What does your prayer life look like? What do you pray for regularly?
Honestly, my prayer life is pretty constant. It could be because I’m alone all the time without anyone else to talk to. :) But it’s more accurate to say I was always this way… constantly talking to God and listening, although I didn’t realize it was prayer when I was younger.
I used to think prayer always had to be structured, with the right words and posture. I think those things can be incredibly beneficial and helpful, but when I place too much emphasis on that I often find myself more caught up in how I’m saying my prayers than what I’m saying. And that really doesn’t work for me. It just doesn’t feel as sincere. Just like we all have different ways of learning and communicating, just like our ways of organizing and processing are different, I think our prayer can be different as well.
For me, pretty much all my thoughts are a conversation with God. I’m a thinker. I could sit without the television or music on all day… just reading or writing or, when my body is exhausted, just laying in the quiet letting my thoughts wander. And as I think of people in my life, events in the world, situations I am facing, the back and forth thoughts in my mind are just as conversational as talking to my best friend. It’s me wondering and processing and talking things through in my mind, and listening for answers. Not great, audible, booming-voice-of-God answers but the whispers that settle into my thoughts and resonate in my heart.
There are days when I’m worried or unsettled and the words for my thoughts don’t come as easily. When I know I need His guidance but am at a loss for what to say… what to ask… how to begin… those are the days when I appreciate the memorized prayers I grew up on. Those are the moments I say the Memorare or the Acts of Faith, Hope and Love. I am such a visual person that sometimes it’s easier for me to pray the rosary… get into the repetition of the prayerful words and visualize the people I am praying for, seeing them wrapped in grace, at peace and well. Even when “original” words of my own don’t come easily, I know God understands my thoughts and the desires of my heart.
And there are also those recited prayers that I use simply because I love the words. It’s kind of like the idea of not needing to reinvent the wheel. When someone has said something so perfectly, something I desire with all of my heart, I don’t feel a need to find new ways of saying it. For example, this is a prayer that I say every morning, because it’s what I want for my life:
God Alone Suffices
I offer you, Lord, my thoughts: to be fixed on you; my words: to have you for their theme; my actions: to reflect my love for you; my sufferings: to be endured for your greater glory.
I want to do what you ask of me: in the way you ask, for as long as you ask, because you ask it. I pray, Lord, that you enlighten my mind, inflame my will, purify my heart, and sanctify my soul. O Mary, Mother of God and my Mother, pray also to Jesus for me.
For me, I don't think prayer is about changing God's mind in regards to my circumstances... I think it's about letting God know I’m here, I’m paying attention, I love Him and honor Him and am in it with my whole heart. Just this past week I’ve had a rough situation with my doctors and realized that, in order to maintain the progress I’ve made with the Cushing’s over the past few months, I needed to make a change in my health care. It was stressful and scary and reminded me how much being homebound limits my life and my choices.
I was praying a lot. And I had other people praying for me like the fierce friends they are. Despite the stress and the knot in the pit of my stomach, I knew full well God already knew the outcome. I wish I could say that made the knot go away, but it didn’t. It did, however, help keep me focused. My conversations with God kept repeating as I would tell Him that I trusted Him, I knew he already knew the solution, but that if He had found a way to bring this to resolution without me having to jeopardize my health, I would be so beyond grateful. I would be willing to go where He needed me to, but I really, really, really would prefer the path be clear.
During this conversation one night, it struck me that Jesus basically said the same thing in the garden. He told his Father he would do His will, but he’d rather the cup pass him by. It made me feel better about asking for my will, letting Him know what I desired, even though in the end I still wanted His will to be done. And I feel so blessed that a resolution was found for me this time.
I’m obviously not an expert on prayer or anything, but I will say I don’t think it’s something that only helps us build our own relationships with God. I believe it helps us build relationships with each other as well. I whole heartedly believe that I am at peace with my life because people pray for me. They don't even need to pray for my healing or for my physical life to change... I have asked so many to just pray that I have the strength and peace to deal with what comes for me.
That prayer continues to be answered.
I don’t think prayer is just about changing circumstance, although sometimes it does. It’s also about changing my heart... aligning my will with His. Asking Him to give me a heart that would rather serve Him than serve my own desires. To me, that is the most powerful thing.