Speak to God honestly; say what’s really on your heart and mind
In my last article I briefly mentioned what I see as a worldwide resurgence of interest in spirituality, spiritual practices, and religion. A central tenet in all of the above is spending time in prayer. Prayer is how we commune with God, so it’s vitally important.
But how do you even pray? If you weren’t raised within any kind of religion or faith tradition, you might ask yourself that very question. Maybe you think you can’t follow a spiritual path without memorizing the right prayers (not true). Or, perhaps you were raised with exposure to religion and you were taught some prayers, but you don’t remember them and they never really resonated with you anyway.
Well, don’t worry. The prayers written by others are great. But you know what? Most of them were written by other human beings; they’re part of the traditions of a religion. You can cultivate a direct relationship with God and The Holy Spirit; that’s Christian spirituality. Prayer is the way to start cultivating that relationship, but you don’t need to memorize words that someone else wrote, just so you can recite them … God wants to hear what you have to say!
Do you know how many times God has heard those other prayers, such as the Our Father? Despite being Christian, I haven’t said any Our Father’s or Hail Marys in so long, I don’t remember all of the words to them. And I’m in no hurry to look up the words either, because it’s unimportant to me right at this moment. Those are the words of others, not mine. Nothing wrong with those prayers, mind you, but God is more interested in what we have to say for ourselves rather than if we can read from the scripts.
In the Gospel of Luke, Jesus is asked how He prays, and He responds with what became known as the Our Father, telling the disciples “pray like this.” But in the Gospel of Matthew, He simply presented the Our Father prayer as a good example to follow, warning the disciples to not prattle on in prayer with endless words like the Gentiles did. In Matthew, He never said “You need to pray exactly like this.” So let’s not get too hung up on the words themselves … I believe Jesus was saying “I tell The Father what’s on my mind and what I hope for, I express my gratitude. It goes something like this…