Monday, September 26, 2011

how do you pray?

My question is not so much about the practice of talking to God, but about physically what prayer involves for people. I guess, what I mean is whether prayer involves getting on your knees or your face before God, or praying with a group of people, or a specific place to pray, or whether prayer involves walking through a space for any given person.

I have been thinking about this for a while. I know all the things that prayer could involve that I listed above are good things. I would say, even necessary things. There are times when it is most appropriate to be on our knees or on our faces before God in prayer. There are times when we pray with others. There are times when we need to withdraw to a quiet place to pray. There are times when we may feel that a prayer walk is most effective.

And we will all have ways that we choose to pray more often than others because they are a way that works best for us to talk with God. That is a good thing. We are all made differently and we will all talk to God and hear from God best in different ways.

I was reminded this weekend that for me I talk to God best and hear from Him more clearly when I am walking through nature. I went for a walk through a park near my home and for the first time in a while felt like I was really able to have a conversation with God about things.

What about for you? Is there something you do or a place you to go to where you have the best conversations with God?

I do think that a problem arises when we try to tell other people how they have to pray - whether that be a specific time, place, way. Each person is different and that needs to be acknowledged and reflected in how we approach prayer. We need to allow for each other's differences.

Now, in saying that, I am not saying that we should never pray in a way that is not how we best communicate with God. I am not the most comfortable with prayer in groups, but that does not mean I never pray with others. I still make that a regular and important part of my life. But, it does mean that I am not going to choose to pray with others all the time. And if someone tries to tell me I have to, I will probably not be very happy about it and I will push back. There are times when I will pray in a group with people and there are times when I will still be in prayer about the same things, but I will choose to separate myself from the group and pray in a way that I feel I can best pray at that time.

We need to respect that everyone prays differently. And not try to force them to pray the way we do. We can encourage them and challenge them to try praying different ways - whether that be in a group or on a prayer walk or in a quiet place - but we must try to get them to conform to what we feel is best for us.

So, that leaves me with a question that I am still pondering: how do you pray?

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