Words of Hope: Prayer

My Dad and I loved to pray together, and I learned so much about prayer from him. I have been on a journey to understand prayer myself and find I am more in love with prayer each year. When I was younger, I had a very punitive and ecstatic relationship with prayer. If I prayed what seemed to me the “right amount” of time with the right amount of fervor, I felt I had “prayed well.” 

Prayer became a form of control that could quickly shift into performance. As I have grown older and learned more about prayer, it feels to me now entering into a chamber of connection and breath with God or living in communion with the Holy Trinity. I can see when I was younger; even though I would be praying, I could be apart from God—my heart distant from Him and self-centered, earnestly locked in my own needs wants, using prayer as a talisman or lucky charm. I tried to use my power to move God to do the things I wanted in my life—make Shann a pro basketball player, give me this parking spot, open up this opportunity for me or those I love, make someone who didn’t believe, a believer. 

Now prayer has become a lifeline connecting me to God, a space where I ask God to move me and align me with His will and purpose, for the courage and wisdom to do the work He asks of me, and for the joy and peace to follow Him regardless of the outcome. This prayer calms me, centers me, and reminds me that prayer can be wrestling with the angel for blessing, and it can be a song of praise, and it can be a quiet call for help; it can be the very breathing in and out of gratitude for this day, and it can be a plea on behalf of others. Ultimately, it reminds me that I am not moving or appeasing God but that I am being moved and changed by Him.

 “God can see what is in people’s hearts. He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because the Spirit intercedes on behalf of God’s people with groanings that are too deep for words in accordance with God’s will.” – Romans 8:27