Practice of Prayer

I have been hearing recently from a number of friends how they are working on their prayer life or how they would like to work on their prayer lives.  They inspire me to enrich my own prayer life.  In thinking about how I would like to become a better pray-er, I first tried to identify what keeps me from becoming closer to God in prayer.

Barriers in my prayer life:

  1.  Unanswered prayers.  Who wants to keep asking for something when an answer is never received?  It’s difficult to continue prayers2to ask when the answer doesn’t come easily or at the time I want it to.
  2. Loss of control.   Turning my day over to God means truly turning everything over to God and that loss of control can be scary.  It can leave me feeling helpless – one of my least favorite feelings!
  3. Lack of time.  Finding time to just be with God in prayer can be challenging especially with all the demands that family, community and we ourselves place on our lives.
  4. Fear of vulnerability.   Whenever we put our true feelings out there for others to see, we face rejection and ridicule.  Even though, I should know that God would never reject me, that fear can be real.
  5. Fear of grace.  I know that sounds ridiculous but I can find myself cautious for what I ask for because I’m not sure if I truly want it.  If I ask for more patience, are my kids going to test me more?

 

So now it’s time to work out solutions to overcome these barriers.  Here’s what I am struggling with and working toward.

 

  1. God always answers prayers.  He just answers them in His own way and in His own time.  I have heard this all my life, but I’ve got to remind myself regularly.  Like a mother whose child asks if he can have yet another snack, she pauses to think… how long until dinner, when the last snack was, what is in the pantry.  I wonder if God too pauses before answering our prayers so that He can make sure that the rest of his plan for us is ready to come to fruition.  Sometimes though, his pause is much longer than we would like!
  2. Losing control can be freeing.  Knowing that someone else is in the driver’s seat and I get to be the passenger, always makes road trips easier on me.  And I find that is true in life too.  If I just let God take over, He will always get me to where I need to be and where He needs me to go.  And I don’t have to worry about the big picture or how it will all work out in the end because He’s got it all mapped out.  I just need to be willing to go along for the ride.
  3. We don’t have to have a certain time for God.   He is with us every moment of every day.  He is by our side, hoping that we share the latest frustration or latest joy with Him.  Yes, I do need to set aside time for prayer, but it doesn’t have to be in any particular location or at any exact time.  I can talk to Him as I clean a shower or sit in a pick-up line at school.  He just wants to be with us – at all moments of our day.  And I need to invite Him to share all of my experiences with me.
  4. Being vulnerable opens us to a closer relationship with God.  When I am real with myself and truly talk to God, I have to know that this is the one person who totally gets me.  He knows where I am coming from.  He knows why I react a certain way.  He knows what I think even before I do.  And to be closer to Him, Jesus said that we must become like a little child.  Who is more vulnerable and more real than a little child?  I need to take on that spirit and let the Holy Spirit draw me ever closer to our Father.
  5.  Trusting in God means being showered with unexpected graces.  I remember a few years ago I was lamenting the fact that I never had time to pray the rosary.  Oh, how I wished that I could take just a few minutes away from my young family just to run those rosary beads through my fingers in prayer.  One week, when my prayers for the rosary were especially fervent, a storm blew through our neighborhood.  A microburst took down two trees in our yard.  We suddenly had a very large weekend project in the heat of the summer.  While my husband and our neighbor worked on cutting up the limbs of the large one in the front yard, I worked on the one in the backyard – huge limbs had come down but the tree wasn’t a total loss.  And as I spent hours cutting on the wood and dragging them out to the trailer in the front yard, I found myself with plenty of time to pray the rosary.  I counted by limbs rather than beads in my hands, but the decades that passed made the time and the work go easier.  And now when I pray, I try to be willing to accept whatever way that God answers my prayers because his prayers always result in more graces!

How are you working on your prayer lives?prayers

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