More Than a Catchphrase
“Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”
1 Thessalonians 5:16-18
Prayer is one of those words we hear a lot about in church, but too often it becomes a "catchphrase" when folks cannot think of any other thing to do or say. Yet prayer itself is very simple: it is just talking to God. The how-to is the difficult thing, at least on a sustained basis.
We Episcopalians have learned well how to pray in public worship services, but we are often at a loss when it comes to private devotions. Prayer is not "talking to the wind," nor is it a way to "manipulate God into doing something." There are many ways to pray-some ways don't even use words-but here is one way you can do it any time of the day or night.
Simply praise God for being God. Imagine yourself in God's presence and go from there. What a powerful place to be! Be still and listen to what God might be saying (Matthew 6:9, Psalm 100:4). Thank God for the things, people and situations for which you are thankful. There will be many. Enjoy remembering them (Psalm 95:2). Knowing that we are sinful and aware of things we have done wrong, ask God for forgiveness and know that He forgives you (Acts 26:8). Lift up others and their needs to the life-giving presence of God. Keep a prayer list written down and use it (1 Timothy 2:1-2). Name your own needs to God. It’s not selfish as it’s what God expects (Luke 18:28-29)!
And then conclude with the Lord's Prayer repeating at the end, "and Thy will be done."
This is a simple pattern of prayer; repeated daily becomes a real part of you and will help you grow spiritually.