Prayer -- Some Basics

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Our natural state is to be in relationship with God. Conversation with the Holy is what the soul is designed for, and we feel incomplete and restless unless we are engaged in it. Prayer is our native tongue.

However, prayer is not something that we do. Rather, it is what God does in us. If we open ourselves to God as God moves our hearts, we will be guided to a way of praying that is unique and right for us.

But we have to start somewhere. Usually a prayer technique that has been tried and refined over centuries is a good place to begin. Then we need to practice what we have chosen for awhile, listening for how God wants to fine-tune the interaction. Prayer is God reaching out in self-revealing love.

Here are some practical considerations for any kind of prayer.

  1. Find a place and time. A great many forms of prayer work best when we are alone and focused. Silence facilitates praying because it keeps us from being divided in our concentration. So the first step is to find a place and a time when you can be alone and when the noise of the world can be reduced. Plan for a very short period of time – say 10 minutes – to start with. You can build up to a longer practice as you go along.

  2. Be comfortable. A comfortable chair really facilitates praying. Or you might be someone who finds it more natural to talk to God while walking or biking. When beginning a prayer practice it is important to remove obstacles to your focus on God. Over time your needs in this regard might change.

  3. Come as you are. God already knows you; there are no surprises for God in who and how you are. You don't need to posture or sound eloquent. You also don't need to hide.

  4. Trust. Remember that your job is to turn toward God and open yourself in trust. God's job is all the rest.

What forms of prayer have you tried? What has worked and what has needed fine-tuning? What has made you joyful and what has discouraged you? Please comment!