I hated praying, struggling to find the words that sounded right to speak to God. Growing up the Lord’s Prayer was beautiful, but so formal ,so correct that when I tried to pray beyond it I struggled fell over my words and honestly gave up.
I’ve tried journals, I’ve tried prayer devotions but nothing felt right.
I would write my prayers down and that helped but I really wanted to be able to sit, speak out loud and share my heart with God.
I stepped away, losing myself in the worship at church and the shared prayer but when alone my words stumbled, then halted.
When a leader asked if I wanted to pray out loud my heart would triple its pace and my mouth would become so dry. So many prayer circles went silent when they came to me, the uncomfortable emptiness filled only when the person next to me took pity and began to speak.
Yet talking to God wasn’t a problem, conversations on the drive to school, chatting about how I wanted my son and girls to have good days. Would God keep an eye on them and watch over them please?
When friends were struggling or their children were ill, I would be “Hey God please be there with them in the hard place, let them know how much you love them”.
Still I wasn’t praying, was I?
Somehow in my mind prayer had become a formal way of conversation. It had to flow, had to be pretty, had to make sense. You couldn’t stumble over things when talking with God, no I had to learn how to pray with purpose.
Yet after one more failure of a prayer devotional I literally found myself praying about praying. “Dear God, help me to pray better, show me how to have a conversation with you”. “help me to pray properly”.
I swear I heard God say “WHAT, what have we being doing this last 40 plus years?”
You see the light finally switched on ( I’m a slow learner) God didn’t care for formal or organised. All he wanted was my heart. Those drives to school where I handed him my children, where I asked him to watch over my most precious gifts we were chatting. Those nights when I cried myself to sleep asking so many “why’s” so many “I don’t understand but I trust” I was conversing with God. When I asked him to watch over my friends he heard me.
I had confused prayer big time, all God wanted was me to chat to him. He doesn’t need pretty verses or flowing paragraphs, he just needed my heart.
When I’m singing my heart out in worship he heard me.
When I literally ask in the midst of pain for him to walk with me, he hears me loudest.
God knows my heart, he didn’t, he doesn’t need ribbons and bows he needs my truth.
So my prayers may sound like I’m chatting to my Dad but isn’t that what I’m doing, talking with my Heavenly Father.
Finally learning this lesson has freed me so wonderfully, I am chatting with God more than ever. Praying openly and genuinely with my whole heart, I’m not stressed over the words but the substance of my prayer.
Dear Father, my friends children are not well right now, I know you see them and I know you are with them but please let them know your peace in their heart’s.
Dear Father, I was awful today, I let me anxiety turn me into a nightmare, I’ve nagged at my husband, shouted at the kids and vice versa. May they show me Grace, May I ask forgiveness and may I learn to deal with situations in better ways.
I’m loving my conversations with God.
Loving the freedom of my sharing my heart, without worrying about correctness.
I am often struck thinking of Jesus and how he talked to his Dad. Did he feel the need to be formal or did he cry out to his Father asking for strength, support.
We know he did.
So I guess if you are struggling to pray, struggling to find the words to share your heart with God. Step back, forget the formality and allow your spirit to speak. There is no right way or wrong way to talk to God all he wants is for him to hear your heart.
Dear Father, I’m asking for everyone who believes prayer has to be formal and correct and because of this belief struggles to talk to you, May they know that you don’t care how we talk as long as we talk. You know how slow I was to learn this lesson, grant others quicker understanding.
Your daughter always