Post Published on July 24, 2008.
Last Updated on April 23, 2016 by davemackey.
Talking to God? In theory it sounds great – in practice its not very easy. Why? Well, we all have our reasons. I struggle because He doesn’t speak back to me in a loud booming voice. Sometimes I say, “God, could you speak up a bit?” I’m not being sarcastic – but it is the cry of my heart. It’s hard to hear His voice sometimes. Then there is knowing what to talk about…and feeling like you are just repeating yourself over and over and over again. Sometimes I feel like I should just go out and do it – rather than sit silently and wait upon His leading – especially because I have a hard time hearing Him. Of course, all this is extremely complicated for me because of my struggles with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (which I’ve chronicled here). In any case, we struggle with talking to God – and yet in theory – it should be one of the most important practices of our lives.
If given the chance to speak with Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, George Bush, George Clooney, Liam Neeson – or any famous person – wouldn’t we jump on the opportunity? Yet God begs us to sit and talk with Him and we are too busy, too distracted, or too bored. I’m not trying to make us feel guilty – nothing of the sort – I just ponder the irony of it. We are so eager to talk to one another, but someone who is so much bigger than us garners so little of our attention.
Well, I can’t claim my prayer life is amazing – in fact it is a continuous struggle. But I have found a website that has helped me significantly in my prayer life. It’s run by Irish Jesuits and its called Sacred Space.1Yes, I am a Protestant – yes, I think there is a lot we can learn from Catholics – and a lot they can learn from us. No, I’m not for compromise, but I am for conversation which leads to a more whole and healthy understanding of ourselves and God. I think breaking off into so many denominations and fractions has been a tremendous mistake – something reflected by some of our great church leaders who attempted reform within their respective churches, not by leaving them. When we isolate ourselves into groups that only believe exactly as we do we abandon our ability to converse and grow holistically. They offer guided prayer meditations. Its not liturgical prayers, it is suggestions on topics to pray and contemplate on. They help us remember to take time to simply sit before God, to praise Him for His goodness, to see His work in our lives, to repent of our sins, to ask for our needs, to learn of His limitless love. Its all done is a soft and beautiful way and takes only ten minutes to work through (though one could spend much longer). I highly recommend it!
2 thoughts on “Sacred Space.”
This is an interesting post. I also struggled for years with prayer. I think I found my way to effective prayer through the crisis of pain which drove me to my knees. I realized my utter dependence on God and my total inability to effect the needed changes myself. I found a sign in a little shop today that said “God understands our prayers, even when they don’t have words.” I have found that sometimes prayer is holding things, people mostly, who are precious to me in my open hands and releasing the care of them to God. I have found sometimes prayer is simply surrender. I have found that the experience of prayer is often deeper than words.
I have also found it helpful to turn to those who are better “pray-ers” than I am, and to learn from them. My favorite is Stormie O’Martian, who wrote the Power of a Praying Woman, Wife, Parent, and Husband books.
I found the Power of a Praying Wife several months after the conclusion of my divorce trial, while waiting for the finalization of the divorce. I picked it up and wondered who I could give it to. Then, I felt in my heart that it was for me and that I was to pray it for my soon to be ex-husband. I have prayed those prayers daily every day for nearly a year now. And then I found the Power of a Praying Parent book and that has been my daily companion as well. So often, before finding these books, my prayers were just “bless and protect this one”, “help this child do well in school”, etc. Stormie has a way of putting scripture together so that you pray the scripture as well as just really meaningful prayers. I have found that after praying her prayers in her books for so long I have gotten much better at making up my own now.
I think a lot of prayer is practice, but like I said above, I think it is more about surrender than the words, more about Thy will, not mine. Just taking the time to pray is a kind of surrender, too.
I think the most important thing is to realize and truly believe that your prayers are effective – having the faith to believe that your prayers are really effecting change makes it so much easier to pray.
And what if, as you pray, it seems there is no answer? I shared with a friend that I had been praying for someone for years, and could see no change. She shared a story with me about how her husband took a sledge hammer to a concrete porch. Hit after hit after hit brought no effect. He couldn’t believe he could hit that cement with such force and not make a single crack. Suddenly with a single blow the whole thing crumbled. It had been cracking underneath, unknown to him. She pointed out that prayer is sometimes like that – we have no idea what effect it is having under the surface, where we can’t see.
Keep the faith, keep praying, keep pressing in, keep seeking, because you will find your way.
Some great and encouraging points. Thanks 🙂