Written by Leanna Westerhof. Media by Tyler Wright.
Prayer is key. At least, that’s what everyone has always told me and it has been one of the typical Sunday school answers for longer than I have been alive. People have always asked questions about forming a relationship with God. The answer? Pray and read your bible.
Done. Easy. Simple. Or is it? Why is it so hard to make time to pray? Making time for God in your hectic day of classes, homework, chapel, group projects, sports practice, band practice and club meetings seems nearly impossible when you look back at the day you’ve had. In addition, because you had such a hectic day today, you say to yourself “God understands, I will talk to him tomorrow,” and tomorrow turns into a couple of days, which turns into a week and all of a sudden a month has gone by.
Why have a prayer life? It is very simple, “One of those days Jesus went out to a mountainside to pray, and spent the night praying to God.”(NIV) This particular verse is found in Luke 6:12 and many more just like it can be found all throughout the Gospels. As Christians, we try to live our lives based on the example that Jesus has set for us. Jesus, the Son of God, spent many a night praying to his Father. He had a personal relationship with Him and that is what God wants from us as well. The only way to have a relationship with a person is to communicate with them. I’m sure we all have that one friend or person we know that absolutely stinks at communication and that makes it very hard to have a relationship with them. Relationships already take a lot of work without having the added struggle of someone who does not know the meaning of the word communication.
This summer I started reading the book, Confessions of a Prayer Slacker, by Diane Moody. From it, I learned a lot of people struggle with praying every day. It isn’t easy to make time for someone that you can’t see. Diane Moody puts it like this “I want my readers to stop the merry-go-round of prayerlessness, quit acting like a bunch of spiritual babies, and get serious about this thing called prayer. Without it, we’ll never experience the warm, one-on-one relationship God desires to have with each one of us.” She’s right, we have to grit our teeth and get down to business. Make a schedule, get a routine and make a habit out of praying to God every day. The great thing about prayer is the fact that there is no set formula. We have examples in the Bible if you are struggling, but God doesn’t care if you are not eloquent with your words.
I know what you’re thinking – all those people who pray in front of others always say the perfect thing and they sound so “Christian” and eloquent. But that doesn’t matter when you’re praying alone. It doesn’t matter what you sound like because the only other person who is going to hear you is God. And He already knows every single embarrassing thing about you, so I guarantee He doesn’t care what you sound like. You can come before the Lord angry, humble, scared, sad, happy or lost and He will accept you for who you are because He knows your heart.
In your prayer life, I encourage you start out slow and take 15 minutes at the minimum praying to God. It can be in-between classes, in the morning or at night, but it has to be a time where you will not get distracted by something or someone. Find a quiet place with no people to settle in and talk to God. Moody suggests that you find a place where you are comfortable and having this visual image of God sitting in a chair across from you or sitting on the couch next to you.
She also suggests having a notebook or a planner with you, that way when you are praying and you get distracted by a thought or something you have to do later that week you can write it down and get it out of your mind. Possibly have a list of what you want to talk to God about or a list of people you want to pray for. Over time, I would suggest setting up a prayer journal system that works for you. That way you can go back and see what prayers God answered and the ones He didn’t answer. If that doesn’t appeal to you find a devotional online that you can read and think about for those 15 minutes, or simply read a chapter in a book of the Bible, the Psalms would be a good place to start. Set yourself a time span of two weeks where you do this every day. After those two weeks if you miss a day you will realize that you miss spending time with God and you crave that time where you can pour out your heart to someone who loves you no matter what.