Get over Yourself and Pray

"Salt of the Earth", an original piece by artist  Anneli Anderson . 

"Salt of the Earth", an original piece by artist Anneli Anderson

By Nhu To-Haynes

When asked to share about prayer, there’s so much of me that wishes I had some really cool and simple method to lay it all out for us - something like “Five Steps to a Healthy Prayer Life” or  “Prayer for Dummies.” I don’t have such a method. My prayer life has been filled with trial and error, tension and struggle, and plenty of grace.  However, if I were to boil down this journey to a couple of principles that have helped me grow, they’d be: 1) Don’t obsess about praying “the right way” and 2) Get over yourself.

Recently, I’ve been looking at prayer differently. Before I could do so, I really had to examine myself and figure out why I wasn’t praying as much as I used to. I had somehow convinced myself that I needed a special time set aside to pray or that I needed to keep a prayer journal to have some tangible proof of God’s answers. I thought  maybe I should meet with a friend or two regularly so that I would have people holding me accountable. While none of these are bad ideas, I became overwhelmed with the idea that I was surely doing it wrong. In the end, I basically didn’t pray.  My focus on praying “the right way” got in the way of just praying.

The author with her husband.

The author with her husband.

In my reality, it’s always about me. I’m a mother, a wife, an employee, a sister, a daughter, a friend...the list goes on and on. So yeah, my prayers should be about me! That’s how I operated for a long time. Soon I grew tired and, truth be told, bored of the same requests for myself. Don’t get me wrong; we need to pray for ourselves! But I needed to take “me” out of the equation. This is not an easy thing to do. Around this time, it seemed that I was meeting more and more people (particularly women) who were tired, sick or hopeless. Maybe they were always there, but I was too self-centered to  notice. I began to take stock and recall times when I truly felt cared for, prayed over and real with other women. In those times of sitting, sharing and praying, I grew.

So when did things shift to being all about me? It happened when . . . It happened because . . . I had no time to . . . I could easily fill in the blank. I can honestly remember telling myself and others “I don’t have time to invest in another friendship right now.” When did I get so important that I couldn’t simply pray? Pray for someone, anyone. Why did I create these barriers to overcome before I could just sit, be still and pray?

Join us for Pray, Listen, Respond, an all-church women's event focused on the practice of hearing from and responding to God. Saturday, October 22, 9:00am - Noon, at Imago Dei. Learn more