Saturday, February 1, 2014

What Does It Mean to Pray?

What is prayer? It feels like everyone has the same question. We know that prayer is something we should do, but no one feels very good at it, or even that we’re doing it right. We have this idea of prayer, on our knees with hands clasped as we think thoughts towards God. It’s how we’re taught to pray as children, and we don’t know how to go beyond that. It’s unsatisfying.

It’s frustrating. We’re told that prayer can be amazing, that it’s essential to a well-balanced life. But nothing we do even comes close, let alone the ecstasy that saints used to have. We’re told that some people used to pray for hours, and I can’t even last five minutes without thinking that it’s stupid sometimes.

We need a new model. One of the best things I was ever told was that prayer is supposed to be relational, not a duty. We don’t pray because we have to, we pray to reach out to someone. If prayer should be a relationship, we should look at how we talk to our friends and our family, the people we already have relationships with. Maybe that means we give a second look at texting.

I was talking with a friend, and she described to me how her brother ALWAYS has to be texting his girlfriend. They text back and forth constantly about the dumbest things. They also live four hours apart, so it’s not hard to see that they care about each other a lot, and want to be present with each other throughout the day. Its a lot like how I want to be with God.

I’ve talked with teachers, and it’s ridiculous what kids text to each other, even in the same room. It’s literally things as simple as “Hey, look at me and make a face.” When we text, we don’t worry about making each message important, or intentional. We just say whatever we’re thinking about, wanting to connect with that other person.

We should do the same with God. There’s no right way to pray. It’s not a test. We should pray like we talk, because prayer should be the way we communicate with the person we care about. It’s ok if we “pray-text” God throughout the day. Surprisingly enough, it’s a very old way of praying. Back in the day they called it “ejaculations.” People used to memorize short snippets of prayers and say them throughout the day, making God a part of their lives.

It’s a similar to “offering things up to God.” Our parents did this a lot growing up; whenever something bad happened, or they had to do something they didn’t like, they were told to “offer it up to God.” The idea was that Christ suffered, and when we suffer we join in His suffering. Just like when athletes complain to each other about hard workouts, or sick people commiserate about their illnesses, sharing our suffering helps us feel closer to each other.

So if we don’t know how to pray, we should look at how we talk. What brings us closer to our best friends? Is it long talks at night? Long, carefully considered emails? Or do you feel close to friends just playing games or reading books together? Whatever draws us closer to our friends is what will draw us closer to God. Prayer is how we talk with God; we don’t need to make it any more complicated than that.

1 comment:

  1. Your article has piqued a lot of positive interest. I can see why since you have done such a good job of making it interesting.
    text god app