our door. He sends word occasionally, when we really need it but he's silent the rest of the time. Other people think that God communicates more like a cell phone. He texts or calls several times a week but the rest of the time he's busy doing other stuff. And then there are others who think that God broadcasts more like a radio station he is continually 'on air' and we just have to learn to tune into what he is saying and listen.
I am trying to get a lot better at listening to God in the normal and ordinary things. The Bible is our guide to understanding God's heart and purposes, but I try to listen to him when I'm watching TV, when I'm talking to my friends, when I'm out running in the countryside. Keeping a journal is one of the ways I find it helpful to capture and reflect on what God is saying to me.
I sometimes think it's like when you start a relationship with somebody. At first when they phone you they have to say what their name is but after a while you learn to recognise their voice and they can simply say 'Hi it's me'. As we go on in our relationship with God we get much better at recognising God's voice.
How to Pray June 2011* Keys to Effective Prayers May 2009 * Teach Me How to Pray Feb 2006 Archives