How To Pray

MC Hammer A wise philosopher famously sang:

We got to pray
Just to make it today
I said we pray(pray) ah, yeah, pray(pray)
We got to pray
Just to make it to pray
That’s word, we pray.

Yet so many people don’t want anything to do with prayers. They think they are foreign and reserved for religious fanatics.

I can see where it’s hard asking for help in the midst of our shame and guilt.

I’ll go first.

I’m not perfect. Sometimes (lots of times) I cuss. I have regrets from the past and sometimes wonder if I’m fulfilling my life’s purpose. I might beat myself up over a flabby stomach or eating too much junk food. Or maybe I get snippy with a co-worker who didn’t deserve it. Perhaps I took a bad day at the office out on my husband when I got home. Or I feel like I’m screwing up my kids when I’m not in the mood to read them a book before bedtime. It may be that I lazily slipped Cool Ranch Doritos in their lunchbox instead of an organic, gluten-free granola bar.

Don’t we all have our days where we are feeling “less-than”?

Good thing I have a God who I can turn to who will comfort me and help me lay all my troubles aside.

I can see where having an intimate, trusting relationship with God can be difficult. Especially in these volatile times where so many around the world are fighting in His name.

There is a belief that God is a punisher to be feared. That He is an intolerant critic who is disappointed in our bad choices and will send us to the fiery furnace on judgment day if we don’t immediately clean up our acts. That He has ordered His followers to be the “sin police” and polarize those who don’t adhere to His commands.

This belief suggests that God is an ornery old man incapable of forgiveness and compassion.

How terrifying. It’s understandable why so many people are too afraid of God to love Him and let Him into their lives. I can see why so many are afraid to pray. They don’t want to go there.

That is not my God. My God epitomizes love and benevolence. He teaches forgiveness and love. He is a genius with a sense of humor. He is inclusive and a good parent who loves all His children the same. He created a set of life tools to direct us toward our best lives and not because he is trying to rob us of a good time. He is a best friend who created the inner depths of our hearts and planted our struggles so we can come to know and trust Him. Which is exactly why He has his own compassionate judgment for each of us that we on earth can’t comprehend. (He is the judge: not us.)

Nobody who knows me would describe me as a Bible Thumper, but the relationship between me and God is strong and it is real.

And you see, that’s all he cares about. The relationship. A good one. You and Him. Together. BFFs. 

I pray several times a day. Here’s how I do it.

The urge pops into my head and I just go for the gold.

It ain’t formal and it sure as heck ain’t frilly.

Sometimes the prayer is five words and other times it is twenty sentences.

The prayers can be silly.

Please God, don’t let me murder my husband for leaving wet towels on the floor.

Dear God, if you cure this hangover I won’t ever drink again. This week. 

Other times the prayers can be serious.

Please heal the cancer in my friend’s brain.

Please Lord, help that father find a new job so he can feed his family.  

There’s usually no kneeling or hand-folding (although you can certainly do that if you want to.)

No fancy candles.

No gospel music.

It doesn’t have to happen in a church or a synagogue or any other traditional place of worship.

Good prayers can happen anywhere. 

At your desk when you’re waiting for someone to respond to an e-mail.

At the gym on the treadmill.

In the carpool pickup line.

At grocery check-out.

In the front office waiting for your doctor’s appointment.

God doesn’t care. 

You can be in your bathing suit or your pajamas.

On a yoga mat in the studio or on a towel at the beach.

In front of the TV or behind a book.

Doesn’t matter to God. It just matters that it happens. Come exactly as you are. No formalities and nothing fake. 

You see, God doesn’t want the fancy, Shakespearean language. He doesn’t want you to feel like you have to dress up.

He just wants you. 

After all, he is the One who created you and will be the first to know if there’s any beating around the bush.

He wants you to go to Him when you have problems and for you to completely trust Him. Even when you are hurt and confused and angry and defeated. (But especially when you are those things.) He wants to give you His peace and His blessings. He wants you to thank Him when you are grateful.

He wants you to pray however suits your fancy. 

Just do it however you do you.