I once asked a friend if he prayed. His answer, "I don't know." I laughed. That probably wasn't the proper response, but I asked how you can not know if you pray or not. When we talked about it more, I found out he wasn't sure because he doesn't drop to his knees and press his hands together. So he wasn't sure if his thoughts to God counted as prayer.
In a group I was part of in the past, many people didn't like to pray out loud. They didn't think they were good at it. Part of me understood, but part of me also wondered, "Can you really be bad at prayer?"
And, recently, I've found myself pondering what we pray for. Should we be praying for our hopes, wants, goals? When should we pray? Why? How?
So, I decided to write about it here. Again, let me say I'm not an expert. But I believe in the power of focusing energies and thinking positively...in the power of prayer. And these are my thoughts on prayer...
To begin with, I believe that God is everywhere. I believe the wind blowing the leaves in front of me is God's little hello to me. I believe a phone call from a friend or a hug from the kids when I need it is a helping hand. I believe His energy, His spirit is surrounding me and supporting even when I'm not paying attention. So, my prayers tend to be less formal and more like on-going chats.
I don't think praying requires a specific format. It's a conversation between me and God. It can happen any place, any time. Sometimes that may mean praying with a bible quote in front of my or with music in the background. Other times that may mean passing thoughts while I dash here and there, ushering the kids around.
I do think that there can be lackluster prayers and more passionate, focused prayers...like anything in life. Sometimes I say "I love you" without thinking about it. Other times, those three words can pack a punch, having been really formed from strong emotion more than habit.
I pray for many reasons, too. Perhaps my most frequent prayers are for the health of those involved whenever I hear sirens. I like to clarify that "health" may mean something different to God right then, than it traditionally means to me. I don't pray that part every time...I figure God's heard it enough from me, He knows what I mean! I also pray for my friends and family, that God's watching over them even if they're not looking for Him. And I pray for myself.
Recently I've been focusing on saying prayers for God's will, not mine. This occurred to me because I found myself in a situation that I wasn't sure what I wanted the outcome to be. I was praying about that...for some clarity...when I realized it doesn't matter so much what I want to have happen. It's not in my hands.
Sometimes I pray using words that others have written. Devotionals, the Our Father, creeds, are all pre-written tools that can be helpful to use, especially when we're stuck or not feeling "into it" at the time. Often I pray using my words. I like to say, "Hi!" to God. I like to thank him for experiences, reminders, little joys. Those greetings are how many of my prayers start.
And that, my friends, are my raw thoughts on prayer. I'd love to hear how/what/why/when you pray???