Friday, April 22, 2011

"I don't know what to pray, but here I am again..."

It's been awhile.

If you remember my last blog post, I wrote that what I'm really lacking in life is prayer. Therefore, I decided that I would take half an hour every morning to pray.

And now, I must say, I apologize for failing you blog followers who I foolishly thought "could keep me accountable" just because I was telling you I was committing to this. Yeah right. If I wanted accountability, I should have told my roommate I needed her to pull me out of bed in the morning, or asked a close friend if they would ask me if I spent time with God that day. Writing it so my whopping 18 blog followers would simply know what I decided to do is not giving me any sort of accountability.

And frankly, I did not think it through very well. While it sounds like a great thing to do, I am NOT a morning person. So even saying I would spend 30 minutes in prayer before my I had to get up for my 9 am class or a 7:45 subbing job was SO unrealisitc.

All that being said, I did "adapt" what I primarily intended to do. I realized there was kind of an awkward gap from 1 to 2 in my Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays that was perfect for me to dedicate to prayer. (I don't enjoy doing homework in the middle of the day between classes anyway.) So, just about every Monday, Wednesday, Friday for the past several weeks I've gone to the prayer chapel and I have poured out and cried out my worries/frustrations/concerns/prayers/thoughts/joys/requests/etc etc. to God. (Thank goodness they have a box of tissues in all of the prayer rooms.) And I have pored over Scripture passages, recited prayers in a prayer book out loud, journaled, and just sat thinking, often getting distracted and watching people walk from the middle of campus to the DC for lunch, or from the DC to classes.

Often it's a really great, refreshing time for me. Sometimes I'd rather not go, but I do and then I'm thankful afterwards that I did. Sometimes I'd rather not go, and I just don't. I allow lies to get into my head making me think I'm "spiritually OK" and I don't need it. Other times I go and I feel like I'm just wasting time and my prayers are in vain. Sometimes I feel so overwhelmed and don't know what to pray--especially when I think outside of the people and things and events of my own life. ("God, be with the people in Japan and Haiti and Afghanistan and Libya and Egypt and God, just be with people everywhere. Help them. Comfort them. God, I don't understand all the hurt in this world and how my prayers even matter. Do they matter?")

I still feel like I suck at prayer. And taking the time to pray. But I'm also not beating myself up. Prayer is a great discipline to have, but God doesn't love me any less because I don't pray every morning for half an hour, or because I get distracted by so many random thoughts and forget I'm in the middle of prayer. I know he appreciates I talk to him when I do. And that I really want to hear him. And that I trust him. I imagine he's like my mom in the sense that she loves when I call her on the phone from school. She loves hearing about my life and concerns and is there for me when I cry to her when I'm hurting. She would love to talk to me all the time, but she doesn't get upset if I only call once a week--she gets MORE excited to talk to me. I think God's the same--loving me when I call on him anytime, anywhere, and not at all disappointed that I haven't talked to him in forever--no, more excited that I finally am. My God is not a God of do's and don't and rules and religion, He is a God of love and relationship and everything we see as "good" in this world! He created us in his image. We don't have stipulations on love--or we shouldn't anyway--so why would he? I'm so glad I don't follow a legalistic God and I don't have to endure some type of punishment for not praying or fasting or going to church or reading my Bible. If that was the case, I would have tossed Christianity out the window years ago.

Prayer is not legalistic. But it is a discipline which should flow out of a desire to have an intimate relationship with my Creator and Savior. And reciprocally, that desire also has increased as I have begun regular intentional prayer. It's also led me to be in a mindset more of continual prayer--shout-outs and cries and praises to God randomly during the day. And it's all just awesome. God is so much more real to me. I feel more grounded, more loved, less frazzled, less burdened, and more free.

More to come. Real soon. Stay tuned.