Almost twelve years ago, I took a vow to follow a Rule of Life which required a daily discipline of prayer. With 5 other women, I promised to pray faithfully so that I might draw nearer to God and learn His will for me. And so, I began the Practice of Prayer. Brother Lawrence wrote in The Practice of the Presence of God, “It is a great delusion to think our times of prayer ought to differ from other times” and “There is not in the world a kind of life more sweet and delightful, than that of a continual conversation with God; those only can comprehend it that practice and experience it.” Like all good habits, the practice of prayer requires a commitment.
I don’t want to give the impression that prior to 2005 I didn’t pray. As a practicing Episcopalian I found the prayers in the BCP beautiful and helpful. They expressed my thoughts and desires much more eloquently than I could ever do on my own. I had my moments of praise and thanksgiving, (like grace before meals) and I would send up the silent “help me or help them.” I had a church life but what was going on between me and God? Were we actually communicating or was He communicating and I wasn’t listening? When I made that commitment to a Rule of Prayer I quickly learned that I needed to set aside a time and a quiet place to study scripture and converse with God.
He said: “Go out and stand on the mountain before the Lord, for the Lord is about to pass by.” Now there was a great wind, so strong that it was splitting mountains and breaking rocks in pieces before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind; and after the wind an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake, and after the earthquake a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire; and after the fire a sound of sheer silence— and then there came a voice to him that said, “What are you doing here Elijah?” 1 Kings 19:11-13
Like Elijah, we strain to hear God over the cacophony of our world. Blaring TVs, traffic noises, the ping of our phones and the intrusion of our thoughts all work to obscure the voice of God. When we take the time to spend it with God, we begin to grow into a more intimate relationship with Him. The world is held at bay and we sometimes hear that still small voice.
As liturgical people, we have those beautiful prayers but when we want to converse with Him it should be in our own words. Where do we begin? We can use The Lord’s Prayer given to us by Jesus as a model. It contains all we need for a prayer: acknowledgement and praise of God, turning our wills over to Him, petition for necessities, request for forgiveness and the ability to forgive others. There are as many prayer formats as there are personalities but with practice our prayers will become uniquely our own.
As I become more experienced and comfortable with my time in prayer, I realize that prayer is not limited to a certain time, place or format. It is important for me to set aside that special time for meeting with God but I also know He is with me at all times. I do not need an appointment to talk with Him and I know I can call out to Him at any time. Prayer is about getting to know God better, to trust Him more and obey Him completely. Prayer is not about what we want and how to get God to give it to us. He already knows our needs. It is about relying on Him 24/7. It is an ongoing conversation with God by which we discover His will for us.
Do not be anxious about anything but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. Philippians 4:6
Kathy Paulo, a member of St. John’s, Franklin, is President of Grace Chapter of the Order of the Daughters of the King at St John’s, and 2nd VP for membership of the Daughters of the King, Province 3.
|This is the third installment in our Prayer series that will run up to the Diocesan Prayer Vigil in March. Click here to view other stories in the series, and here for more information on the Vigil.|