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.
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.