Praying for Real

“To pray, I think, does not mean to think about God in contrast to thinking about other things, or to spend time with God instead of spending time with other people. Rather, it means to think and live in the presence of God. As soon as we begin to divide our thoughts about God and thoughts about people and events, we remove God from our daily life and put him into a pious little niche where we can think pious thoughts and experience pious feelings. … Although it is important and even indispensable for the spiritual life to set apart time for God and God alone, prayer can only become unceasing prayer when all our thoughts — beautiful or ugly, high or low, proud or shameful, sorrowful or joyful — can be thought in the presence of God. … Thus, converting our unceasing thinking into unceasing prayer moves us from a self-centred monologue to a God-centred dialogue (Henri Nouwen).”

I confess. I suck at prayer.

Lately, what starts out as prayer either turns into daydreaming or just plain dreaming.

I have such difficultly keeping my mind focused on prayer when I’m praying. How sad is that?

I also confess. Prayer isn’t about me. It’s not about how well or how poorly I pray.

The Bible says that the Holy Spirit can translate even the deepest of sighs and groans into words that God hears. When I can’t find the words to pray or the voice to speak them, God still hears.

Sometimes, I think when I’m at my most eloquent is when I’m actually doing the least amount of praying. It ends up being me performing for others instead of petitioning my Father in heaven.

The most beautiful prayers in God’s ears are the ones for which there are few words, like the one the tax-collector prayer over and over, “Lord, have mercy on me, a sinner.”

For that I’m thankful.

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